Monthly Archives: December 2009

The History of the English Bible Part 2: The Septuagint

The Septuagint is a very important early translation of the Hebrew bible. The Pentateuch or five books of Moses were translated to Greek around 280 B.C. The Prophets and Writings were translated next and were completed by 130 B.C. The rest of the Old Testament was completed around 100 B.C. It was revised several times from 200 B.C till 200 A.D.
It is commonly referred to as LXX meaning 70 and based on supposedly having 72 translators and rounding to 70 . The reason it is so important is it shows us several things about how God views translations. (We can ascertain how God feels about it due to Jesus quoting from it.)We know the apostles used it because their NT quotes match it. This tells us several things.

  1. It is okay to have a translation in the common language of the day.
  2. It is okay for the translation to be regularly revised.
  3. Minor differences are to be expected and are okay if they do not change the meaning.

The Septuagint is different from the Hebrew text in several places. Most of these do very little to change the meaning. These differences can be assigned to many reasons such as the act of translating itself, harmonization of verses, or a problem with the manuscript. Any time you take something and put it in another language there will be differences. Some languages are more colorful, the sentence structures are different, grammatical rules are different. This can cause changes. Jesus accepting the use of the Septuagint shows that this is acceptable.

The best known manuscripts today are; Codex Vaticanus dating to the fourth century and found in the Vatican library, Codex Sinaiticus dating to the fourth century found in the St Catherine’s monastery at the base of Mt Sinai, and Codex Alexandrinus dating to the fifth century.

Just as an example of what the Greek and Hebrew would look like I’ve included Genesis 1:1 from the each.

Hebrew (read  right to left)

בראשׁית ברא אלהים את השׁמים ואת הארץ׃


Ἐν ἀρχῇ ἐποίησεν ὁ θεὸς τὸν οὐρανὸν καὶ τὴν γῆν.


The Life You’ve Always Wanted: Part 2

ortberg life wantedI’ve been studying for my church’s Sunday night class on the Life You’ve Always Wanted by John Ortberg. I remind you that this book is about training yourself to think and act more like Jesus. The Disciplines for this week are slowing down and celebrating. John points out that God wants us to be filled with joy, because “Joy is at the heart of God Himself.” John uses this qoute from G.K. Chesterton to demonstrate that joy we see in the happiest child is just a fraction of the Joy in the heart of God.

“Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, “Do it again”; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.”

He goes on to give a suggestion of what might have looked like if one of us wrote it.  An example being, “He considered making the stars to beautify the night, and planets to fill the skies , but thought it sounded like too much work.” We know that that is not how reads though God said and It was good.  Paul states how we should always be joyful in the Lord in . In Nehemiah chapter 8 he tells them to celebrate and in verse 10 that the joy of the Lord is their strength.

So how do we go about training ourselves to be joyful. we stay around people who make us joyful, we set aside time to do the things that make us happy and thn thank God for them.

The second discipline is slowing down. John tells of the advice given to him about how to be spiritually healthy. “You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from you life.” He discuss how the clutter in our lives, the multitasking , and superficiality cause us to have an inability to love.

some of the ways to train for this are to stay behind the car in front of you in traffic, no matter what speed they are going, chew your food for longer, and set aside time for solitude. Being constantly busy is my biggest downfall and I never realized how much it affected who I was until I tried the exercises listed above. I would come home from work later but in a much better mood. I was less grumpy and wanted to spend more time wit my family. I believe the chapter on slowing down was the most helpful to me of any of them.


History of the English Bible Part 1

Bible StudyI’m going to be teaching on the history of the English bible and its translation next month. I thought to help me get my ideas in a coherent and understandable way I would write them down and share them here. I feel very strongly about the issue of bible translation because I have seen someone try and split a church over it and I’ve seen people walk away from the church over it. I read from several translations. I pick one and read it cover to cover then I get another and do the same with it. In the last few years I’ve read the KJV, TNIV, NIV, HCSB, NKJV cover to cover plus the New Testament in the ESV. In January I plan on starting the NASB with a NRSV waiting after that. During the week I read an hour a day from whatever translation I am reading through. Later in the day I normally pick up what ever translation I have stashed in the place I am near. I also want to state I like the KJV, the Lord’s Prayer in anything else just doesn’t have the ring in my ears as the KJV, but I do not feel that it is the best version for the typical reader of the bible today. So it is important to understand why it sometimes is not the same as a modern translation. This is a very simple overview as the majority of the people I will be teaching will want nothing but basics, so that is what I intend to give here.

The OT was originally written in Hebrew with parts such as Ezra 4:7-6:18;7:12-26, Daniel 2:4-7:28 and Jeremiah 10:11 written in Aramaic. The NT was written in Greek other than the Aramaic words in Mark 5:41 and Mark 7:34. Most of the manuscripts we have today are written on Papyrus or Parchment. There are about 3,000 Hebrew OT manuscripts in part or whole and 5,400 NT manuscripts in part or whole. There are 1,500 Septuagint manuscripts, 8,000 Latin Vulgate manuscripts, and over a thousand ancient manuscripts in other languages
Most of the manuscripts we have today are either papyrus or parchment. Papyrus is a plant that grows in the marshes. The thin leaves are woven together in a crosshatch Papyrus_plantpattern and allowed to dry. The sugars that occur in the drying process act as glue and allow the leaves to form a solid sheet. Parchment is made from animal skins. Both of these materials were rolled into scrolls and that was the early form of books. Being rolled into a scroll limited the size that a book could be, for example the Isaiah scroll found at Qumran is pushing the limit at 23 feet. It was eventually discovered that papyrus could be folded in half and a book could be made these were called codex or codices for plural.

The next thing we must realize is that this happened before the printing press so if you had a copy of the bible, it had been hand copied from another hand copy. This coping was often done in a scriptorium. This KircheScriptoriumwas a room where professional scribes would hand copy books of the bible. Sometimes one person would stand and read the text while the other scribes would be writing what would be said. Imagine scriptoriumsitting in a room for hours on end writing every word that was said. That is how we got the manuscripts that we have. Next Time I will discuss the Septuagint.


A Different Kind of Christmas Poem

As Christmas approaches I spend time thinking about the fact that this is the day we use to celebrate the birth of our saviour Jesus Christ. The significance of that never stops overwhelming me. That being that the very God that we rebelled against chose to save us by sending His Son to die for our sins. I also start making plans to spend time with family. As we all sit down to eat and say a prayer of thanks, I can truly see how blessed I am to have a God that loved me so much that He put my punishment on His own Son, and then chose to show me His love by giving me all the blessings in my life that he does.

I received this email yesterday and it just reminded me that while I will be sitting in a warm house with loved ones, many will be sitting in a cold desert far from their families. They are there because they chose to protect our country. To put their lives on the line for me, and be away from their families on this day because of thier love for a country where we are still allowed to worship God freely. It doesn’t matter how you feel about war, our leaders, or this country if you are an american you should respect these men for the sacrifices they make.

So say a prayer for them. Pray that they are safe. Pray that their families are safe and taken care of. Pray that they know Jesus and are willing to introduce Him to their fellow soldiers who do not. If they do not know Jesus, Pray that He will reveal Himself them. Lastly thank God for these men and the sacrifices they are making. It’s men who who made these same sacrifices that allow us to worship God freely.

To all the men and women who serve thank you and may God bless you.


The embers glowed softly, and in their dim light,
I gazed round the room and I cherished the sight.
My wife was asleep, her head on my chest,
My son beside me, angelic in rest.
Outside the snow fell, a blanket of white,
Transforming the yard to a winter delight.

The sparkling lights in the tree I believe,
Completed the magic that was Christmas Eve.
My eyelids were heavy, my breathing was deep,
Secure and surrounded by love I would sleep.
In perfect contentment, or so it would seem,
So I slumbered, perhaps I started to dream.

The sound wasn’t loud, and it wasn’t too near,
But I opened my eyes when it tickled my ear.
Perhaps just a cough, I didn’t quite know, Then the
Sure sound of footsteps outside in the snow.
My soul gave a tremble, I struggled to hear,
And I crept to the door just to see who was near.

Standing out in the cold and the dark of the night,
A lone figure stood, his face weary and tight.
A soldier, I puzzled, some twenty years old,
Perhaps a Marine, huddled here in the cold.
Alone in the dark, he looked up and smiled,
Standing watch over me, and my wife and my child.

“What are you doing?” I asked without fear,
“Come in this moment, it’s freezing out here!
Put down your pack, brush the snow from your sleeve,
You should be at home on a cold Christmas Eve!”
For barely a moment I saw his eyes shift,
Away from the cold and the snow blown in drifts.

To the window that danced with a warm fire’s light
Then he sighed and he said “Its really all right,
I’m out here by choice. I’m here every night.”
“It’s my duty to stand at the front of the line,
That separates you from the darkest of times.

No one had to ask or beg or implore me,
I’m proud to stand here like my fathers before me.
My Gramps died at ‘Pearl on a day in December,”
Then he sighed, “That’s a Christmas ‘Gram always remembers.”
My dad stood his watch in the jungles of ‘Nam’,
And now it is my turn and so, here I am.

I’ve not seen my own son in more than a while,
But my wife sends me pictures, he’s sure got her smile.
Then he bent and he carefully pulled from his bag,
The red, white, and blue… An American flag.
I can live through the cold and the being alone,
Away from my family, my house and my home.

I can stand at my post through the rain and the sleet,
I can sleep in a foxhole with little to eat.
I can carry the weight of killing another,
Or lay down my life with my sister and brother…
Who stand at the front against any and all,
To ensure for all time that this flag will not fall..”

”  So go back inside,” he said, “harbor no fright,
Your family is waiting and I’ll be all right.”
“But isn’t there something I can do, at the least,
“Give you money,” I asked, “or prepare you a feast?
It seems all too little for all that you’ve done,
For being away from your wife and your son.”

Then his eye welled a tear that held no regret,
“Just tell us you love us, and never forget.
To fight for our rights back at home while we’re gone,
To stand your own watch, no matter how long.
For when we come home, either standing or dead,
To know you remember we fought and we bled.
Is payment enough, and with that we will trust,
That we mattered to you as you mattered to us..”

PLEASE, would you do me the kind favor of sending this to as many
People as you can? Christmas will be coming soon and some credit is due to our
U.S service men and women for our being able to celebrate these
Festivities. Let’s try in this small way to pay a tiny bit of what we owe. Make people stop and think of our heroes, living and dead, who sacrificed themselves for us.

LCDR Jeff Giles, SC, USN
30th Naval Construction Regiment
OIC, Logistics Cell One
Al Taqqadum, Iraq


The Life You’ve Always Wanted

0310246954In our Sunday night class we just started John Ortberg’s The Life You’ve Always Wanted small group curriculum. Since I have already read the book and will be doing most of the teaching I wanted to share it here. I admit the title scared me. I was picturing a Joel Osteen prosperity gospel, but that is not what you get in this book. John Ortberg is referring to a life where we honor Christ in everything we do. A life where we become more Christ like everyday, he puts it this way it’s “doing the right thing, at the right time, for the right reason.”

He says that there is a big difference in “trying and training” and that we should approach spiritual discipline as if we were training for a marathon. We should start with small exercises that prepare and get our spiritual muscles ready. I’ll add a summary of each lesson, each week as we go through this curriculum.

I’ll leave you with the story of Mabel from this week’s lesson. Mabel was an elderly lady John met during a nursing home visit. She had been in the home for 25 years. She was blind, almost deaf, and cancer had disfigured her face. John said he walked up and gave her a flower. She thanked him and asked if he minded if she gave it to someone else. When he rolled her will chair next to someone else she handed them the flower and said, “This is from Jesus.” As he got to know her, one day he was curious what does a person who is blind, deaf, disabled and alone think about all day, so he asked her. She told him, she thought about Jesus. So he asked her what exactly does she think about Jesus. She told him, “I think about how good he has been to me!”
When we look at our problems and compare them with Mabel’s and how her attitude is one of hope, praise and worship, we can see just how far away from the life we’ve always wanted we are.


Amy & Freewill

free_willIsaac was forty years old when Abraham sent his servant out to find a wife for Isaac. The servant went to Mesopotamia and asked God to send a wife for Isaac. Rebekah showed up just as he finished his prayer. She agreed to go and become Isaac’s wife. In Genesis 24:63-67 we read of Isaac meeting his wife for the first time. The thing I want us to notice is that Isaac and Rebekah had never met, they were just Godly people that chose to love each other.

In today’s society we can’t imagine marrying someone we have never met. The idea of meeting a random stranger and choosing to love them seems foreign to us. We seem to have developed a mindset that love is a feeling or force that comes over us and we have no power over it. The TV shows and movies today encourage this view, but is that how love really happens?

I still remember the first time I met my wife. I was a bus boy in a restaurant and she came in to eat with a friend of hers. I remember looking over at her and as she talked, she smiled. It was at that moment I chose to love her. I must say that she did not choose to love me at that moment though, so I pursued her and became her friend. I became someone she could talk to and someone she enjoyed to be around. Then she chose to love me. Before she could love me though I had to reveal myself to her and draw her to me. Once she realized the overwhelming love I showed for her, then she was able to choose to love me. What I’m trying to point out here is that I had to seek her out. I had to make myself irresistible to her so that she would choose to love me. I made myself irresistible to her so that she would love me, but I did not make her love me in the sense of putting some power over her so that she had some robotic love for me.

This is how it is with us and Jesus. Jesus seeks us out. He reveals Himself to us (Matthew 16:17) and then draws us to him (John 6:44). Then we choose to love Him. This does not take away the sovereignty of God anymore than my wife choosing to love me takes away any of the effort I put into pursuing her. Had I not went up and said hi to her at that restaurant she would have walked out of my life forever. If I wouldn’t have asked a mutual friend to invite her around so that she could get to know me better, she wouldn’t be my wife today. I was the exact opposite of any thing my wife would have thought she would marry. If it was not for a mutual friend she probably would have never even said hi. Amy could have said I don’t like his long hair. I don’t like the clothes he wears. Maybe she liked my personality, but It wasn’t the appearance she wanted people to see her with.

We do not seek God out (Romans 3:11). Our sinful nature flees from God. When God seeks us out he will reveal who He is. He will become irresistible to us and draw us to Him. Then we decide do I want to give my life to this Man (2 Thessalonians 2:10). Do I want people to perceive me as being someone that would be attracted to this Jesus. Look at the story in Matthew 19:16-22. It tells of a rich young man who Jesus revealed Himself to. This young man was drawn to Jesus, but he did not want to give the appearance of someone that loved Jesus and therefore chose to turn away. This man knew who Jesus was. The father had revealed this to him. He did know that this was the way to heaven, yet he chose to turn away.

Someone may say that I stated, I chose to love my wife, and I pursued her, and that proves that God chooses to save some but not all. No, that proves that sinful man is attracted to sinful woman based on appearance, personality, or some other worldly characteristics. A Holy God does not choose people on worldly characteristics. Freewill does not lessen God’s sovereignty or the biblical truth that salvation belongs to God, it only serves to show us the grace that God extended to us.


The Storms of Life

man cryingIn Mark 4:35-41 we have the narrative of Jesus calming the storm. Jesus and his disciples are crossing the Sea of Galilee. It’s evening and the wind starts to pick up. The disciples are in the middle of this lake, It’s dark and the wind is howling. Everytime the boat comes down from one wave another wave crashes over and fills it with water. The boat is slowly sinking.Several of these men are professional fishermen. They have grown up on the water, so for them to be scared means there is truly a reason they need to be. They know the boat is going to sink and they will drown.

Let’s stop and put ourselves in their shoes. It’s dark, you are in the middle of a large body of water and you know you are about to die and then you look at the back of the boat and there lies your leader, the guy in charge and he is sleeping like a baby. Just like the captain in Jonah 1:6 you are thinking, “What are you doing, get up and pray!”

Jesus stands and says, “Peace, be still!” (KJV) Everything stops! The waves immediately settle down, the wind quietens and quits blowing. Jesus looks at you and asks, “Why are you afraid, do you still have not have faith?”

And today we stand in the same boat with that same question lingering in the air, “Why are you afraid, do you still not have faith?” Jesus promises to take care of us through all the storms in our lives.(Matthew 11:28) he tells us not to worry, that God takes care of all the birds of the air and are we not more important to Him than the birds.(Matthew 6:25-34) Sometimes it may seem like Jesus is sleeping and not there at all. But He is and He is just waiting on us to show faith and call on Him. So when your world seems to be spiraling out of control, the storms of life are making you feel as if you are sinking, just remember that Jesus does care and listen for Him to say “Peace, be still.”


Mary’s Song


Luke 1:46-55

As we read through Luke we see that Gabriel came and told Mary that God had chosen her to be the one that would birth the child promised by Isaiah.(Isaiah 7:14). When Mary heard this news she was excited and told Gabriel, “Yes let this happen as you have said.”  Then she burst into song.

Now picture Mary a young virgin betrothed to a man, when all of a sudden she is called by God to serve Him in an extraordinary way. She is actually going to carry the Son of God in her womb. While she could have questioned her future and argued with God like Moses did at the burning bush(Exodus 4:13), she didn’t. Think about this for a minute, an unwed teenager pregnant, but not by the one she is engaged to in a time when you would be stoned for such.

Mary never doubted God she said I’ll do this! Then she burst into song. Never mind the persecution she was about to face, she was singing out of joy. Oh that we could all worship God in that way. Mary says my soul glorifies and my spirit rejoices in God. This is deep felt worship. She feels she is about to burst at her seems in her love for God.

He has looked down at this poor girl and set her to be something special something that generations from now will look at her and say, “Wow what was it like to raise the Son of God? What was it like to know that out of all the women in the history of the world God chose you for this special task?” Then she says “Yes I realize what great things you have done for me God, and you are holy, merciful, and powerful. You always look at for those who love you.”

Mary was so thankful that God had become her savior and was blessing her that she couldn’t control her excitement. God has blessed us in that same way. He has sent his spirit to live in us. This should make us feel like bursting at the seams it should make us feel like we are going to explode if we don’t let the world know how excited we are. So this Christmas season think about Mary’s song and how God has looked down at you His humble servant and done great things for you in His holy name and that name is Jesus. The reason for the season.



Grace and the Lessons Taught

It has been another hectic month, but God never ceases to amaze me with the way He prepares blocksGrace3us for the things He plans on showing us. My wife found a knot on her throat several months back. The doctors never seemed very concerned about it, so we weren’t overly concerned. Last month she mentioned it to the doctor again and the doctor had a biopsy done. A few days later we get the call that it is 85% suspicious. After trying to discover exactly what that means she went back to the doctor to see what was the next step.

After my Amy and I had finished discussing this one morning I decided to prepare for the small group lesson I had to do Sunday night. This is were it gets weird. the lessons are taught by the deacons and we rotate out who teaches on which Sunday. As I opened it up to the lesson I was supposed to teach about I noticed it was about grace and then I see the verse for the lesson was my life verse 2 Corinthians 12:9. I told Amy stating that she wasn’t going to believe this.

So I start the video and the illustration the guy used was about discovering his wife had cancer and how when she was told she responded by saying “God finally thinks we are ready to handle this.” My wife came in the room looked at me and said “that’s weird!” God was preparing us for the lessons he wanted to show us.

We go back to the doctor feeling a lot better about the whole situation. The surgeon told us that he did not believe it was cancerous so he was going to remove the half of her thyroid it was connected too and leave the other part so Amy would not have to take medicine for the rest of her life. Well during surgery the doctors felt it was cancerous and removed the whole thyroid.

After the final lab results came back, they told us, yes it is thyroid cancer and if you have to get cancer this is the one to get because it is easy treatable and has a 95% cure rate.  So now Amy will go and take a radioactive iodine tablet and be in isolation for a few days. Hopefully I will get my Amy back as a Christmas present.

Throughout this God has been there showing us that He was there that he cared about us and that everything was in His hands and would be okay. The video that comforted us when we first heard. A friend told us to talk to a church member who had been through the exact same thing (almost identical to Amy’s case) ten years back. We did not get a chance to talk to her and we were heading to the doctor one day and as we were driving Amy said That she wished she had been able to talk to this lady. we stopped at a store on the way to the doctor and as we walked in we see the lady in there shopping.

The lessons:  God has helped me remember just how much I love my wife and as we are approaching our 15th anniversary in a few days I truly thank God for the wife he has blessed me with. God has showed us just how much our church thinks of us and I thank Him for placing us there. God has showed us how to look at our problems as just small lessons to prepare us for what He has in store for us. God has showed us the power of prayer and how when a community of believers throw their prayers at you, you will feel it.

I thank God for the grace he has shown Amy and I. For the salvation through His Son he has given us. And while I hate watching my wife suffer I do thank Him for the things He is teaching us through this small hurdle that we have to make it over.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”