God is Our Choir Director

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If you’ve ever played piano, you know that there are 88 keys on a piano, one for each note the piano can play. You know that each one of those keys is attached in some mysterious way to a felt-tipped hammer that hits a wire, or wires, that play one particular note. And you know that all those wires have to be tuned properly in order to make music properly. If one wire is out of tune, you must call a piano tuner to tune the piano so each wire sounds the proper frequency when the felt hammer strikes it. Then, when the piano is properly tuned, it will make beautiful music … as long as the pianist is capable of hitting all the keys in the necessary manner to cause that music. And if the pianist isn’t very good, well, the music isn’t very good.

But consider this. What if you had a keyboard instrument where each key did not hit a particular note, but each key had a whole range of notes it could hit. Let that sink in a bit…

Now on top of that, what if that instrument with the variable notes on each key, was such that each key had a will of its own, and it could sound whatever note it wanted to sound when it was hit.

Now that could make for some pretty strange music, don’t you think? How could the musician control the instrument in order to create the music desired? No, this could not happen on a piano, or an organ, or any other musical instrument known to humankind. Or could it?

In a choir, the director holds auditions of all the singers who are interested in singing in that choir. The director evaluates each singer’s voice and musical talent, and picks the ones who are the best singers, of course. But a good director has to take into account, as much as possible, what can be known about each singer’s attitude and personality, and their work ethic. What good would the best singer in the world be to a choir if that singer is not interested in singing for the good of the choir, but only in furthering his own fortune? On the other hand, what good would the best singer in the world be to the choir if that singer is lazy and doesn’t really care if he sings well? A wise director will of necessity take such things into account.

When the choir sings, each singer doesn’t sing a single, fixed note. Wouldn’t that make for some strange sounding music? No, each singer has a whole range of notes he is able to sing. And so, the director doesn’t hit a single note, or a chord, as a keyboard musician does. But each singer or group of singers has a whole set of notes to sing, and under the direction of the choir director, they make music. And if each singer, and the choir director, has done his job properly, the music will be good.

But as in any human endeavor in this world, things can go wrong and the music will sound bad, to put it simply. Perhaps a singer or two is simply not talented and not a very good singer. They can ruin the entire choir. Perhaps a singer is lazy and has not learned his music. Perhaps a singer fancies himself as the very best in the choir and sings out, louder than anyone else in the choir and refuses to take direction. These are human elements that can ruin a very good choir. But if everybody wants to sing well and make good music; if they work hard and do their best, then the music has a good chance of being beautiful.

There is another element that can influence the quality of the music — how good is the director? The director needs to not only choose the right singers, but the director needs to be a fine musician himself. While he is not pushing keys attached to felt hammers to make the music, he has had to work hard with the choir members themselves to not only encourage them to learn the music, but he must also have taught the choir members how to follow his directions when they are singing, and he must actually physically direct the singers through waving his arms and hands, through his facial expressions and body language. And one thing more, the director must have some sort of emotional, even spiritual, relationship with the singers.

My own experience in singing with outstanding choirs has shown me that the singers in a good choir develop a healthy respect, and even a love, for their director. Then the singers and the director are able to meld into one big musical instrument, and the music can be absolutely glorious!

Now, all of us who wear the name of Christ are familiar with the idea that we are a part of God’s choir. Yes, we are God’s people, but in Revelation we find ourselves joining with the choir of believers in heaven glorifying the Lord Jesus as He takes His throne as Lord of all the universe, to put it quite simply. It’s really much more than that, for while we will be singing, and while we do sing in this world, God is also directing our lives, much as he would direct a choir.

Now God didn’t choose perfect people for his choir. Many of us sing off key; many of us don’t know the music. Many of us are lazy and rebellious.

No, that’s not right. The fact is, all of us sing off key, don’t know the music and are lazy and rebellious. ALL of us.

God could have made us perfect people when he saved us, couldn’t he? Perhaps. But the fact is, every last one of us in this world is a sinner. We struggle all our lives with our sinful nature, even though we know Jesus has saved us and in the end we will live forever with Him in heaven.

None of us is a great singer in God’s choir, and yet … God has chosen us. And I’m not going to even suggest that maybe God is not a very good choir director, otherwise He would have chosen better singers. No, in His perfect wisdom, wisdom we can’t hope to understand, God has chosen to work with the off-key, the foolish, the lazy, the rebellious … He wants us in His choir. And He’s going to make beautiful music with us. We are going to sing a new song in heaven, a song that only the Redeemed of the earth will be able to sing. It will be beautiful, not because we are great singers, but because of who HE is. It will be born out of our love for Him, because of what He has done for us, and not from anything any of us has ever done or ever could do. For we are nothing and He is everything. We could never do anything for ourselves, but He did everything for us.

And so, He has chosen us to sing in His choir. And the Lord knows we are not worthy. But the music will be beautiful, for He is our director.

Brave New Year

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Hello world! I was taking a look at the blog a little while ago, and one of the first things I noticed was that the first post right at the top was dated Jan. 1, 2016. How can it be that I haven’t written anything here in a YEAR?

My, my. Time really flies when you’re having fun!

That previous post is still right here, and if you want to read it you’ll see it’s my first impressions of my most recent Bible purchase. I’m just amazed that I’ve had that Bible for a year now. It seemed to me that I probably bought it this past summer, but obviously my old brain is a little less than perfect.

I can see there are numerous things that I could update here on the blog, things like my Bible preferences. I considered changing my theme, but after perusing the themes that are available I decided it’s going to be pretty hard to find one I like better that this good ol’ Chateau theme.

Anyway, there have been times in the last year that I have wanted to write, but I just couldn’t make myself pull back from Facebook. In fact, I might still find myself writing a bit more on Facebook than I have in the past, since a friend of mine asked me to become an administrator of a page called the Red Dog Gulch Gazette, which is a newsletter for people who grew up in my old home town of Redwood Falls, MN. I told him I would, and he made me officially an editor of the page. But it’s too early yet to know how much I will be writing there.

But as for the Sundry Times, I have a post in the works that I hope to publish here in the next couple days. It’s not about Bible translations this time, it’s more of a theology / philosophy post. I see by my blog stats that most people who come here are looking for Bible translation posts, so I will probably continue to do that. But I need to write some stuff, stuff for me. And if you read it and enjoy it, I will be very pleased.

Happy New Year to ALL my readers!

The Modern English Version — First Thoughts

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First thoughts? My first thought when I saw the MEV on Bible Gateway was, “Hoo boy, what do we need another Bible translation for? It’s probably not even a very good one.”

Well, then I started looking at it, including it in a few translation comparisons in my personal Bible study, and it was quickly obvious that the MEV was not a “new” translation. I mean, it’s new, but it’s not really new. Let me try to explain.

Over the years, I have realized that what I have been looking for in a Bible translation, for better or for worse, is a Bible that sounds just like the Bible I used to hear read in the church of my youth. I loved the beauty and majesty of that old Bible translation. I loved the phrasing and rhythm of that old Bible. The problem was, I found that old Bible hard to understand once I got beyond just hearing the stories read. Bible study became a bit of a chore. So much of it was taken up simply by defining English terms, to say nothing of the original languages and idioms. I often became really bogged down in concepts that I couldn’t quite get a handle on, simply because the language being used was not the English of today.

So I moved on in my late-teens in seeking an easy-to-understand Bible. And over the years I found a few. I got so I was pretty good, I thought, at determining which ones were the very best, and I bought and used them for years and years. But there was a problem.

The easy-to-understand Bibles were easy to understand, but it was hard to find the beautiful phrasing and rhythm I wanted. And the less easy to understand versions were usually not a whole lot better in the area of beauty of phrasing and rhythm, and on top of that they were usually much harder to understand.

Well, to be honest, I gave up. I thought the state of Bible translation was just that — easy to understand vs. hard to understand — and I’d just have to live with that.

Then I started to take note of the Modern English Version.

If I have any complaint at this point, it’s the name. It sounds like just another new translation. It’s not going to grab anybody. I don’t think very many people will look at the myriad of translations available and say the one they want is the MEV. I think very few churches are going to switch their pew Bibles over to the MEV. I doubt that many pastors will switch their own study and sermon preparation over to the MEV.

But get past the name…try really hard to get past the name.

What I found in the MEV was just what it claims to be. It is the King James Version in modern English. That’s where the name comes from. It uses the same manuscripts as the old KJV, but there’s not a “thee” or a “thou” in sight. Yet it’s so familiar, so smooth, so right! Right from the start I had the feeling I was reading the Bible I grew up with, but without the archaic English. It seems to be a very good translation for an old geezer like me. It was like putting on a pair of good shoes that fit perfectly, and feel so good, even though you have never put them on before. And so far, I have found nothing wrong with it.

Now, I got a paper copy of this Bible for Christmas, which is the way I like to do most of my Bible reading and study. I have the large-print personal-size with a soft leather-like cover in cherry brown with rose-gold edge gilding, and Smyth-sewn binding. It’s a beautiful Bible and feels good in my hands. I did notice when I first took it out of the box that the rose-gold edging seemed to stick quite a bit and took a lot of careful separating work before it was comfortable to use.

Like I said though, these are just my first thoughts on this Bible. But I am very impressed. We’ll see how things go over the next few years. But I can tell you, if you’re looking for a Bible that gives you the KJV, but in modern English, I think you should definitely give the MEV a try.