Podcast Episode – I’m Calling An Audible

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Image result for calling an audible imagesIt’s cold outside. I just thought you should know that. I’m aware that many of my U.S. Friends are already experiencing snow. It’s rather early for that. Brr… It’s not that bad here in Buckie. Sure the temps are in the 30s, and there’s been a lot of frost early in the mornings, but we’ve not had any real snow. We had some sleet and snow early this week, but it was much worse in the mountains. They are snow capped. Again, I know many of you had a very long hot summer, now winter has come early. That’s wild. It’s no wonder that so many people like to talk about Climate Change rather than Global Warming. But I digress. You are listening to the ReDiscovering the Bible online radio show. My name is Sam Burton, and I’m your host.

Whether you’re a brand new visitor, or a long time listener, I am so glad you stopped by. Thank you so much. Please tell a friend, or 10 about the show. You are awesome.

Listen, I’m calling an audible today. I’m changing up just a bit. And I’m doing it for a couple of reasons. Those of you who are regular listeners know a couple things about ReDiscovering the Bible. You know that we’ve been going through the Bible, looking at the Books, discovering who wrote them, to whom and why. We are taking a very general overview. I’m trying to help you read the Bible for yourself, rather than explaining all of it. And I’m supposed to get with you every week. I’ve failed repeatedly at that. Mostly it’s the time of year. Some call it Christmas, or “the Holidays”. But I also bit off a rather big mouthful by starting back to school to earn my Doctorate degree. What a silly time of year to do that. Some things have taken a hit. This show is one of them. For that I do apologize, but I’m also letting you know that until I get this finished, you should look for every other week rather than every week. I don’t want to stop this program until I get finished with my doctorate, That would be counter productive. But I do want to be honest. So, for the time being, I’ll probably produce something every other week.

Now, the second audible is, we were going to look at three books of the Old Testament today, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. But something happened yesterday that has really affected me, and I want to share my thoughts about it with you.

Yesterday morning, I got a text from a good friend of ours in Maine. She told me that a mutual friend of ours, a chap I used to work with, had died. I was devastated. William was one of the best managers I’ve ever known. He genuinely cared about his team. Every spring, at the end of April, we had to let about 50 people go. It was a seasonal business. We ramped up every year from late autumn till mid april, then we had to let a bunch go. It was just the nature of things. William studied his daily reports and tried to find a way to keep as many people employed as possible. He hated to let anyone go. He wouldn’t sleep for a week. His team meant that much to him.

And they knew it. There are all kinds of people discussing him, his life, and his funeral arrangements online. Everyone is in shock. Totally stunned.

I haven’t seen him in ten years. The company was sold. I was kept on and transferred to GA. William, for family reasons, came to GA for 6 months, but went back to Maine in the spring of 2009. He came to my office, we shared some coffee and memories, and he left. That’s it. I never saw him again.

I’m sad about that. I’ve been way too guilty of kind of forgetting about people from my past, including people who meant a great deal to me.

I had a friend, Robert, from Indiana, who followed me as youth minister in KY, when I first came to Scotland, back in 1980. Robert came in 82 and lived with me for 6 months, then returned to the states to raise money to come back full time as minister here. He lived with me another 6 months, then found a place to live. We had many adventures together over the years. We went to Germany to a conference I was preaching in. That was tons of fun. He was one of two friends who was with me on my first preaching trip to Northern Ireland. He was in the car when I got arrested for being somewhere I shouldn’t be, and taking photos of the British army. It’s a long story, I’ll save it for some other time.

When I was returning to the States in 93, Robert came to my home to tell me he was going back to the States as well. He returned to Indiana. I went to Florida. I never saw him again. Robert died in 2015.

William and Robert are just two examples of a personality flaw I have. I’m really terrible at staying in touch with the people that matter. Sure, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter help, but there are so many people I have neglected over the years. Even the Churches here in Buckie, The one I planted in Forres, and in Cumbernauld, I simply ignored. So many people I cared about have long since passed on, and I was blissfully unaware.

I have friends from High School, and college, who mattered a great deal to me, that I couldn’t tell you what’s happened to them. Except when I get a notice that they have passed away. I look back on the people I worked with in Florida, who I served as minister to in Iowa, Argentina, Kentucky, and Maine.

I’ve got a friend, right here in Scotland, that I’ve only seen once in 2.5 years. He lives about 40 minutes away from me. He was the first Christian in the Forres Church. We used to have our Bible Studies in his house. I talk to his wife via Facebook, but I’ve really neglected Mike. I’m a real slob of a friend, sometimes.

I really want to do better. I want to be better. Some of the people from my past have died without knowing Jesus as their savior. I certainly know I spoke with each of them about Jesus, but I truly hurt, when I think about people who enter eternity alone.

Please, if you have been neglectful, like I have been, I encourage you to make a fresh start. Again, the internet is a great tool for using to reaquaint ourselves with people from our past.

And, on a related note, none of us knows if we will even have a tomorrow. Make the most of today. If you need to talk to someone, do it. If you need to visit some place, go there. Regrets are terrible monsters. Read that book you’ve always wondered about. See that film, or play. Go to that concert. Try on that dress. Taste that food. You have today. Make the most of it.

I also want you to consider Jesus. Do not permit your life to end, without investigating His claims. He really died for you. But more than that. He rose again, three days later. Jesus is the Man who is God. He is the God who became Man. He loves you. He wants to have a relationship with you. He wants to give you the chance to start over. He wants to forgive you. He wants to give you eternal life. Guaranteed.

Just this morning I was reading something really neat in the Gospel of Matthew. This is in Chapter 20, if you want to read it for yourself, and I hope you will. But Jesus is telling a story to the people. He talks about a wealthy land owner who hires a bunch of people to work for him in the fields. He goes back at 9 in the morning, and hires some more. Then he is out and about near the end of the day, and sees a bunch of people milling about, and offers them a job too. At the end of the day, he pays the last hired the same amount as the people who had worked all day.

That is the best news. All of us get the same heaven. Some of us, like me, have been in the Kingdom all day long. I was 9 years old when I first followed Jesus. I don’t regret it at all. But many people don’t follow him until late in the day. I saw an article online about a woman, 100 years old, who decided to follow Jesus. I saw a photo of her being baptized. That was awesome to me. And, if you’ve read the Gospels, you’ve read about one of the thieves who were crucified with Jesus who said to Jesus, “Please remember me when you come into your Kingdom.” And Jesus said, “TODAY. You will be with me in paradise.”

It’s never too late. As long as you’ve got your wits about you, and breath in your body, you can receive Him as your Lord, and He will accept you. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done. How much, or How little. Just don’t keep saying tomorrow. Because you don’t know if your tomorrow will come.

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Podcast – Genesis Part 2 – Pictures of Jesus

 

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October is a very interesting month for English Speaking Christians. It was in October, the 6th to be precise, that an English Christian was executed for his faith back in 1536. His name was William Tyndale. Tyndale was executed for the crime of translating the Bible into English. Yikes. For that crime he was strangled to death, then his body was burned at the stake.

Within just a few years of his death, the King of England ordered that an English Bible be placed in every church in the country. And in less that a hundred years, King James the 1 of England, and the 6th of Scotland, authorized a brand new translation, that was in the common ordinary language of the people of the 17th century. We call it, the King James version. The British call it, the Authorized version. And the King James Bible changed the entire British Empire. Even in the 21st century, it is still the most widely recognized translation of the Bible. It still sells millions of copies a year.

Plus, especially in the 20th and 21st centuries we’ve had a flood of new translations, each one trying to make the Bible understandable to modern ears.

I also read last week that Christians in China are memorizing the entire Bible. All of it. The Chinese govt. is burning Bibles again, so people are committing it to memory, because the Govt. can’t ban it from your memory.

Most of us have Bibles somewhere in our homes, probably gathering dust. Yet, William Tyndale gave his life so you could have one. And the chinese are memorizing huge portions of it. What’s the deal? What are we missing. Perhaps it’s time for us to rediscover the Bible. And that’s why I’m here. To help give you some information to make the Bible more interesting, and to help you make the most of it when you read it for yourself.

If you look through the episodes, you’ll find something one every book of the New Testament. We started looking at the old testament last week. I’ll put some links in the show notes so you can easily find past episodes. If you’re listening on a stitcher app. You can just search Rediscovering the Bible on it and find every episode. But like I said, I’ll put something in the show notes on samburtonpresents.com. So you can find them.

Last week we looked at the first 11 chapters of Genesis. Those are some of the most criticized chapters in the Bible, because they talk about how the world was created, about the Flood of Noah, and some other kind of far out stories. While I believe those are just highlights, I do believe they are historically accurate, Because Jesus talks about Creation, and Noah and the Flood. He puts his stamp of approval on the book of Genesis. That’s why I want you to read the NT before you start on the Old. It just makes sense.

But the story changes starting with Chapter 12 of Genesis. This is where we see the genesis, or beginning of the nation of Israel, the Jews. It begins with Abraham. Abraham lives in Ur of the Chaldees. Ur was a real place. It is in southern Iraq. Obviously, it’s just a ruin today, but when God calls Abraham, that’s where he lived.

I think it’s important to note here, that the Bible indicates there are many people who worshipped Him long before there were Jews or Christians. Noah, of course. Here we meet Abraham. Later we’ll meet Melchizedek. In Exodus, we’ll run into Moses’ Father in Law, who is a priest of God. It’s not like there were not faithful followers before the Jews. The jews were chosen because God made a covenant with Abraham, promising to bless the whole world by providing a savior through his bloodline.

Abraham is a genuine hero. His story is full of action and intrigue. He is not perfect. But he loves and serves God. And God promises to bless him.

The rest of the book is all about his family. Its about his relationships with women, with God, with his kids. And it’s about his son, grandson and great grandchildren. God promises to give him the land we now call the Holy Land. His descendants are going to inherit this land. But not just yet.

When you read the book, you’ll enjoy many of the adventures and misadventures of Abraham, Lot, Isaac, Jacob, and his sons. their stories are only part of the story. The whole bible is about Jesus. And I want you to take special notice of pictures of Jesus in the Book of Genesis.

First, Isaac is a picture of Jesus. He is the chosen one. The promised one. And when he is just a young man, God asks Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. Abraham is about 125 give or take when God asks him to sacrifice Isaac. Isaac is in his mid 20s. Frankly, I think he could have taken out his dad, but he is willing to be an offering of that’s what God required. Wow. That is definitely Jesus. Just like Jesus will carry his own cross, Isaac even carries the wood for the fire where he is going to be burned.

But there is another picture of Jesus in that story. It’s in chapter 22 btw. At the very last moment, God spares Isaac, and provides a Ram as Isaac’s replacement. Jesus is the ram for us. We should face judgement for sin, but Jesus took it for us. And one of the things that a lot of people don’t know, is Jesus was crucified on the very same hill as this event with Abraham and Isaac. This is where David built his city. It is where Jerusalem is today. It is where the temple stood. That’s amazing. Think about that. What are the odds? Unless of course, God had something to do with it.

But there is one more picture of Jesus in Genesis. That is Joseph. Joseph, we know him mostly for his amazing technicolor dream coat. But he is a picture of Jesus. First of all, while we see sin in the life of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. And in his other sons. The bible is silent about Joseph’s sin. He even resists temptation when he is faced with it. He is sold for a pittance to passers by, just as Jesus is sold by Judas. He disappears. His father is sold a story of his spilled blood. He is dead as far as his family is concerned. But God raises him up in Egypt. And he is able to save his entire family from a terrible famine sweeping the world around them.

It’s a remarkable story of sin and salvation. The book of Genesis is really quite unforgettable. And it’s not made up. I know you’ll enjoy it. You’ll have questions. Keep the Gospels in mind before you read it. I’d really like to hear any that you have. Write me with them. I’ll talk to you soon. Have an awesome week. I know I plan to. For now, That’s all I got, so…I’m out.

 

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Is Easter Critical to Christianity?

Related imageI should be outside, enjoying this beautiful Easter Monday. Instead, here I am, typing away. Sometimes, I question my priorities. On the other hand, I simply had to write and process some things I read this morning.

In yesterday’s New York Times, an opinion writer, Nicholas Kristof, had a rather interesting, and disturbing interview published. His interviewee was, Dr. Serene Jones, President of Union Theological Seminary, in New York.

First, I think I’ll Link the article. You’ll Find it HERE. That way, no one can accuse me of taking anything out of context.

I have nothing against Dr. Jones. She seems like a decent person. I have no intentions of slandering her or the school. It’s merely the thesis of her interview that bothers me to my core. The short version is, she does not believe in the literal resurrection of Jesus from the dead, in his virgin birth, the necessity of the cross, or even in the efficacy of prayer. And she still calls herself a Christian Minister.

She has every right to believe, or disbelieve, anything she likes. The U.S. Constitution grants her that. I will fight for her right to believe, stand for, and even proclaim her beliefs publicly. My problem is this: you cannot deny the fundamental core of Christianity, and still call your theology, Christian. That is simply not fair to either Christians, or non Christians.

Even a cursory glance at the New Testament, will demonstrate that the Resurrection from the dead of Jesus of Nazareth, was the central doctrine of the early Church. It is the cornerstone of all four Gospels, including Mark, which she says doesn’t have it. In all 4 of them, and in the Book of Acts, the resurrection of Jesus is central to the very being of Christianity. In Acts, for example, the Resurrection is the core teaching of every gospel sermon recorded. In I Corinthians 15, Paul says it is of “first importance”, and that if Jesus is not raised “we are of all men, most miserable.”

It is Jesus resurrection that gives meaning to the Cross. Without it, its merely the story of a murder, or a public execution. It gives validity to the Christmas story of the virgin birth. Otherwise, it’s just a tragic tale of a pregnant woman giving birth in a stable.

The Resurrection, gives meaning to all of Jesus teaching. It validates every thing he said. In short, there simply is no Christianity, if Jesus did not rise from the dead.

You don’t have to believe it. Although I encourage you to do your homework and read about it. I would encourage you to read the Gospel of John, to begin, then investigate the claims.

You you can’t call yourself a Christian, yet deny every central claim of it’s belief system. I’m sorry. Neither Christianity nor logic will allow it. I stand by my initial arguments; Dr. Jones is entitled to every jot and tittle of her beliefs. But she cannot call it Christianity.

I was hoping I’d feel better, getting that off my chest, but I don’t. I feel absolutely rotten because of the many people who will read the article in the NYT and come away confused. Please, read the New Testament for yourself. You may not believe it, though I hope you do. But you’ll see with absolute clarity that Dr. Jones does not align with Christianity as taught in it’s pages.

That was a dare. Let me say it more clearly. Read it. I dare you. At least read the Gospel of John, and the Book of Acts.

Good Bye NIV, Hello ESV

Image result for ESV images public domain

Today’s topic is rather personal, and spiritual. I know some of you are not even remotely interested in Spiritual things, so I’m warning you ahead time. I hope you’ll keep reading, because you might get something out of it. Besides, it’s just us, so of no one will know you’re reading someone discussing the Bible.

The year was 1972. I was a teenager. I was skinny and had a full head of hair. My how things change with time. I already loved the Bible. And I loved Jesus. I had submitted to Him a few years before and loved reading His Word.

In those days, that was the King James Version. That’s pretty much what everybody read. I did have a Good News For Modern Man (Today known as the Good News Version, or Today’s English Version). but I read about a brand new translation that was hitting the market called, The New International Version. I raced out to a Christian Book Store and bought one. It was only the New Testament, that’s all that was completed at that time. It was brown leather. Just like a Bible should be. Kidding. Mine was a large print edition. In those days that was an option I didn’t need. Now it’s a requirement.

This new Bible was like magic. I understood it. Every word. It was like it was written just for me. I absolutely fell in love with it. In 1974, I went to college at Ozark Christian College in Joplin, MO. In the bookstore, my first day, I saw and purchased, a whole Bible in the New International version. I was in heaven.

Throughout my college years, I was introduced to many translations. I liked some. Disliked others. Some I have to this day. A few I have as an app, but no actual hard copies. But I always loved the NIV.

Then in 1979, I went to Cincinnati Christian University, called Cincinnati Bible College in those days. One of the professors there, Lewis Foster, had been on the team of translators for the NIV, especially the Gospel of John, and played a role in the Book of Joshua team as well, but I don’t remember what he told me his role was. I will just say, Dr. Foster was an awesome man who loved the Word and the God who inspired it. I truly enjoyed his classes and spending time with him. I treasure those memories.

I was ordained into the ministry in 1978 in Cynthiana, KY in a Church where the minister was King James only. He was adamant about it. He disliked me very much for the fact that I was sold on the NIV and even used it when I was preaching and teaching. He only agreed to participate in my ordination because my dad was an Elder in the Church. I remember some dandy conversations with the Pastor as we would go about our days.

I also remember NOT getting hired by a church in KY once because I used the NIV rather than the King James. Those were weird times in churches. In fact, I would carry a King James AND an NIV with me when I was traveling and raising support to be a missionary, so I wouldn’t offend people if their church was still sold on the KJV.

When I got to Buckie, Scotland in 1980, I boldly preached from the New International version. Most of the people stuck to their King James, but converts used the NIV. Eventually, it became the majority version in the Church in Buckie, as well at in Forres which I planted in 1986, and in Cumbernauld, born in 1988.

I stayed true to the NIV, even when The New Living Bible became so popular in the late 90s. My wife loves that translation. She uses it all the time. There is absolutely nothing wrong with it. It’s just not me.

I received a beta version of Today’s New International Version of the New Testament to read and comment on sometime in 2000 or 2001. It was published in 2002. I read it and HATED it. It was, lets say an attempt at political correctness. It was just awful. And I said so.

The Old Testament was finished in 2005. The translation was totally unacceptable to serious believers in Jesus and His Word. Eventually it just faded away and ceased being published.

Then in about 2012 a new edition of the NIV came out. I had bought a new Bible and was teaching a class at Northwest Christian Church in Acworth, GA. As I was reading, I became aware that some of the translation was just terrible. I laid my bible down and told the class that this version was crap. The NIV had implemented some of the translation model that had been used in the TNIV and the NIV was ruined.

The next week, I went back to my 1984 edition of the NIV. It was the last sound version of the NIV. It is now only possible to buy it from used bookstores or backrooms at Christian bookstores. Despite all the furor, I stuck faithfully to the 1984 edition of the NIV. And I will continue to use it in personal study.

But today, I am announcing, primarily because the 1984 NIV is so rare, that I will begin this week, preaching from the English Standard Version. It is considered a literal translation, yet it reads pretty smoothly for one. It is used by many conservative Churches in English speaking countries. In fact, it is the translation used at Brittan’s and my home Church in GA, Crosspoint City Church.

Frankly, this was an extremely difficult decision to make. I wish the publishers of the New International Version had never forced me into it. But they did, and that’s that. It’s done. Here I stand.

If you want to understand more about translations of the Bible, I recommend my book, (Re)Discovering the Bible Vol. 1. Its a short book. And inexpensive, too. Just click on the link. You’re welcome.

So, farewell, New International Version. You have been a faithful translation. You have served me well. I cherish the many memories I have had using you to reach people in the U.S.A., Great Britain, Jamaica, Canada, and any other English speaking country I’ve visited. But it’s time to move on.

Hello, English Standard Version. You have big shoes to fill. But I believe you have what it takes. Let’s do this. The Gospel of Jesus is too important. There’s no place to go but on.

Thanks for listening folks. At least now you understand a little bit about why this is so important to me. Use the comments section and tell me about your favorite, or least favorite, Bible translation. See you next week.