Thursday, February 11, 2010

An apology

After I wrote that post last night (early this morning), I went to bed, tried to sleep. Couldn't.  It was poorly done, you see. What I wrote last night, I mean.The idea wasn't bad--to practice and practice the Word of God, to let it shape our lives, rather than try to mold it to us.  But my assertion that I actually know a verse in every chapter from Matthew to Revelation is a gross exaggeration.  A shameful one.  If there was a test on such a thing, I'd fail.  It is fair to say I try.  True.  But a lie, nonetheless.

Also true that from Romans to Colossians I manage well, though 6 different translations are used (sometimes in the same passage) to recite a verse.  For example, Romans 12: 1-2 "I appeal to you, therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as living sacrificies, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Don't let the world around you squeeze you into its mold but let God remold your minds from within so that you will approve in practice what the will of God is--His good, pleasing and perfect will."
 I just looked through several Bibles to figure out what translation I've memorized from, and here's my amalgamation:
What I've done here is join the Revised Standard (the version I had to memorize from in college), with the JB Phillips Translation (the translation of choice in high school), a bit of the Living Bible thrown in, and a clause of the NIV which I've used most of my adult life.  And I can't seem to make anything else stick. 

But then there are the gospels.  Oh, the Synoptic Gospels.  For those of you who didn't spend 7 years getting college degrees in the Bible as I did, this phrase might not be familiar.  It simply refers to Matthew, Mark and Luke.  They come from a similar source, scholars believe.  A source named "Q".  This is why there is so much cross-over in the stories of these three gospels, though the purpose, audience, and authorship of each make them very different books.  Mark was probably the earliest written, and Peter probably stood behind Mark (John Mark was the author's name) adding to the telling.  The idea in Mark was simply to 'get it down.'  Just the facts, ma'am!  Matthew and Luke had both had Mark's gospel in hand (as well as "Q") when they penned their God-breathed words.  Matthew's focus was to show how Jesus fulfilled the prophecies of Israel, how He was the Messiah.  Luke, written with Paul at the physician's elbow, was written to reveal the Incarnate--God in human flesh.  There are more healings in Luke.  But also many--many more parables.  In fact, from chapter 11-18, basically, Luke is one parable after another.

Anyway, I can get lost in these gospels.  They sound alike.  They are alike.  Of course.  The Lord's prayer in Matthew 6 is also in Luke 11 (though in a more succinct version).  And--and this is the most shameful part--I've always been more drawn to the epistles than the gospels.  At least I was when I was younger and memorizing came more easily.  So I don't have the synoptics in my head very well.  Or in my heart.  So I misrepresented myself last night.  I absolutely DO NOT know verses in every chapter in Matthew, Mark or Luke.  Some, yes.  A few.  Not all.  Not even close.  Forgive me for saying I did.  That was a lie.

The truth is, I often make myself sound better than I am.  More holy.  I am not.  Holy, that is.  I am a sinner, saved by grace.  Thank God.  Thank God. Thank God.  And if His Word is hidden in my heart at all, it's because--and ONLY because His Holy Incarnate Word dwells in that same heart.  Is working in me.  Changes me. Restores my soul, even when I sin.  Like when I misrepresent myself or the Truth.

Change my heart.

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