Archive | May, 2013

The Perfect translation? by Eddie Arthur

29 May

We’re thinking about the Bible on God52 at the moment, as you’ll find if you read this week’s challenge. In this guest blog, Wycliffe UK’s Eddie Arthur encourages us to consider what our view on the best Bible translation says about us.

Eddie Talking 2If you ever feel like starting an online argument; just ask people what their favourite version of the Bible is. People get really excited about this one and start chucking terms like paraphrase and dynamic equivalence around like hand grenades. Some people love to argue about Bible translations!

Can I let you into a secret? Almost all of the English translations are really good. The NIV, ESV, NLT and a host of other three letter acronyms are all worth reading. They have their strengths and weaknesses and some are more suitable in some situations than others; but they are all good translations. Oh, did I mention that I’m a Bible translator?

To be frank, I don’t care which translation of the Bible you read as long as you read it. Far better to read a version of the Bible that isn’t perfect than to have the world’s greatest translation sitting on your shelves unopened. Get into the Word and don’t get paranoid about finding the perfect translation.

Meanwhile, as English speakers get all heated up about which translation they should read, there are about 210,000,000 people who don’t have a single word of the Bible in their language. That’s right, while we have shelves of versions to choose from, there are about 2,000 languages without a verse of Scripture.

Just imagine trying to plant a church or to help Christians grow without being able to open a Bible and show people what God was saying to them. How about your own Christian life? How would you get along if you didn’t have a Bible or if you had to read it in French or Spanish?

But it goes deeper than this. Think about what it must mean to have a language that is so obscure that even God doesn’t seem to speak it. The people who don’t have a Bible in their language are among the most marginalised in the world. If there is Bible, there is probably no other literature either; nothing written down. If you don’t have a Bible in your language, your educational and political options will be limited and child mortality rates will be higher.

Years ago, it was Christians who pioneered education in the UK; so that everyone could read the Bible. This story is being repeated around the world today as Bible translators and others reach out to the most marginalised.

Eddie Arthur is the Executive Director of Wycliffe UK. Follow him on Twitter @Kouya, or find out more about Wycliffe at www.wycliffe.org.uk

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God 52 – Week Twenty-two (28/5/2013)

28 May

concentrationHope you’re enjoying the continuing focus on the Bible – this week we’re going to drill down even deeper, but if you’ve missed the last couple of weeks, then read this, then this, and catch up!

The first step of the spiritual discipline of Study is repetition (as we explored last week); the second is concentration. This is where we move beyond simply repeatedly reading a passage or chapter, to bringing our full attention to it. In order to make that a little easier, we’re going to pick a short passage of no more than ten verses. If you’re doing this as a progression from the last two challenges, then choose a passage from within the chapter you read last week. If not, maybe just pick a passage from one of the gospels.

22: Set aside at least fifteen minutes to concentrate on a passage of scripture

Time-wise this might sound like an easy task – certainly a walk in the park compared to some of our previous challenges. But because you’re only reading a handful of verses, concentrating for a full fifteen minutes (or more) will require an effort of will and self-discipline.

Allow God to speak to you as you read, and enjoy giving your full attention to his word.

We’d love some guest blogs this week on the subject of Bible study – if you’d like to write one, please read our writing guidelines, then drop us an email.

God 52 – Week Twenty-one (21/5/2013)

21 May
This is 2 Unlimited, singing their 1993 hit 'No Limit.'

This is 2 Unlimited, singing their 1993 hit ‘No Limit.’ I’m sure it’s obvious why.

We tricked you. Last week’s challenge is far from over.

This week, we’re going to be moving into the second part of what will be a multi-part exploration of the Spiritual Discipline of Study. Last week you chose a book of the Bible to read all the way through (didn’t you? No? Quick, go back and do that now).

This week, you’re going to focus down on a single chapter:

21: Pick a chapter from the book you read last week, and read that chapter every day

That’s right. Read the same chapter, every day this week. It shouldn’t take a huge effort of the will – just put aside a little time each day to read the chapter. This is the first element of the discipline of Study: repetition. Think of it like going to the spiritual gym and doing some ‘reps’.

We’re not asking you to do anything more than this – although next week, things will get a little more complicated. For now, just read a chapter,

Then read it again the next day,

and again the next,

and again,

and again,

and again,

and again.

Easy enough, right?

God 52 – Week Twenty (14/5/2013)

14 May

It’s a busy week here at God52 towers. If you’re unsure why, go here and book tickets. Right, that’s the advert over. Anyway, as it’s busy we figured we’d set a challenge that was easy, and wouldn’t take up too much time.

NAAAAAAAAAAAAT. (I’m bringing back that classic 90s gag of saying something, and then shouting NOT afterwards. I’ve no idea why that stopped being popular.)

So this week’s challenge, some of you will find this super easy, others, and especially if you’re like me, will find it more of a stretch. I’m rubbish at reading my Bible, I need both a daily app and an alarm on my phone telling me to do it, and over time they become easy to ignore, but I push myself. I have to, because I know it’s important, I know it’s life changing. And I know that once I get into the rhythm of reading it regularly, the easier and more life affirming it becomes. So…

20: Read an entire book of the Bible during this week.

You could read Psalms or Philemon, John or 3 John, it’s up to you. Just take a chunk of time this week to let God’s word speak to you.

We’re always on the look out for guest bloggers. If you’d like to write a guest post this week on friendliness, please read our writing guidelines, then drop us
an email.

 

Smiling: a basic social skill, by Lynn McCann

10 May

Writing in response to this week’s friendliness challengeLynnMcann, Lynn McCann asks: what’s in a smile?

I must admit that this week’s God52 challenge made me smile… well that’s what we’re being asked to do!

I work with children who have autism.  It is a social disability.  Some of them have missed out on the early development of social skills that most of us take for granted.  Therefore I spend a lot of time assessing children’s social skill ability and putting teaching programmes in place that teach the basic social skills step by step.  Children without autism learn these things naturally through interaction with their parents, carers and other children.

So what is in a smile?

We usually begin by giving eye contact, our facial muscles form the smile and we pause long enough to wait for a reaction by the other person. If we are feeling confident we might add a greeting. We then pause ever-so-briefly again to wait for a reply.  If all goes well you and the other person can then comfortably move on or start an extended interaction that might develop into full-blown conversation.

What has happened is a two-way communication. Maybe it is something you take for granted and that comes very naturally to you. Maybe you feel a little awkward but can make yourself do it if you think about it. Maybe you’ve just got out of the habit.

What we as humans receive from a smile is a message that says, “I acknowledge you. I am taking my focus away from myself for a moment and giving my attention to you. You have significance and I am showing pleasure in connecting with you.”

However brief this may be, the person on the receiving end can be built up, drawn out of loneliness or sadness. They may smile back, and that can release endorphins in the brain that lifts a mood. A smile can be quite powerful.

One of the joys of my work is receiving a smile from a child with autism that is purposely directed at me. It may be in response to something I’ve given them, something we did together or even better, in response to seeing me. It makes my heart sing.

When we smile at others we are sharing a reflection of our heavenly Father. God smiles down on his people because Jesus has dealt with all our sins and now we can enter into a wonderful relationship with him.  If we want others to know how much God loves them…then a smile can reflect his thoughts, open hearts and lead to great communication.

Lynn McCann is a wife, mum to two teenagers, and an ASD teacher who loves Jesus with all her heart. She blogs at http://includedbygrace.wordpress.com about faith, life, and sharing the gospel with people with learning disabilties and ASD.

God 52 – Week Nineteen (7/4/13)

8 May

Good-Morning-VietnamThis week’s challenge is – on the face of it – one of the easiest and most straightforward so far. But since I’ve already embarked on it (you could say I’ve been beta testing), let me tell you: it really isn’t. Or at least, it really isn’t for a sour old curmudgeon like me.

Here it is – a challenge all about friendliness and kindness (two marvelous virtues, right?):

19: Say ‘Good Morning’ to as many people as you can, every morning for a week.

It’s so simple, it almost feels like we’re cheating you. All you have to do is evade the natural predisposition to adopt the thousand-yard-stare as you pass strangers on the street. Instead, you just have to smile and greet them.

It’s tragic, isn’t it, that this is so radically counter-cultural for some of us? In some parts of the UK, where I live, we simply don’t do this anymore. In fact, some people think you’re a bit weird if you do. But as some tiny first step towards improving the sense of community where you live, why not buck the trend for a week?

Say good morning. Smile. Heaven forbid, you might even start a conversation. I’ve tried it – it’s not easy (at least for me). But it could be so important in reducing that person’s sense of isolation, fear or despair. You simply have no idea what God might do through two simple words…

It’s morning soon. Are you up for the challenge?

We’re always on the look out for guest bloggers. If you’d like to write a guest post this week on friendliness, please read our writing guidelines, then drop me an email.

God 52 – Week Eighteen (30/4/13)

2 May

Stop_signYou may remember Martin’s apology from last week’s challenge. Well I’ve managed to outdo him on the tardiness front and I can only offer massively apologies, aside from everything else we’ve been trying to finish a magazine this week. (On a side note it’s easily the most spectacular issue of Youthwork that I’ve been involved with.)

But anyway, I was thinking about this week’s challenge/beating myself up for doing it late/trying to get it done quickly enough so that Mart wouldn’t remove me from being an admin when I just felt that I needed to stop. Not for long, not quit, not give up on the stuff God has given me to do, but just to stop for a bit.

So that’s this week’s challenge.

18: Stop and take some time to yourself.

I could bang on about this for a bit, it’s a Biblical principle, the Sabbath was so important that it was one of the Ten Commandments. But more than anything, it’s practical. You’re all busy. We’re all busy. You can tell by the times we’ve been posting these. And it seems like a decent chunk of the people on board the God52 gravy train are youth workers. People who spend their whole time giving, giving, giving. WELL STOP IT. This week carve some time out to do something that feeds you. I’m going to watch the final of Masterchef and go to Norwich to watch Aston Villa play. I’ll sing, I’ll (hopefully) celebrate, I’ll relax and be with friends, all in the knowledge that God has created me to live this life.

Glorious right?

AND NO. We don’t want your guest blogs this week. Less writing, more stopping.