Some years ago, general public and the press frequently used the word 'Glassnost' which was coined by the Russian leader, Gorbachev, meaning 'openness'. There was no openness then in the Soviet Union which has since split into various countries, the major one being Russia. Only filtered news came out of the Soviet Union. Now the 'glassnost' period has further developed and the password is 'Globalisation', which is mostly related to business all over the world. For globalisation we have to think globally and act locally.
Globalisation applies in the field of gospel work, too. It is not necessary for all to go anywhere, but one who is called will go and others will enable them to go by praying and supporting the mission. Then the desired results will be achieved. 'Apostle' means one who is sent.
In fact the Lord Himself, has given the commandment for globalisation of gospel in Matthew 28:18: "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit". Where globalisation of business is concerned, the trading is done in goods and services, whereas in our case, our merchandise is the Word of God and our territory is all over the world. What falls on good ground will yield hundred, sixty and thirty fold. So let us trade in the Word of God and produce manifold fruits leading to establishment of the Kingdom of God which will not be destroyed when tried in fire.
Great lessons from 'Jonah'
C.M. Varghese, IPC Dahisar, Mumbai
The writer stresses on the fact that Jonah - despite his disobedience - was constrained finally to acknowledge that "salvation is of the Lord" when he understood God's marvelous provisions in relation to man.
This book of four chapters is concerned with the personal dealings between Yahweh and His prophet Jonah. His national spirit would have constrained Jonah to disagree with God especially with regard to His dealings with Assyria (Israel's enemy), but certainly he was not a false prophet.
Believed to be written by prophet Jonah himself, son of Amittai at around 722 B.C. He was the native of Gath-hepher, a town about an hour's distance from Nazareth. One Jewish legend is that Jonah is the only son of the widow of Sarepta who had been brought to life again through the ministry of Elijah. He, probably a disciple of Elisha had succeeded him as a prophet. He lived and ministered during the golden era of King Jeroboam II in Israel and King Amaziah of Judah. Jonah has ever been the pride of Israel and revered in high esteem.
Contrary to the school of thought that Jonah is a literary invention, an allegorical or parabolic interpretation, it can be established on the basis of the fulfillment of his prophecy as recorded in 2 Kings 14:25 that Jonah was a historical figure. More over, in answer to the demand for a specific sign to prove His claims, Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself quoting the incident of prophet Jonah's life said that the son of man similarly will be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights (Matt. 12:38-41).
The prophetic commission
Like his immediate predecessors (as Elijah prophesied to Sidon (1Kings 17:8) and Elisha to Syria (2Kings 5:1)), Jonah's ministry was also extended to gentiles when God commissioned him: "Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it". Nineveh was the capital of Assyria, one of the greatest cities of the world situated on the east bank of the river Tigris. The stronghold of the city admeasuring 30 miles long and 10 miles wide was fortified by 5 huge walls of 100 ft height each on which 4 chariots could be driven abreast and with 3 canals surrounding it. The 15 gates to the city were guarded by ferocious lions and colossal bulls. Its wealth, power and intellectual attainments were incredible. Assyria, ever hostile to Israel was at a low ebb morally during this period. So much wickedness prevailed in the city that eventually God decided to destroy Ninevites, certainly after preaching an ultimatum of 40 days. None other than prophet Jonah was commissioned to preach against the city. Jonah would have rejoiced over the commission but for his knowledge of God's compassion towards those who repent. Well aware of the characteristics of Yahweh that He is gracious, compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love (Joel 2:13), Jonah knew that God will not inflict the disaster that was planned on them (Jer. 18:8). He apprehended that if he goes and preaches to the Ninevites, they may perhaps repent and the merciful Yahweh would spare them from the impending doom (as he wished for the foes of Israel). Jonah's national spirit overtook him and he didn't want God's mercy to be poured on to the dreaded enemy - Assyria. He was even prepared for self-sacrifice to attempt a rebellious run-away from the presence of the Lord in utter disobedience to the great commission. So he hurried to the sea port Joppa, paid the fare and boarded a ship sailing to Tarshish diagonally in opposite direction of Nineveh.
The great lessons
Futile are human efforts to hide themselves from the sight of the Lord. Adam and Eve after the first disobedience had attempted in vain to hide themselves among the trees of Eden (Gen. 3:8). Acknowledging the omnipresence of God, King David sang " ...where can I flee from your presence? .. If I go up to the heavens … if I make my bed in the depths … if I rise on the wings of the dawn …. if I settle on the far side of the sea …. you are there ….." (Psa. 139:7-10). On the contrary, Moses the great servant of God prayed "…. if your presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here". God in reply to Moses not only affirmed His presence but also assured rest (Exo. 33:15).
God, in His magnanimity let Jonah go to the extremity up to almost losing his life but arranged enormous provisions to miraculously restore him to the very shore where he fled from. It is not beyond logic that while God commanded a mighty tempest against Jonah's voyage, simultaneous rescue mission was also arranged by commanding a big whale to swim along the ship to rescue Jonah in the eventuality of the ship wreck or the moment he will be thrown into the rough sea. God's ways are the best…always. Better we accept it, lest strange things befall us. The 3 days and 3 nights that Jonah spent in the belly of the big fish, certainly would not have been trouble free, both for him as well as the whale. The strong acidic or alkaline enzymes of the whale's digestive system would have made visible marks at least on his body peripherals facilitating easy identification of the 'restored backslider'. While the afflictions due to his short stay in the stomach of the whale made him cry aloud (2:2), God's marvelous provisions - despite Jonah's disobedience - constrained him to acknowledge that "salvation is of the Lord". That revelation eventually led him to repentance and restoration. He learnt it the hard way. Even though backsliding is not an uncommon phenomenon, every believer ought to be cautioned that the process of restoration will certainly be unpalatable and painful and may leave some indelible imprints on his / her personality too.
It seems ironical that all the sailors aboard the ship to Tarshish almost perished just because of prophet Jonah's presence in the ship; whereas precious lives of 217 people [including hard core criminals (prisoners) being taken to Rome, with accompanying constabulary and crew] were miraculously saved from the disastrous ship-wreck just because St. Paul, the servant of the Living Lord happened to be one among the prisoners in that ill-fated ship. Therefore, it can be inferred that our existence on the globe - either as active or passive Christians - will definitely have positive or adverse implications on the society. Christian believers, as salt of the earth, have specific roles to play. Beware! Salt sans savour has only nuisance value.
Human behavior is strange, at times! Not only the dispirited Jonah (snoring in the lowest deck of the strolling ship), but also the rejuvenated / re-commissioned Jonah back at Nineveh (awaiting the repercussions of his preaching) desired to die. However, it is a matter of solace for Christian believers to note that his is not an isolated incident. Prophet Elijah and Moses are other great Bible characters who too had expressed the desire to die at certain dispirited moments of their ministries. Our God is so gracious and compassionate and will never ever allow his people to die in desolation just because of a few omissions or commissions. Blessed are those who choose to be ever obedient and cling unto the Lord like Job, Samuel, Joseph and Daniel.
Another salient observation from the book of Jonah is that all creations, whether it be the whirlwind, the east wind, the whale, the wild-vine or the tiny worm, are ever obedient to God's instructions and are never indifferent to His orders. But, it is only man - 'the roof and crown' of His creations - in his foolishness who would dare to disobey God.
Thrilled by the complete repentance of the Ninevites, the Almighty Yahweh in His magnanimity did not bring upon them the destruction they were warned of (3:10). "Jonah was greatly displeased and became angry" over this (4:1). The Bible again says that "Jonah was very happy about the wild-vine" (4:6) and became "angry enough to die" (4:9). The same Jonah who composed a beautiful psalm lying in the belly of the whale (Ch.2) rightly admiring the great attributes of Jehovah as compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love etc. is now wrought with anger when God (who is the same yesterday, today and forever - Heb. 13:8) extended compassion to the Ninevites. As a good theologian, Jonah is well aware of the characteristics of God but definitely was not of 'God's mind'. "Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up" (1Cor. 8:1). The Holy Bible instructs us to posses the mind of Christ (1Cor. 2:10). Astonishingly, much more than the precious salvation of the multitude of 1,20,000+ ignorant Ninevite-sinners, Jonah's concern is about the withering away of the wild-vine for which he had not laboured at all.
It appears as if Jonah was waiting for a chance to defend his fleeing off to Tarshish in contravention of God's instructions. Aptly quoting from the scripture about the attributes of Yahweh, the once repented and then rejuvenated Jonah now attempts stupidly to justify his earlier fall-out (4:2). The human efforts for self justification have its origin in Adam, his ancestor who held his wife Eve and indirectly God for the cause of his disobedience (Gen. 3:12). Despite David having committed grievous sins in his life, the Holy Spirit has qualified him as a man of God's own heart (Acts 13:22) since he had never attempted to cover his sins, but rather sought God's pardon in remorse and tears and obtained it. Hence, the 'sweet psalmist of Israel' sang: "I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said I will confess my transgressions to the Lord and you forgave the guilt of my sin" (Psa. 32:5). The Bible says "He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy" (Pro. 28:13).
Though the book is silent, it is quite reasonable if we infer that God by means of His long suffering and persuading love would have eventually impressed Jonah that salvation is God's sovereign prerogative.
"I will have mercy on whom I have mercy and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion" (Rom. 9:15).
An approachable, available, lovable God
Pastor Jays Abraham, New York, USA
Pastor Jays Abraham stresses the fact that God's plan from the beginning was to dwell and walk among His children and be worshipped. He still waits for people to seek Him so that He can dwell with them forever
One day the king of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar was troubled by dreams he saw. So he called together all the magicians, astrologers, sorcerers, and the Chaldeans who were "the wise men of Babylon" (Dan. 2:10). Then Nebuchadnezzar told them he couldn't remember his dreams and asked the wise men of Babylon to tell him what he saw and then to interpret the dreams. When they were not able to reveal the king's dreams, they replied that there was not a person on earth who could reveal his dreams to him except "the gods, whose dwelling is not with flesh" (Dan. 2:11). By this reply, the wise men of Babylon were also acknowledging that their gods were not capable of living with people.
Jacob, the twin of his older brother Esau, tricked his father to give him all the blessings intended for Esau. When Esau realized what had happened he threatened to kill Jacob. On his escape to his uncle's house, Jacob was tired and he went to sleep. When he woke from his sleep, he said that the Lord was in that place but he didn't know of it (Gen. 28:16). Jacob failed to recognize God's presence at that time because he didn't have a relationship with God. Jacob didn't know of God's habitation with him till after God had left him.
The Israelites cried out to God for deliverance from slavery in Egypt. God answered them by miraculously freeing them from the hands of the tyrant Pharaoh. God promised them a land flowing with milk and honey and untold riches provided they worshipped him. The psalmist wrote in Psa. 78:17-20 that the Israelites sinned more against God by provoking and tempting Him. They spoke against God and questioned His habitation among them. The Bible says that the Rock that followed the Israelites in the wilderness was Christ. This God eagerly followed them waiting for their repentance and wanting worship. He provided them drinking water to quench their thirst, gave them food, protected them from enemies and wanted to dwell with them and establish an everlasting relationship with the people. In spite of their new blessings, the Israelites didn't recognize God's habitation with them. Instead Aaron and his people mocked God's habitation among them by making a golden calf to represent the God who rescued them from the land of Egypt. They proceeded to worship the golden calf further infuriating God (Exo. 32:4-5). Therefore God killed the majority of them in the wilderness because they willingly rejected his habitation among them (1 Cor 10:4-5).
On the day of Pentecost a group of 120 people including Peter, James, John, Andrew, Philip, Thomas, Bartholomew, Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, Simon the Zealot, Judas the son of James, Mary the mother of Jesus and the brothers of Jesus came together in one accord in prayer and supplication (Acts 1:13-14). They were in the upper room in Jerusalem waiting for the gift of the Holy Spirit which the Father would give them just as Jesus had promised them (Luke 24:49 ). They had been with Jesus during His earthly ministry, His sufferings, and resurrection. Some of them had also witnessed His bodily ascension to heaven (Acts 1:11). They were saddened because Jesus had left them to go to heaven. As Martha and Mary the sisters of Lazarus told Jesus "Lord, if you had been here" (John 11:21, 31), these men and women treasured God's habitation in their lives.
These four groups of people varied in their responses with respect to God's willingness to tabernacle among them. As far as the wise men of Babylon knew they didn't believe that God could have a relational habitation with people. Like Jacob, many do not recognize God's presence in their lives till it is too late. They are entangled in their personal agendas, running in fear or in sin thus not giving room for God's presence even when God approaches them seeking a relationship. They fail to recognize God's presence in their lives. Thirdly, we see a generation that rejected God's habitation with them. They didn't obey nor worship Him; so God in His wrath destroyed them. Fourthly we witness a group of men and women who wanting to have more of God's presence in their lives waited for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
God is approachable, available, and lovable. In order for humanity to fully understand God, He took the form of man. He simplified himself for our understanding. He became flesh. God revealed Himself to all people in Jesus Christ. That is why during His incarnation, Jesus was called "Immanuel" meaning "God with us" (Mat. 1:23). God made it possible for people to understand Him, love him, walk with him and take Him home with them. God is communicable - people can speak with Him. Jesus Christ said that He Himself is the Way, the Truth and the Life (John 14:6). There is no alternate way to get to know God. The truth about God is revealed only in Jesus Christ. No one can find life in anyone or anything else other than in the life provided through Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is God, one of the Trinity that is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. When Jesus was approached by the armed guards who came to arrest Him and asked who they were looking for, He said "I AM he" making the same statement as made to Moses (Exo. 3:14), and the soldiers fell to the ground (John 18:6). God's purpose to take the form of man was to have a lively habitable relationship with humanity (John 1:14).
God's plan from the beginning was to dwell (Exo. 29:45), to walk (Lev. 26:12) among His children and be worshipped. He still waits for people to seek him so that He can be dwell with them forever (Eze. 43:9). Korah declared that the "Lord is with us" in Psalm 46:7. God is interested in a mutual relationship with people. He is interested in every activity of His people. David wrote in Psalm 139:2-4 that God scrutinizes His children's sitting down, waking up, and thoughts. God watches where they sleep and where they go. He is even interested in knowing what they speak and to whom their praises are directed to. Christ's beloved disciple John reminds us that God Himself will be with His people and be their God (Rev. 21:3). Jesus promised to be with His people "always even to the end of the world" (Mat. 28:20). Let us be able to confess that Jesus is God, which initiates God's ever present habitation in us and we in him (1 John 4:15).
From the pulpit: Symbol that transformed curse into hope
Rev. Dr. Baby Varghese, Dallas
"Say among the heathen that the Lord reigneth; the world also shall be established that it shall not be moved; He shall judge the people righteously."
When Jesus died on the cross, the world evaluated it as a great failure. What were His proclamations? Jesus said unto them, "I am the bread of life; he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst" (John 6:35). The same Jesus who had proclaimed Himself the light of the world was now burning as a finished candle. Jesus said unto her, "I am the resurrection and the life; he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live" (John 11:25). This same Jesus is now giving Himself to death. What a failure! He could not escape from the cross of shame and curse. All His proclamations went in vain. Those who were going near Him were laughing at Him. His own people whom He loved betrayed Him. No disciples were there when He was crucified. Everyone left Him.
Not even one person could understand the way of His mission. Therefore, nobody was there to feel sad about it. Nobody was there to console Him. No human was there to give mercy to Him. The people did not correctly understand the words of Jesus and His ministry. Those who follow His footsteps have the same thing in this world. In this world's eye, we may be fools. Those who walk along with us may also go away.
When you are alone, remember, you are sharing the cross of Jesus. The same cross was a symbol of victory. The symbol of curse became a sign of hope. To make His word truth, He resurrected from death. At Golgotha , the place of death and curses became the place of the throne.
Meditation: Haughty spirit; pathway to fall
Reading: Obadiah 1:21
"The pride of your heart has deceived you, you who live in the clefts of the rocks and make your home on the heights" (Obadiah 1:3).
Titanic, the largest and most luxurious ship afloat then, sank on April 15, 1912 during its maiden voyage. It had a double-bottomed hull divided into 16 watertight compartments. It was considered unsinkable. The builders of Titanic claimed, no power on earth could sink the ship. They didn't even bother to take enough lifeboats for its first voyage! However, shortly before midnight on April 14, it collided with an iceberg, and the ship sank. Over 1,500 of its 2,200 passengers lost their lives in the Atlantic.
What made the Titanic sink? Ice berg? No! I would to say, it was pride! "Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall" (Prov. 16:18).
Edom was a hill city, situated in the clefts of rocks that acted as a natural fort. No enemy could normally defeat the city, as it was high on the rocky mountains. In addition, she had strong allies (v.7). Therefore, Edom said, "No one can bring me down to the ground!" (v.3).
Do you think you are living in the "high mountains," holding positions in your office, organization, church? Do you think you live in the clefts of the rocks, like wealth, health, wisdom (craftiness)? May be you have strong allies… influence in the administrative body, with politicians…
Although you show humility outside, may be you are proud in your heart. You cannot trick God! God says… "though your nest is set among the stars, thence I will bring you down" (v.4).
"The pride of your heart has deceived you", says the Lord! Pride becomes a deception because the proud will never listen to warnings! "The strong allies" also deceived Edom. Her destruction was inevitable!
When we have everything and everybody with us, we are confident in ourselves and we ignore warnings! But that's a deception. Some one with a haughty heart can never please God.
'All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble." Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time' (1 Peter 5:5-6).
Prayer: Lord, Let me not be deceived by possessions, positions or allies. Let me know that I am just dust and ash, Amen
Youth Forum: Lead a holy life - in this wicked and perverse generation
Jaison Varghese, Mumbai
The writer says that the ultimate responsibility of we, Christians, in this generation is to present a Christ - like image to the outside world and live a victorious and holy life. Let us strive with the help of our Lord Jesus to live a holy life.
The concept of holiness is of supreme importance in the Bible. Both OT & NT stress on being "holy". Apostles Peter and Paul exhort us to live in holiness in this crooked and depraved generation (1 Peter 1:15-16, Phil. 2:14).
Our God is holy, that is what we read in Isa. 6:2-3 & Rev. 22-18. Also 1 Thess. 4:7 says: For God did not call us to be impure but to live a holy life ('Holiness' means, 'set apart'). What is holiness?
Firstly: We see that holiness is one of the very purposes of being a Christian and our God is holy. So He wants all His followers to be holy. If we do not lead our life in holiness then we can expect judgement.
Secondly: In the final day of judgement, holiness will be one of the criteria by which a person will be judged
Thirdly: God has set us apart from the creation of the world for Himself. 1 Peter 2:7 says: You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood and a holy nation.
Therefore holiness is a very important aspect in Christian life.
I read one example the other day about holiness. It said: A shopper goes to buy some fresh fruits, he sorts through the fruits and finds one fresh apple. He sets this 'good' apple aside. This is also how God has set us apart as holy.
Do you know what will happen if that apple is put back in the pile of bad apples? The "rotten" apples make the good one also "rotten" and bad. This is similar in a Christian's life too.
John 15:19 says: You do not belong to the world but I've chosen you out of the world. God has chosen us an fresh apples from this wicked world. Also Jesus says: "For they are not of the world anymore" (John 17:14). But this does not mean that all Christians should go out of this world to lead a holy life.
How then can holiness be attained?
Holiness is not a one time experience but it is a daily process. When we accepted Jesus Christ we were declared as "saints". We must continue to remain holy by maintaining a prayerful lift so as to continue receiving strength from God to lead a holy life and sanctify ourselves daily by asking forgiveness of our sins.
Holiness can be attained by separation from the world and living according to God's word. If we do not lead a life according to the word of God then our God's name will be defamed by our acts and God's plan to save the people through us will not be fulfilled and we will be accountable to God.
The best example of holiness seen in the Bible is the example of Daniel and his friends. They stood courageously for holiness and their God even though they knew about the dangerous consequences that lay ahead of them. The result we can clearly see, the heathen king and the whole kingdom realized that Daniel's God is the living God.
1 Cor. 3:16 says: We are the temple of the Holy Spirit and that God dwells in us. Also we read similar verses in Rom. 12:1: We should keep our bodies holy in whatever we do, so that we bring glory to His name. The ultimate responsibility of we Christians in this generation is to present a Christ - like image to the outside world and live a victorious and holy life. Let us strive with the help of our Lord Jesus to live a holy life.
Short Story: The great love of God
Gloria Benny, Panvel
An engine driver noticed a boy running fast towards the train. He pressed the horn several times. But still the boy kept running towards the train without fear. In order to save the boy from coming under the train, the driver was forced to stop the train. He then came out of the engine room and asked the boy: "Why are you running towards the train? You wll be crushed under it".
The boy replied: "I was running towards the train to give you a message".
The driver asked: "What is your message?"
The boy told him that the bridge ahead is broken. The driver thanked the boy for saving hundreds of people by giving the warning at the right time.
A small boy saved hundred of people by risking his own life. Likewise our loving God sent His one and only begotten Son to the world to save the sinners.
John 3:16: "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have an everlasting life".
Almighty God's creative genius: Earth' is special!
In a new research, it has been determined that worlds have to be about the size of Earth to be conducive for life. The discovery of 'super-Earths' - rocky planets about five to ten times the mass of Earth - outside the solar system had raised hopes that life may exist in some of them. But it can reasonably be concluded that such a possibility is quite remote. For the benefit of general reading public, I quote a passage from the report: "It has now been proved that life is comfortable on Earth in part because of its relatively stable climate and its magnetic field, which deflects cosmic radiation capable of damaging organic molecules. The long term stability of Earth's climate depends on the way the planet's crust is broken up into plates, which continually slide over and under one another in a process called plate tectonics. Now, it seems rocky worlds have to be about the size of Earth to have both plate tectonics and magnetic fields, according to Lade Stamenkovic of the German Aerospace Center in Berlin. Heat from Earth's core creates the convection currents needed for plate tectonics. Such currents generate the force to tear the crust, produce multiple plates and move those plates around. Stamenkovic's team found that the pressure and viscosity inside a 'super-Earth' would be so high that a stagnant, insulating layer would form outside the core, weakening the convective currents needed to drive plate tectonics thus making the process unlikely. The researchers also found that the slow transfer of heat out of the core in 'super-Earths' would prevent a sufficiently rapid circulation of their molten cores, robbing them of a magnetic field. According to Stamenkovic, "Earth is special".
This conclusion will not come as a surprise to Bible students. We learn unambiguously from the Scriptures that the Creator God in His infinite wisdom made man as the 'crown of creation' after making the earth comfortable and inhabitable. Plants, flowers, fruit bearing trees, animals, rivers and all that is required for man's sustenance, enjoyment and caring were created before man was finally brought into being. Pondering on the plans of Almighty God, St. Paul breaks into poetry:
"Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!
Who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has been his counselor?
Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him?
For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen" (Rom. 11:33-36)
Pick pockets turn 'Putpockets'
A few former pickpockets have turned over a new leaf and are now walking through London's tourist sites slipping money back into unsuspecting pockets. 5 pounds to 20 pound notes are being surreptitiously deposited in unguarded pockets or open handbags in Trafalgar Square, Covent Garden and other busy spots according to reports appearing in newspapers. The head of the 'putpocketing' initiative says: "It feels good to give something back for a change - and Britons certainly need it in the current economic climate. Every time I put money back in someone's pocket, I feel less guilty about the fact I spent many years taking it out".
It will be nice if this 'putpocketing' business has come out of genuine repentance and turing to God as in the case of Zacchaeus. Otherwise it will be just "feel good" and "less guilty" feeling which will soon pass.
Revised NIV version in 2011
The first complete update of the NIV since 1984 will be available in 2011 according to the publishers, Zondervan. Keith Danby, global president of Biblica, formerly the International Bible Society, announced at a news conference: "If we want to maintain the NIV as a Bible that English speakers around the world can understand, we have to listen to and respect the vocabulary they are using today". Biblica is the translation sponsor and copyright holder of the NIV, and Zondervan is the publisher. A 15-member independent panel of translators from various denominations and different parts of the world, the CBT - a self-perpetuating committee - was formed for the purpose of creating and revising the NIV. The first version of the NIV was released in 1978, and since then it has become the most popular modern English Bible translation in the world, with more than 300 million copies.
Douglas Moo, chairman of the CBT, said: "As a committee, our response to this challenge has always been to follow the example of the original Bible writers who wrote in forms of Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek that reflected the language spoken by the ordinary working people of their day. Just as the New Testament is written in 'common' Greek, our aim with the NIV Bible is and always has been to translate the Bible into what you might call 'common' English. The new 2011 NIV is all about maintaining and enhancing the original values of the NIV for today's readers. We're looking for a translation that is above all accurate, that says what the original authors said in a way they would have said it had they been speaking English to the global English speaking audience today". He also added: "We are all committed evangelicals, believing in the authority of God's Word. The importance of every word in God's Word is very dear to us, and that's what our mandate is. We cannot bow to any particular current pressure group and try to fit the Bible into a cultural mode. Then the Bible loses its ability to speak to us and change us".
The NIV version as it is available today is generally accepted by all. Let us earnestly hope and pray that the committee members who are doing the revision work keep the purity of the Word of God in their minds and do not introduce the present day liberal views into the text.
'Pilots for Christ' give free lift to patients
9-year-old Tyler Trembley is getting better after heavy chemotherapy and surgery to remove a tumor wrapped around his kidney. He had to travel thousands of miles to specialty hospitals in Alabama and New York with the help of 'Pilots for Christ', an aviation ministry which aids those with medical needs by providing free flights for medical care. Tommy Lee, who established the local chapter of the national 'Pilots for Christ' in 1994, flew Tyler free of cost in his own plane. Lee, who owns a car dealership, says: "Our service is our ministry". The organization has no nurses and cannot take anybody who needs medical assistance en route. 'Pilots for Christ' depends on volunteer time given by pilots and the use of their planes, and from donations that pay for fuel and mission support.
There are numerous stories of critically ill patients who were taken to speciality hospitals in different parts of USA free of charge by 'Pilots for Christ''. Bob Eubanks, a retired orthopedic surgeon who's also a member of 'Pilots for Christ', says: "Each of these trips is bathed in prayer". Tyler's mother remembers: "The prayer led by the pilot at the beginning of each flight used to strengthen her emotionally". Let us appreciate the great work that the organization is doing in the name of the Lord.
Personalities encountered by Jesus - 16: Woman who touched His robe
"Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak" (Matt. 9:20)
Jesus was on His way to the house of Jarius to raise that official's daughter from the dead, when this nameless woman in the crowd demonstrated the power of intense faith. There were probably two reasons why she did not openly ask Jesus to heal her. First, according to religious laws among the Jews, she was considered unclean. Second, the intense nature of her illness was such that she probably considered it immodest to mention it publicly.
Instead, she said within herself: "If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed". She did not realize that Jesus would be aware of her touch. In the multitude that accompanied Him, many must have brushed against Him, or plucked at His sleeve with this or that request. But the touch of this woman was different. It was the hand of faith, reaching out to salvation.
And Jesus immediately turned and asked those about Him: "Who touched me?" Everyone denied having done so. Then Peter said: "Master, the multitude throng thee and press thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me?"
Jesus explained that somebody had touched Him, "for I perceive that virtue is gone out of me". When she saw that her act had been discovered, the woman came forward, trembling. Falling at Jesus' feet, she confessed to Him and to everybody present why she had touched Him, and how she had been instantly healed. Jesus reassured her. "Take heart, daughter," he said, "your faith has healed you".
As Prof. F. Davidson observes: "It is still true that while multitudes throng Jesus, it is the few who touch Him".
Children's corner: Let us have a godly perspective
Jenny was a studious girl and she scored well in her exams and she was very conscious of her achievements. She always wanted everyone to appreciate her. She thought one day she would be a very famous person. She studied hard so that she would one day get a good job and make lots of money. She thought having a lot of luxury would make her happy. But her friend Sally who was equally brilliant like her, was a born-again believer. She worked hard at her studies and scored well in her exams. She was taught by her parents that all the good things that we enjoy in life was to glorify God and pleasing God was more important than pleasing ourselves. She wanted to be a doctor and serve others so that she could tell them about the saviour of the world. In her college she took every opportunity to tell her friends about a God who loved and cared for them. When her classmates were in need or trouble she always helped them out and prayed for them. She grew up to be a doctor but she went as a missionary to a developing country, where she used her medical skills to treat the poor people and share the gospel with them. In the process she was able to win many souls for the kingdom of God.
God desires that we would live our life to please Him and fulfil His purpose through our life. This life is fleeting and it will be over soon. But the life that is hereafter is eternal and we need to prepare ourselves for that life. We should not be self-centered and live to please ourselves. Rather we should have a godly perspective and live to please God and fulfil His will in our life. Read: 1Peter 4:2,10 ; 1Thes. 4:1. God bless you.