Elder Dave preached an awesome sermon last week. One of the many insights presented he credited as coming from a footnote in the ESV Study Bible. I am probably the LAST person to credit written material over the inspiration that the Spirit brings when a preacher or speaker is led… but in reality they are essentially the same. The same Spirit that inspires our pastors who preach on Sunday inspires authors and scholars who write commentaries or inspirational books that sit on our shelves.
I guess my mental block is that I prefer things to be not only fresh (just discovered), but I like to experience the discovery. Of course, the most effectual and memorable discoveries are those that simply “come” to oneself as one reads or studies Scripture. HOWEVER, there is danger there. First of all, things should be tested against the whole of Scripture, tested against the wisdom of elders in the faith, common sense, and so on. Plus, to only be affected by things self-discovered means a person is completely unteachable. Like a child who touches a hot stove burner even after many warnings from parents… well, a “wise child” will “learn” without having to experience. It’s called faith, or trust in an authority outside oneself. I’ve experienced enough of my own pain and sorrows as the result of dumb mistakes I’ve made ENOUGH to know that when I hear words of wisdom from another… I should contemplate and heed. Yes, it is a thrill to “be there” when a spiritual discovery is made – “Eureka!”… but to learn from the excitement and experience of another is just as valid.
All that to say: Dave had many things to say, all of which he was exuberant about in his delivery. Some discovered by him I’m sure the first time, others just rehearsing known truths in a different way. At any rate, we all need “tools”, no matter our maturity level. A Bible, a concordance, word lookup utilities, dictionaries, and so on. Even a commentary is helpful… though I prefer to use those as a LAST resort, to make sure to give the Spirit opportunity to teach me directly before hearing what someone else has received with similar desires.
Fascinated by the particular insight offered in the ESV Study Bible, I decided to purchase it. It’s kind of pathetic in a way. I have so many Bibles already. Perhaps it is money squandered to purchase yet another. A simple, dedicated man only needs one Bible. For some reason I’m kind of addicted to trying each and every one. I’m a bit moody in my reading too. Sometimes I’ll randomly decide to switch to a different translation in order to keep things fresh, or even challenging and unfamiliar. I bought not only the ESV Study Bible, but an audio version of the full ESV as well. I admit, I already had the ESV New Testament as read by Marquis Laughlin. When I bought that edition, I think I overlooked that it only included the New Testament. I’m actually a HUGE fan of the Old Testament (at least equal, if not more than the New in many ways), so I justified myself to the purchase of the second audio ESV 🙂 I’m also a big fan of pure voices. Other than really liking my Johnny Cash NKJV, I prefer voices that are devoid of odd accents. The more clear and generic, the better. A voice with a really distinct accent might sound fancy at first, but it tends to get on my nerves or becomes distracting after a while (no offense to the voice talents my opinion might throw into that category, no names mentioned!). This latest audio Bible purchase is narrated by David Cochran Heath. His voice is very pure and lacking in excessive emotion and expression. It’s just right, and I feel already that I will probably listen to this edition more than some of my others. Of course, then there’s my “moods”… fortunately I have a Bible for just about every mood (though I’m partial to literal translations as opposed to paraphrases).
I’ll be talking more about my experiences with audio Bibles soon enough. A “preview” in a statement is this: it was through the magically new and fresh experience of listening to the Word of God audibly for the first time that was the timely tool that transformed my heart and led me toward the huge life and spiritual changes that are to be spoken of on this web site. I’ll get more specific with that story later.
I have read a little bit out of my new ESV Study Bible and will be doing more very soon (like, as soon as I get done writing this blog entry… or this and another).