New Year’s Thought – 2018

Well, this year went by in a blaze of speed I had not yet felt. I can’t believe it is now 2018. I’ve been through a lot this year for it to be over so soon. I’ve finished some projects and had to reevaluate others. I’ve missed out on some goals while pursuing others. I didn’t quite complete my goal of getting the commentaries on 1 – 3 John finished in order to get them to print, but I see a bright future in 2018 for the Believe Something Better Bible Commentary Series. I also feel excited for the possibility of a newsletter for Believe Better Ministries. We will see what the Lord permits me to do this year.

My thoughts this time of year are typically very reflective. Christmas is over, things are winding down it is time to sit down and read my journal and see what happened this year. (Most of the time what I really mean is see how I messed up this year.) This year has been different. I am not saying I am different, but the time is different. I still feel reflective, I just haven’t had the time to sit down and read my journal or really put any effort into self-doubt (I will admit I am not suffering from the symptoms of seasonal depression as badly this year.

This has brought to mind a truth which I seem to remember about January 12th and forget again on February 1st. We are not meant to wallow in our past mistakes! We need to forget them and move on. I am not saying we need to ignore them, I’m saying we need to learn from them but then move passed them. There is a verse which is commonly used as a new year’s verse (so you will forgive me for doing it now) and it is appropriate.

“Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 3:13-14 ESV

This is not just something I want to remember during the first and last weeks of each year, but rather it is something I want to remember for this whole year. I am going to put it on my book marks, in my notebooks, on a card in my wallet, simply it is going to be everywhere for me this year. I am going to make it my verses of the year.

Maybe we can do it together. Let’s make these two verses the verses of 2018, and let’s treat those around us with the same courtesy. The friend whom you’ve had an argument with and you can’t remember how it started? End it, forget it. The estranged family member? Reach out to them, you make the steps for mending your relationship. How we treat the people in our lives should be a reflection of how we love God (see 1 John), so, treat your loved ones with full unconditional love (agape love).

This is my major goal for 2018: Unconditional, godlike, love through forgetting what lies behind and striving to what lies before. Happy New Year, everyone!

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Christmas Thought – 2017

Christmas is here again. My thoughts this year have been on relationships and the application of love in our Christian lives. I’ve been going over the passages of the “Greatest Commandment” in consideration of John’s teaching in 1 John. Writing about 1 John as I am, right now, I’ve been touched by John’s continued use of love. One verse really touched me as I went through 1 John:

“He who loves his brother remains in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him.”

(1 John 2:10 BOGV)

This verse impressed on me something I knew already, but had forgotten – or hadn’t gotten in my bones yet (as one of the Elders of the Willamette Bible Chapel says) – along the way. It brings to mind the conversation Jesus had about the “Greatest Commandment”. Jesus said the whole of the Old Testament (the Law and Prophets) depends on the love of God and love of our neighbors. In a clarifying parable we see in loving his neighbor the Samaritan took care of a person in need. At Christmas we are told it is better to give than receive and numerous other aphorisms of taking care of those around us.

What is one of the greatest ways we can take care of our neighbors? Taking care of their needs? Yes, of course, but what is, arguably, everyone’s biggest need? Eternal Salvation? So often, we get so caught up in Christmas we forget what makes it important and it’s not Jesus’ birth. (Muslims even believe in the virgin birth (Qur’an 3:47; 66:12) and yet miss the purpose of the miracle.) The importance of Christmas, and the virgin birth, comes from it being the first sign about Jesus.

We should be using it as a means of pointing our friends, family, and neighbors to Jesus, and His work on the cross. Through this we show love for others and are able to show we remain in the light. Keep this in mind through your celebrations this year. Celebrate Jesus, not just for the miraculous conception and birth, but for Him setting us free from sin and condemnation.

Merry Christmas!

I hope you have a blessed and wonderful Christmas and Happy New Year!

Notes and Outlines

OK, everyone, we are planning for the future!

To that end the Believe Something Better Page has been updated! You can now see a little of what we are planning with it. We plan on having the Notes and Outlines (free material we’re providing) up and available for download. This coupled with the BOGV provides a kind of study bible experience. We hope to have these study notes completely available over the course of the next two years. You’ll get to see the page evolve as more content is finished.

We are currently working on the finishing touches to 1 John-Jude, the first volume which will be made available in the Believe Something Better Commentary Series. We are really excited to be getting so close to actually making something available and having fruit for labors.

In this we want to give all the glory to God. We can do nothing through our own strength and only God is the one with the strength who has accomplished this!

Pray for us as we continue to move forward with this goal of finishing the series of commentaries and for volunteers. We are actively seeking volunteers to get involved in the Ministry. If you feel as though you would like to be involved please e-mail us. We are also open to taking donations please e-mail us about this option as well.

Thank you so much!
RB

August 2017 Update

Hey everyone, I want to be better about posting updates here. We’re looking for volunteers currently in a number of places; not just here but also at BOG Ministries. If you would like to get involved in our ministry here, we have a multitude of positions we would love to fill. We are looking at expanding our scope a little bit and we would love your help as we do so.

We are moving forward with so many things. I do plan on having the next episode of the BSB Vidcast/Podcast out this month – most likely very close to the end of the month. I am continuing work on the Believe Something Better Commentary series and I think we are on track for the first volume (though in actuality it looks as though it will be the 55th volume in order of Biblical layout) to be finished by November with subsequent publish in December or January. I am currently finishing up Second John and will be moving on to work on Third John soon. I am rather excited about this whole thing. It always feels good to have some fruit from your labors.

I am hoping to actually put out the eBook of the of the Psalms by RB and I hope to be putting out the second set soon. I enjoy poetry and write it as my mind wanders. I hope you enjoy it too.

All in all, I am hard at work and the BOG team is hard at work. Currently the work for the BOG team is the Gospel of John and after I am finished working on 1 John – Jude I will be putting together a short amount of info to go along with John in order to have an outreach book available. This would be BOG Ministries’ first piece of work in print and we have the same feeling as I stated above, fruits from our labor.

Pray for us as we continue down the road, running the race which is laid before us. We look forward to hearing from any of you who wish to get in touch. Our e-mail lines are always open. Feel free to e-mail us when ever you want!


RB

A Conversation with a Martyr

Download the Story A Conversation with a Martyr here →

OK, that could be a very misleading title!

I want to make it clear I have not personally contacted a martyr for the faith. Rather this is a work of fiction. I have always been – at least when it comes to writing – a fiction writer. I love to write fiction, especially science fiction and fantasy. You in fact can read my fiction online as it is currently being serialized. Well I was sitting in my chair reading Voice of the Martyrs and the Lord smacked me on the head with an idea I just couldn’t shake. Well… I think it was the Lord anyway. As I said I just couldn’t shake it I had a visceral need to write it and finish it.

I thought I’d give you all a chance to read it. I’ve been holding it back as it is different from anything else I’ve ever written. The idea is I’ve been praying to God about being the kind of person who is willing to lay their life down for Him. I’ve never thought I was this person. I want to be this person, but never felt like I had the courage to be. This part is not fiction, this part is absolutely true. I have prayed this question many times in my life. Wondered for many years if a great persecution happened here in the USA would I be the person hiding his beliefs to get by or would I stand up and shout God’s good news from the roof tops?

The story is essentially God giving me an answer. Whether this answer is real or fake, I cannot tell. I’ve pondered it and handed the story to wiser men than I. I have nothing more really to say about the story.

I hope you enjoy it.

Download the Story A Conversation with a Martyr here →

Update – July 2017

Hello everyone, I am just wanting to give a quick update. We’ve been rather sparse this year on the number of updates. I have to admit I have been really busy so far this season and I’ve been rather preoccupied. This does not mean I am doing nothing. We are hoping to bring out the first official volume of the Believe Something Better Commentary Series this Fall/Winter. This Volume will encompass 1 John – Jude. I believe in actual numbers, though being the first one published once everything is said and done it will be the 53rd volume in the series.

I am hoping to move onto James, or 1 & 2 Peter after 1 John – Jude is finished. We will have to wait and see what the Lord provides in this. I am currently reading my NIV Study Bible which my parents gave me years ago.

Don’t forget to connect with us on Facebook, or send us an e-mail. We look forward to hearing from everyone! As always prayer requests are welcome and keep us in your prayers!

Thoughts on Actions – 2017

Well, I’ve been trying over the past several years to write an article for Believe Better Ministries on the subject of Actions. I feel as though I’ve been blocked. I don’t know if I have the words to bring this subject to bare. I’ve prayed over it and still do not feel led to write a full paper on the subject. So, I’m going to give my thoughts and leave it at that. (Quick side note: I think the reason I’ve been stopped from writing is due to it being very, very hard not to become legalistic when putting forth this subject. So I pray for a grace filled message.)

My main thought, when I’ve written things down about actions, is we’re not meant to be stagnant, passive followers, sitting in pews. We are meant for so much more! So many believers think the meeting of the Church involves going to a building, sitting in a pew (or chair), singing some songs, listening to a message, drinking a little grape juice and eating a cracker, giving a little money, and then going home. This is NOT the meeting of the Believers! If this was the way our meetings were to be conducted in this day and age why do I even need to go? Can I not accomplish all of this from my sofa? My couch is way more comfortable to sit in than any pew (or for that matter any chair) I’ve ever sat in in any Church Meeting Hall, I can easily buy grape juice (or wine if I wanted) and crackers, I can listen to KLove or some other Christian music network (heck I could pull it up on Pandora if I wanted), I can watch any of a number of different speakers on TV or listen on radio for a message, I can give money over the phone or straight through the internet, and in the end I’ve accomplished about the same thing.

Are either of these a true form of a meeting of the Church? No! Again, I say no! We are called to service. Our Lord and Savior, Jesus, gave us an example (John 13:12-17). Jesus was among us as a servant and said the greatest in His Church (the believers) would be the one who served (Luke 22:24-27). We are to be ready to act! I like how the ESV translates the first half of Luke 12:35: “Stay dressed for action”! We are to be ready. The type of readiness is the same as a soldier.

The literal translation of the phrase is “gird up your loins”. This girding of the loins was what a soldier would do before putting on his chest plate. He would take a strip of tough cloth and tightly wrap it around his waist preparing himself for action, for combat. This is what the Lord Jesus was saying. Let alone His brother, James, who gave us “faith without works is dead” (James 2:26b) Why? Does this mean we need to follow the legalist? No! It simply means this: You can see the fruit!

As those who follow Christ, we have invited God into our hearts and He is faithful and indwells us. So, since we have the Holy Spirit living in us – conforming us to the image of the Son (see Romans 8), helping us to put off the old self and to put on the new self (see Colossians) – there should be fruit. Now, here is where this topic gets sticky and this is where my words fail me. I would never tell you to judge someone else, lest we forget what the Lord Jesus said about removing the log from our own eye before removing the speck from our brother’s eye.

I am not saying we need to apply these principles to others. I am saying we need to do these ourselves and let the Lord deal with everyone else. Remember this Christian life is all about a relationship with the Almighty. He teaches His children what they need when they need it. You may not see fruit in someone else’s life, but you also don’t know about the rocks their roots have been fighting with.

I think I should leave it at that. We need to be more active in our faith. The things we say we need to do. Having said this I also want to remind you, take this to heart for yourself, don’t push it on others or judge others for what you don’t really know. The lord is working in their lives just as He is in yours and in mine.

Easter Thought – 2017

Well, here, we are in 2017 and standing again before the Lord in worship of His sacrifice for us on the cross. As far as holidays go, Easter really is my favorite. I’m brought to my knees, with tears in my eyes, as I think about how worthless my righteousness is, and yet God thought a relationship with me worth it enough to pay the price to have that relationship. Relationships have been the big-ticket item in my thoughts and Bible stud recently. I recently posted a thought here, and gave a short word on it at the Willamette Bible Chapel, where I spoke on Colossians 1:24–27.

Relationships are important! They are really in a lot of ways, the most important thing. We see this even in the law as the Pharisees ask the Lord Jesus what the greatest commandment was. His responses to this question are both completely relational (Matthew 22:34–40; Mark 12:28–34; Luke 10:25–28). Furthermore, the verse which is singular best known verse in the Bible: John 3:16 gives us a relational statement about why Jesus came to the Earth. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16 KJV) For God so loved the world!

Christianity, for some reason has almost become more like an achievement or badge to wear rather than what it’s supposed to be. Christianity should be more like the relationship status we post on Facebook:

“RB is in a relationship with the Eternal Creator of All — God”

This is what Christianity should be. This is what Easter celebrates. We are celebrating God bridging the gap for us so we can have a relationship with Him. If God hadn’t done this we would only be able to view God as one mighty lawgiver. Instead, however, we get to enjoy the benefits of a personal relationship with the most powerful Being which exist. A Being whose very word says He is love (1 John 4:8).

This is what I am remembering this Easter.

Hope you all have a happy Easter.

New Random Project

Well everyone, I have to admit I have Adult ADHD. I have ADHD for a long time. I learned to cope early on, but one byproduct of ADHD for me is my mind runs at two thousand times faster than other peoples. This also causes me to have almost too many thoughts happening. So, in an attempt to siphon some of those thoughts off I’ve started putting my thoughts down to paper. I’m going to start posting those thoughts to the web (I know scary). Well those thoughts will be being posted in either my personal blog (RB-Wan) or in my new project 21st Century Warrior Monk. The first post is out here and explains pretty well what my goals are for that project. This is part of the Believe Better Ministries only in that I am the author of these posts.

I hope if you go check it out you will enjoy it. If you have any feedback I always enjoy receiving it. Send it to me at RB.May@BelieveBetterMinistries.com.

Thanks So Much!
RB

Review of the CSB

I was graciously given a copy of the new Christian Standard Bible (CSB). I’ve gone through it now and appreciate the translation highly. I’m the sort of person who uses multiple translations in my study of the Word. I had purchased a copy of the HCSB (the previous revision of what is now called the CSB) two years ago, on the reference of a brother. I read through several portions of it immediately and had a thorough appreciation for the translation. I like a little more literal version than the CSB/HCSB, but sometimes I know the literalness obfuscates the matter.

This Is the same reason we have consistently made new translations of the Bible since the original King James Version came out. We need updates to language and contextual understanding. This is the very appreciation I have for the CSB. It has a mediating style between literal (formal equivalence – word-for-word) and idiomatic (dynamic equivalence – thought-for-thought) translation which the translators have called “optimal equivalence”. It allows them to put meanings and/or words on the page which while implied by the Greek would not be part of a literal translation.

This allows the CSB translators to give a clearer translation than some of the literal translations may be able to. As someone who favors literal translations, my first thought is to discount the CSB because of their chosen translation philosophy. However, I ha e been edified time and time again by translation whose philosophy was a balancing between literal and idiomatic. NIV, HCSB, NET, and others have all been used by me to great effect and edification.

I have specifically enjoyed the CSB as a they also chose wording which are different from the traditional. This really makes you think about what you are reading rather than letting verses go by just because you’ve read them a hundred times before. John 3:16 is one of the best examples:

King James Version
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

English Standard Version
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

New International Version
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

Christian Standard Bible
“For God loved the world in this way: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”

You can see even the NIV which isn’t supposed to follow the traditional translation dogma and is supposed to be a completely new translation follows the traditional reading of John 3:16. It is only the CSB (and the HCSB before it) which broke from the tradition and finally did something new.

Finally, I’ll leave you with this thought: Never discount something because it is new. As Christians we are to give every faithful rendering of Scripture a chance. The Lord will bless us for being faithful to His Word.