Elizabeth was a Christian

Most importantly for Elizabeth, she was a Christian. She believed in Jesus. She was a follower of Jesus. She read her Bible every day for God’s wisdom in her own life and as a monarch. Here is her prayer request during her first Christmas broadcast as queen: ‘Pray for me … that God may give me wisdom and strength to carry out the solemn promises I shall be making, and that I may faithfully serve Him and you, all the days of my life.”

Service. Romans 12:7, Paul writes of the gift of service: “If it is serving, let him serve….” When she became queen, Elizabeth she made this pledge in her coronation speech: “I have in sincerity pledged myself to your service, as so many of you are pledged to mine. Throughout all my life and with all my heart I shall strive to be worthy of your trust.” Five years before she ascended to the throne she said,  “I declare before you all that my whole life whether it be long or short shall be devoted to your service.”

Joy. “The joy of the Lord is my strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10) Today, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said when he met her that her joy showed from within.

Love. “Now faith, hope and love remain, but the greatest of these is love.” Here is what she said the day after the September 11th attack to Americans, “Grief is the price we pay for love.” On that day she also graciously requested the playing of the USA National Anthem.

Elizabeth now has answered into eternal life. She is temporarily absent from the body but present from the Lord. She has seen Jesus’ smile and her Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant!”

God Save the Queen

I awoke to the news that Queen Elizabeth the Second has been placed under medical supervision because the doctors’ are concerned about her health. Family members are gathering at Balmoral Castle in Scotland. This may or may not be the end of her long life on earth, but it provides for an opportunity for reflection.

I did not often think about the Queen. I noticed when there were major events. I am a proud American, but I have deep respect for Her Majesty (I am using British words and capitalizations out of respect). An American, Samuel F. Smith, wrote “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee,” using the melody that concludes with “God save the Queen” (or King). Instead, verse one concludes with “Let freedom ring!” The last verse is “Great God, our King!”

While I did not think all the time about the Queen, she was like the sun in the sky: always there, discharging her duties with grace and kindness. She had many challenges over the year, starting with becoming Queen at a young age. She gave her first radio speech at the age of 14!

One very indirect connection I had with her was one of the chaplains she had: John Stott (from 1959 until his death; so he began his chaplain duties to her just 7 years after she ascended to the throne). I like to think that he ministered to her in the Name of Christ, sharing the faith, encouraging her to reign in a Christian way–which she has.

I find myself getting uncharacteristically emotional at this news. Perhaps it is because she was close in age to my mother, who died a few years ago. But also, her guiding her beloved country and commonwealth through so many challenges (and prime ministers as well as American presidents!).

God bless the Queen!

How Martin Luther’s Bible Unified the German Language and brought identity to the German People

While under the protection of a German prince in Wittenberg castle, Martin Luther translated the bible into German. At the time, there were variants of the German language. Martin Luther provided a unified language that has been used to this day. Togther with his preaching, Bible commentaries and other writings, Martin Luther influenced and continues to influence many people for the Kingdom of God.

An update on Wycliffe’s Bible from Wikipedia

Wycliffe advocated translation of the Bible into the common vernacular. According to tradition, Wycliffe is said to have completed a translation direct from the Vulgate into Middle English – a version now known as Wycliffe’s Bible. While it is probable that he personally translated the Gospels of MatthewMarkLuke, and John, it is possible he translated the entire New Testament. At any rate, it is assumed that his associates translated the Old Testament. Wycliffe’s Bible appears to have been completed prior to 1384 with additional updated versions being done by Wycliffe’s assistant John Purvey, and others, in 1388 and 1395. More recently, historians of the Wycliffite movement have suggested that Wycliffe had at most, a minor role in the actual translations.”

Bible Translation from the Middle Ages through the Protestant Reformation

In my first Bible translation post I traced translation efforts through Jerome’s Latin “Vulgate” (meaning the common language at the time. That translation was used into the Middle Ages but something very sad happened: people no longer spoke or read Latin; only some priests and other church officials understood it.

Also, the church opposed efforts to translate the Bible into the language of people in various European nations. During the 1300s, John Wycliffe translated the Bible into English. “In the years before his death in 1384 he increasingly argued for Scriptures as the authoritative centre of Christianity, that the claims of the papacy were unhistorical, that monasticism was irredeemably corrupt, and that the moral unworthiness of priests invalidated their office and sacraments” [Wikipedia]

In the early 1500s, William Tyndale translated the Bible into English and was burned at the stake because of that effort and his Reformation views.

Today, the Catholic Church recognizes the value of having the Bible being translated. It has come out with various versions.

The important things for all of us is to “take up and read,” allow the Holy spirit to speak to us through the Bible, and to act on what the Bible teaches as we walk in a relationshiop with Jesus.


Schism is a very serious word. Being called a schismatic is a very serious charge. It means to break away from a group and form a new group. There is a need for unity but only that which is based in sanctity and truth (see Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer in John 17).

Sometimes groups start very well. But they often become man-centered rather than God honoring. So once in a great while schism is justified.

Once such situation is the Protestant Reformation where people like Martin Luther and John Calvin spoke the truth from the Bible. Luther did not want to leave the Roman Catholic Church, but it happened.

In the case of John Calvin, he had left Geneva (he was later invited back) and was happily pastoring French Protestants in the northern city of Strasbourg when a Catholic leader named Sadolet wrote a letter to the Genevan Council trying to get that city to return to Catholicism. The council sent the missive to Calvin who replied.

In his “Reply to Sadolet” Calvin is very persuasive in many ways. He responds to Sadolets charge of being a schismatic.

“As to the charge of forsaking the Church, which they were wont to bring against me, there is nothing of which  my conscience accuses me, unless, indeed, he is to he considered a deserter, who, seeing the soldiers routed and scattered, and abandoning the ranks, raises the leader’s standard, and recalls them to their posts. For thus, O Lord, were all thy servants dispersed, so that they could not, by any possibility, hear the command, but had almost forgotten their leader, and their service, and their military oath. In order to bring them together, when thus scattered, I raised not a foreign standard, but that noble banner of thine whom we must follow, if we would be classed among thy people.”

Since the days of the Reformation and especially since Vatican 2 in the 1960s, Catholics and Protestants who choose to do so have grown closer together without giving up their distinctives. We agree on the confession that “Jesus is Lord.” Much follows from that, including one’s view of the Bible.

Bible Translation: Introduction and Early Translations

Translation of the Bible into the mother tongue of a group of people is second only to the proclamation and application (see Nehemiah 8 for the earliest recorded Bible reading marathon and application of what was read) of the Bible itself.

It has been rightly said that every church is one generation away from extinction because each generation must make the Faith its own. It has also been shown that a group where the Bible is first preached to is one generation from extinction unless the group receives the Bible in an understandable translation of the Bible in its mother tongue.

Do you know what the first known Bible translation took place? It was of the Old Testament but not in the original Hebrew. Instead it was in Greek! In the sovereignty of God, Alexander the Great had conquered south and east of Greece/Macedonia including Egypt.

In the city that bears his name (Alexandria) in what is now Egypt during the third century before Christ 70 or 72 (six for each of the twelve tribes of Israel–Wikipedia) scholars gathered in the middle of the third century before Christ to translate the Bible from Hebrew into Greek. The story goes that each came back with a translation that perfectly matched the others. It came to be called the LXX, the Roman numerals for 70.

(Incidentally the earliest existing full Old Testament or Hebrew Bible hails from the 7th century AD [Wikipedia]. It was provided by a Jewish group called the Masoretes, which led to its being called “The Masoretic Text.”)

The New Testament is in the Koine or market place (what people spoke every day throughout the Roman empire). But before the end of the 4th century AD, most people spoke the language of the Empire, namely Latin. So around that time, Jerome translated the Bible into Latin. It came to be called “The Vulgate,” which simply means “the common tongue,” or what people commonly spoke to each other.

But by the Middle Ages, very few people spoke Latin. There was a great need once again for groups to have the Bible in their mother tongue. What happened next is the subject (Lord willing!) of the next post.

When my third choice turned out to be God’s first choice

Have you ever wondered why sometimes something you think is God’s best does not take place? I have, on occassion.

Here’s the biggest example I have ever experienced. In 1980, my mother planned on taking my two sisters and me to the Moscow Olympics, because of my oldest sister’s attempts to get to the Olympics. Because of the Soviet invasion, our country boycotted those Games.

Ok, second choice was wanting to be part of the solution by going to the Northwest Frontier Province of Pakistan to assist with the refugees. But both a missionary friend and the UN High Commission for refugees.

So, I took my third choice: Director of Summer Evangelism for the Emmanuel Gospel Center in Boston. I coordinated and trained 24 churches for six weeks of outreach.

By God’s grace, I led to the Lord a 12 year old during one of those meetings. Months later I learned that her sister and mom (sitting across the street from the basketball court where the speakers were) had also received Christ and been baptized at Dorchester Baptist Church. That night I also made the call over the objections of one of the workers to have the meeting despite thunderstorms on the radar coming from the west. (The worker later apologized.)

One final note. When I returned to the main campus of my graduate school, someone asked me to go to Pakistan to set up a trip for other students. So I flew there in January of 1981 to make preparations for the FIVE students who would go the following summer. So God multiplied me five-fold on my second become first choice through my obedience to God’s first choice!

There are not always great reversals in this life

In my previous posts I have not wanted to give the impression that God turns around every difficult, challenging situation in this life. Heberws 11 makes that clear.

The writer (whom I believe to be Apollos) starts out in Hebrews 11:32 through the first half of verse 35 by talking about great reversals. But then he writes, “Others were tortured and refused to be released, so that they might gain a better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated.”

The writer then makes an astute observation: “the world was not worthy of” these people.

Apollos makes it clear that everyone in this life is looking for what God has planned for us. Moving to the Gospel of John, Christians have abundant life, even in the midst of persecution. To Matthew 5, where Jesus tells us that we are blessed (twice!) when we are persecuted for righteousness’ sake.

So, even if you do not experience a much for hoped for great reversal please know that God loves you just as much as those who have had such reversals. It is hard. Sometimes crushing.

I have felt that way multiple times in my life, all the way back to when I was 11 years old and my father died. Nothing could bring him back. And yet, God used that 4 years later (to the month?) to sovereignly draw me to Himself and eventually let me know that He is my Heavenly Father who will never leave more forsake me.

I conclude with Hebrews 12:2 and 3, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”