Thursday, September 4, 2008

Avoiding boredom

Do you ever feel totally brain-dead when listening to a sermon or reading your Bible, like it has no effect on you?

John Piper suggests praying Psalm 119:7. Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.

Another thing I can suggest is to try another language! I was totally tuning out during a sermon recently and I was realizing that it's because it was in English, and English sometimes sounds like "blahblahblah" to me. In your native language, you can skim books and still get the gist, and also tune out parts of conversations and still know what's being said (not that I would ever do that!).

So when I go to read the Bible sometimes...I know who's going to win and who's going to lose, and I'm not always interested in the journey to get there.

In Russia, I have to pay close attention to sermons and readings, simply because if I miss a few words, I risk missing the point. In another language, it makes a big difference if you miss key words like "not" or "but" or fail to identify the verb tense.

Pretty soon I will probably start tuning out Russian too and will have to find a new language!

Another idea is to simply read a different translation, but that can sometimes be distracting because you might focus too much on the words that are different stylistically but not tied to the main point. Still, I think variation is good.


  1. Лиза, следующим языком, на котором ты будешь читать Библию, должен стать древнегреческий! :)

  2. Like that will help anything...?

    German will be a good lang. to try out. Here, in the US, everyone seems to know a little bit of Spanish (Mexican Spanish that is).

    I tried German on my own back in 1997. I whish I could have stuck to it. By now I could have been spoken it fluently.

    If you can speak German, you will understand a whole host of other lang.

  3. Andrey,

    Why undrestanding the ancient Greek makes any difference to anything?

    It only puffs up the ego of some questionable Christian leaders, but does no good to anything else.

    "I beg your pardon. I speak the ancient Greek. I know God a million times better than you do... I do not have to listen to your baby talk." - almost an actual quote from one Russian pastor/college professor.

  4. Well, in my post I meant any language, but there are plenty of reasons to study Greek. Here's one:

    Also, if a Christian leader has an ego problem, I don't think Greek is the reason!

  5. Виталий, человек существо странное. Ведь мы все можем превратить в повод для гордости. Один будет гордиться тем, что знает греческий, а другой тем, что не знает греческого, как некоторые профессоры "зазнайки".

    Как может помочь греческий язык в служении? Вы же наверняка знаете, какие проблемы возникают порой с синодальным переводом.

    Мартин Лютер писал об изучении библейских языков так: "Да позволено мне будет сказать, что без изучения языков мы не сможем сберечь Евангелие. Языки — это ножны, в которых хранится меч Духа. Они — ларец, в котором переносится это сокровище. Они — сосуд, вмещающий этот напиток. Они — хранилище, где лежит эта пища".

    С уважением, Андрей.

  6. One thing that has "woken me up" amazingly is teaching. Especially teaching children. In thinking about a passage and imagining how to discuss it with children, you have to really get at the core of it. Then, WHILE talking, it is quite amazing how the Holy Spirit will sometimes completely open my mind to a new meaning. Your thoughts about language are probably very apt. Unfortunately, my Russian is too decrepit for understanding enough to get the meaning. I'm so sad about that.

  7. When I wrote this post I guess I didn't really think about how hard it is to actually be able to read literature in another language. If I didn't live in another country, I probably wouldn't be able to read anything for pleasure in a foreign language, although I might be able to struggle along in Latin. But having someone guide you through the Bible in another language is just as interesting, in the form of reading a commentary or the pastor doing it in a sermon. But maybe that's just personal taste.

    Thanks for mentioning children! You're right, teaching definitely opens your eyes and challenges you to make sure you know what you're talking about...and that you're modeling it!

  8. Andrey said:

    "Как может помочь греческий язык в служении? Вы же наверняка знаете, какие проблемы возникают порой с синодальным переводом."

    Actually, I do not. I have never had any problems with the old Russian translation of the Bible. I mean, it does sound somewhat fruity and what not but I think it presents the Gospel very clearly.

  9. Vitali, you must be the exception. It is my understanding that the Synodal translation in many cases is neither clear nor accurate. I'm not saying that it is the worst translation, but to say that there are "no problems" is not entirely correct either.


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