In the last two weeks, Jake has challenged our entire youth group to read through the New Testament in 30 days. For those who struggle to give God even 5 minutes of their day, this is quite the challenge! However, many students - and leaders - have embraced it and are well on their way to completing the New Testament in a month's time.
I have chosen to read The Message translation this time around. While I'm not a fan of this translation for teaching purposes, it really gives the Bible a fresh taste if you will. The writing is much easier to comprehend, and I think it'd be great for new believers, especially if they're of a young age. I believe it reads at a fourth grade reading level where the NIV reads somewhere in the Senior High category.
Anyway, check out this translation of part of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount. I thought this was fantastic:
25-26"If you decide for God, living a life of God-worship, it follows that you don't fuss about what's on the table at mealtimes or whether the clothes in your closet are in fashion. There is far more to your life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body. Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to him than birds.
27-29"Has anyone by fussing in front of the mirror ever gotten taller by so much as an inch? All this time and money wasted on fashion—do you think it makes that much difference? Instead of looking at the fashions, walk out into the fields and look at the wildflowers. They never primp or shop, but have you ever seen color and design quite like it? The ten best-dressed men and women in the country look shabby alongside them.
30-33"If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don't you think he'll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I'm trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God's giving. People who don't know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don't worry about missing out. You'll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.
34"Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don't get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.
I just love this. Why do I struggle with these things almost day in and day out? True contentment is found in Christ! I get so frustrated when my kids are fussing at me...I can only imagine how God feels when I'm fussing at Him that what I've been given isn't good enough! So this is an area I hope to work on and grow in this New Year. What about you? Do you have some ways you hope to draw nearer to God?