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As I write this, we have been reading the Book of Luke. I thought it might interest some of you, to see what it was like, if you were a protestant of means, able to afford one of those new fangled things called a printed Bible. Some people refer the the King James Bible, as the authorized version. It was an authorized version, authorized by the King, and the translation was completed in 1611. This authorization was for the Church of England. While the Church of England was not Roman Catholic, neither was it properly protestant church. The King James Version, was commissioned, in part, to counteract the Bible popular with protestants, to help make it easier to maintain the religious hierarchy of the Church of England. The protestants were too critical of the Church of England for the Kinds tastes, so a new version was commissioned for use in the churches of the Church of England. Basically, the Church of England, was protesting the protestants. While the KJV is an "authorized version" it was the third authorize version. Prior to it, was the Bishops Bible, of 1568, and before that, was the Great Bible, of 1535. The King James version, as was said, is AN authorized version. It was not given the title of "The Authorized Version", until 1814. Lest you get the impression, that I am anti King James Version, I am not. I love the King James Version, and it has been EXTREMELY important in church history. It is a good version. There was a faction of the Church of England, known as the Puritans. They were not called the Puritans, because they were so pure and holy, though that is how many have come to think of that term. The Puritans, were about purging or purefying the church, not just of the abuses of the Roman Catholic Church, but also from issues of having a church, run by a monarch. The Puritans believed that the Church of England, was still too "Catholic" in it's operation. The puritans believed in the priesthood of all believers, not an appointed caste of Popes and Bishops and the like. This did not earn them the admiration of Kings and Popes, so they were persecuted and exiled. They were protestants, in most senses of the word. The Bible of choice, among the Puritans, was the Geneva Bible. The Geneva Bible, was the first Bible to have chapter and verse numbers, and it was translated in 1560. It was carried on the Mayflower to America, and it was the most popular English Bible, during the period of the Protestant Reformation. Why this abbreviated history lesson on early English Bible versions? I wanted you to see how easy you have it. Bibles were not often in the hands of common people. The belief of the reformers, that the Bible should be available to all, and the invention of the printing press, was the beginning of the process that lead to mass Bible access. If you were a well off Protestant, over 400 years ago, what would you have seen? Here is page of a Bible (the Geneva Bible), that was printed in English, before the King James Version.
I have observed quite a number of developing trends in our churches that beg the frightening question of who we are worshiping. Common among those trends are the tendency of persons to spend more time on their cell phones than they do in worship and the tendency to 'make an entrance' when entering the sanctuary. I can't help but ask myself - What kind of message are we sending to the world as Christians? I'll begin this discussion with an understanding of the word 'worship'. Worship is derived from the Old English word 'Woerthship' which means to give worth to something. So when we worship God, we give worth to Him. Sadly, it appears that the saints are giving worth to other things in the house of the Lord. Here I will identify two obvious reasons that are rather disturbing to fathom but as it is a reality within the churches I will make mention of them today. The 'cellphone syndrome' We all need to communicate with others over the phone for different reasons. But I find it very disrespectful for the saints to perpetually excuse themselves from the sermon to be on the outside messaging and talking for an extensive period. Not that it is anybody's business to know the nature of these conversations, but when it happens more often than not I'm afraid that we are sending the wrong message to our unsaved visitors. Do we not show reverence to the Lord anymore? I especially observe this trend among our young people of which group I am a part. I fail to believe that our young people use their discretion for they excuse themselves in large numbers at once. It appears that the cellphones get the 'worth' that should have been given to God and therefore it automatically becomes the god that is worshiped. Our God has feelings too. I am more concerned about His feelings than I am with the reputation of the church. For many saints, the time spent in the house of the Lord is the longest and sometimes only time spent with God. If the latter is the case then all the more reason why He deserves our undivided attention. Let's face it, three hours of prayer and worship is the least we can give to God considering all that He does for us on a daily basis. The church needs to be careful not to provoke the Holy Spirit and not to send the wrong message to those who are lost and in need of our guidance. The problem with 'making an entrance' By now many of us would have realized that persons go to church for different reasons; to spectate, to see friends, to wear a nice suit and a few to seek God. There are many other reasons but these are the few I could think of today. Having said that, there are many within the church who perpetually make an entrance under the influence of a 'disruptive spirit' I suppose. This trend may not be very evident in the larger churches, but as my church is small the trend is becoming more noticeable. Saints are not only expected to be present for sermons but are expected to be there on time. It is very distasteful when visitors arrive in the sanctuary before the members do and to make matters worse, our visitors are distracted each time someone walks through the aisle to take a seat. What about respecting the time of the Holy Spirit? I understand that anyone can be late but when the same persons have heads spinning each week, their actions shift from just being late to 'making an entrance'. Leaders are often times included and I don't just mean Pastors, Bishops, Deacons etc. I mean any person within the church body who demonstrates his leadership abilities in even the smallest possible way. Why are persons making an entrance? It is certainly not because of a desire to be noticed by God but rather 'god', who is seated somewhere in the sanctuary. This is one of the reasons why it is increasingly harder to convince an unsaved or even a backslider to return to God. These groups of persons are understandably confused by the double standards that exist within the church. No wonder there is a growing number of non-denominational Christians in our societies today. The church has a voice and we want to be heard, but let us consider addressing some of the ongoing issues among ourselves before we advocate for modesty and decency anywhere else. These are two growing trends that I have observed in church. Have you observed any other?