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Why I Read the Message Instead of the Bible

I’m a good Methodist girl, raised in the church. I was baptized, confirmed and became a member of the body of Christ. There were a few passages in the Bible I memorized. Overall, the Bible didn’t move me much. It had become boring, rote and verses were used to condemn a person more often than I liked. The language in the Bible was frankly, too hard to follow.

In 2002 I found, in Sam’s Club, a book called The Message by Eugene Peterson. Reverend Peterson has been preaching the Bible for over 40 years. He started out as a teacher of the biblical languages Greek and Hebrew in a seminary. He then switched fields and was challenged by God to teach and share the Bible so people really listened.

Reverend Peterson read the Bible in the original Greek and translated the joy of the Bible into an everyday, usable language his congregation could get excited about. In 1990 an editor asked him to translate the Bible and ten years of work resulted in The Message.

Here’s some of my favorite Bible verses (NIV) and the corresponding The Message verses.

Proverbs 3:5-6
5Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.

The Message:
Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
don’t try to figure out everything on your own.

Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
he’s the one who will keep you on track.

Matt. 19:26
Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

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The Message:
26Jesus looked hard at them and said, “No chance at all if you think you can pull it off yourself. Every chance in the world if you trust God to do it.”

Matt. 7:7-11

7Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. 9 Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!The Message:
7-11″Don’t bargain with God. Be direct. Ask for what you need.
This isn’t a cat-and-mouse, hide-and-seek game we’re in. If your child asks for bread, do you trick him with sawdust? If he asks for fish, do you scare him with a live snake on his plate? As bad as you are, you wouldn’t think of such a thing. You’re at least decent to your own children. So don’t you think the God who conceived you in love will be even better?

Philippians 4:13
I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

The Message:
I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.

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“Scripture taken from The Message. Copyright � 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.”
* Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. NIV®. Copyright©1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.