Monday, May 25, 2015

Thou, thee, thy, thine, etc.

We no longer speak the King's English, but many conservative churches still cling to the King James Version of the Bible in their worship services.

I have no personal problem with that, but the people must be given a primer on the Ancient English, seeing that Shakespeare's works are not taught like they were in my day.

There are two major issues in the misuse of the English Language. Modern egalitarian usage does not segregate personal pronouns for persons in different social classes. Today, "you" is used to refer to any person, no matter whether they be family, or royalty. Not so, the King James English!

In the 1600's, the "ye" group was reserved for royalty, and the "thee" group was used for family and familiar persons, and even the disrespected. The KJV Bible lovers feel that the Psalms, in particular, use the "thee" words in reference to God as the language of respect. If anyone deserves deferential language, it would be God, but the Bible writers used the familiar words to designate the familial closeness of the psalm writer to God.

Unfortunately, today's readers have reversed the meaning. People say they like the KJV language because it sounds more dignified and respectful when referring to God!

The second area of misunderstanding of King James English is grammar, particularly the use of pronouns. We all know a pronoun stands in the place of a noun. In English, nouns do not vary depending on how they are used, but pronouns do. Pronouns vary depending on whether they refer to one person (singular), or more than one (plural). They also vary depending on how they are used, i.e., as a subject, an object, or a possessive.

"I" is used for an individual who is referring to him- or herself as the subject of a sentence. "Me" is used when the word is an object, whether a direct object in a sentence, an indirect object (to whom or for whom something is done), or the object of a preposition.

This rule is followed whether or not another person or pronoun is involved. "She and I" ("You and I"), etc., are used only as the subject of a sentence. In other places, "Her and me" ("You and me") are to be used. Say, "They gave it to her and me," not, "They gave it to she and I." "My wife and I want to thank you for showing love to her and me."

Why We Fail - Patterns

In the past few years as the interstate highway system has aged, bridges have collapsed, large chunks of highway materials have been thrown into the paths of unsuspecting following motorists, and other accidents have occurred, resulting in many deaths.

When a study is made (e.g.,, the results often indicate that the catastrophic failure was caused by minor weaknesses called stress fractures.  They actually begin as invisible, microscopic microfractures that are linked to the crystalline structure of the materials at the molecular level.

Small weaknesses left untreated will result in fractures and failures over time.  But the patterns of failure were there all along.

Take a person's character.  We see moral failures all the time.  They are well publicized when the failure occurs in preachers and politicians.  We seem to expect better behavior from them, though their failures are really no worse than our own.

When the highway bridge fails, we trust the DOT has been protecting us by inspecting the highways and bridges, but still, the failures occur. Some failures should have been caught by inspections, but some are beneath the surface and too small for the inspectors to see.

What about us?  Who inspects us?  Who can see beneath the surface?  Who has microscopic and x-ray vision?  The Bible teaches us that we should be on a regular schedule of self examination.

Here are 16 scripture verses with the topic of examining yourself.  

Using the analogy of bridge failures, let me suggest some practical areas in our lives where the microfractures develop, causing a fault line that could result in an earthquake under the right circumstances.

1.  Keeping our word.

  A.  As simple as saying to yourself, "I will do such-and-such tomorrow," but not doing it when the time comes. (Like getting up early, exercising, jogging, etc.)
  B.  Being on time.  If we know when something starts and we have said we will attend, and we are late, we have not kept our word.
  C.  Meaning what we say.  When we carelessly say, "I love you," to someone who is attracted to us and we really aren't willing to make a life-long commitment, we are lying.
  D.  Telling white lies. (As if there were such things.)
  E.  Trying to get out of a contract.  Whether a cell phone contract, a rental contract, or a rent-to-own contract, keeping your word requires fulfilling the terms of the contract, even if something better comes along.
  F.  Trying to save face or win. Repeating "You said such-and-such," when all you really can know (without a recording or a witness) is, "I heard such-and-such."  Repeating "I said," when all you can really support (without a recording) is, "I meant to say," or, "I was trying to say."
  G.  Putting others down (thinking that makes us better than them).
  H.  Not allowing someone to clarify what they meant, by insisting, "You said!" (as if you have never misspoken anything).

The main problem with self-examination is twofold: 1, the examiner is biased and 2. the examiner is ignorant.  Jeremiah 17:9 says "The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?" [NIV]  

The psalmist tells us that God is the one who must search our hearts: Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Psalm 139:23

Multiple times in the Psalms the refrain is repeated:  Teach me your way, Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. Psalm 86:11

The author of the letter to the Hebrews points to the practical way we find our faults, through the study of the Scriptures:
For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.  Hebrews 4:12

Consider the following situation. A person doesn't suddenly decide to break his or her wedding vows.  That happens over time when the micro fractures have developed because of the stresses of ordinary life and have not been repaired and reinforced.  The micro fractures become fractures, and the fractures align and a major system failure occurs.  With regular attention to the Word of God, the Light shines into the darkness, revealing the faults.  By confession and repentance (1 John 1:9), the fractures are mended and reinforced.  Without the self examination with the Word, major system collapse is inevitable.

A person who neglects a contract, even one with him- or herself, is allowing the fractures to develop that will allow a collapse and major failure when the system is severely strained.

Don't let those little things go by unconfessed and unrepented. 

Changing your life results.

Is there something happening to you that you don't like?

How many of us will really accept Jesus' words that we reap what we sow? Can we be honest enough with ourselves to look for seeds that we plant that yield this thing we don't like when they grow to maturity?

Is there something you can change in the cycle?

If you don't change something in you, you are going to keep getting what you have always gotten.

The word "repentance" actually means a change in thinking. When you change your thinking, your actions will also change. When your actions change, your results will change. If you don't change what you do, you will keep getting the same thing you've always had.

Don't look to blame anyone else, or even God, for things that you actually are bringing on yourself. Look for something you can change. Start by looking at your attitudes.

We can't really change what people do to us, but we should be able to change how we respond to what they do. The reason Jesus teaches what are called "be-attitudes" is because our attitudes determine what we can be.

Just like the Army slogan, you goal is for you be all you can be! You want something different? Change your thinking and change what you do.

Many of us suffer from addictions that keep us from my proposed solution of changing your thinking and actions. If you have ever gone through the withdrawal symptoms of doing without something you are addicted to, you will understand. 

In truth, we cannot pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps, we cannot change our minds, we cannot forget our past, we cannot be any different tomorrow than we were, today. We are hopeless, if left to ourselves. The addiction of sin is too powerful for us to overcome! 

What we need is Grace. If God will change me, I will be changed. If God will change me, my history will not determine my destiny. If God will change me, I can do all things. Without God, I have no hope. 

We must rush to God who is offering to blot out our past, and to Jesus, who gives his own perfection in place of our imperfection, and pays the penalty for our sins. We must beg God to pour out his empowering spirit on us. Then, we can change our thinking. Then, we can change our outcome. Then, all things can become new. 

What about you?