At least once in your life you should read the Bible all the way through because it does not say what you expect it to say, no matter what you expect it to say.
Here is the translation of the Bible you want to read: The Message. This new street-wise paraphrase is looser than a translation and so irks purists. But it is storming Christian campuses and youth groups with its boldness, readability, and strong vernacular. Translated by one amazing guy, it’s as far from old King James as one can imagine. For those who find the Bible warmed-over old news, The Message is like reading it for the first time.
The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language
By Eugene H. Peterson
Available in various editions, among them: Small paperback, New Testement only, least expensive and a good start. Old and New in unorthodox design, The Message Remix, aimed at the MTV crowd. The one I would recommend is the full Bible in hardcover:
Also available as an audio book in several formats
MP3 CD, 78 hours
Available from Oasis Audio
First this: God created the Heavens and Earth — all you see, all you don’t see. Earth was a soup of nothingness, a bottomless emptiness, an inky blackness. God’s Spirit brooded like a bird above the watery abyss.
Song of Songs 3
Restless in bed and sleepless through the night, I longed for my lover.
I wanted him desperately. His absence was painful.
So I got up, went out and roved the city, hunting through streets and down alleys.
I wanted my lover in the worst way!
I looked high and low, and didn’t find him.
And then the night watchmen found me as they patrolled the darkened city.
“Have you seen my dear lost love?” I asked.
No sooner had I left them than I found him, found my dear lost love.
I threw my arms around him and held him tight, wouldn’t let him go until I had him home again, safe at home beside the fire.
Oh, let me warn you, sisters in Jerusalem, by the gazelles, yes, by all the wild deer:
Don’t excite love, don’t stir it up, until the time is ripe — and you’re ready.
Don’t hoard treasure down here where it gets eaten by moths and corroded by rust or — worse! — stolen by burglars. Stockpile treasure in heaven, where it’s safe from moth and rust and burglars. It’s obvious, isn’t it? The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being.
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.
If God gives 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. 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.