1, 2 & 3 John Is Ready for Download

1, 2 & 3 John CoverIf you want to judge a book by it’s cover, I think you will find the latest addition to the Scarlet Letter Bible’s New Testament downloads takes the prize, hands down.

In the two months since the release of Mark’s Gospel, Apple released iBooks Author, which as far as I’m concerned, changed the whole picture for digital book publishing. If you have an iPad, the new format is a real treat. The PDF and old iBook formats are also a lot slicker, thanks to the new editing software.

The text itself is the scarlet rendition of 1, 2 & 3 John, as found scattered throughout posts on the Scarlet Letter Bible over the last 4 months.

Pick your format from the downloads page.

Enjoy!

It’s Not Just Business. It’s Personal.

handshake
Photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/sahajameditation/4625408407/">Sahajah Meditation</a>

3 John 13-15

I could write a lot more, but rather than write, I’m hoping to visit soon. Then we’ll talk.

Be at peace. Your friends here all say hello. Tell our friends there, we say hello, too.

Personal contact is much better for sorting things out. Whether it’s church, business, or family. The more personal, the better. Personal customer service is better than an email. A personal invitation is more likely to get a response than a form letter. A handwritten thank you note communicates more of your gratitude than an e-card.

It’s always been true. But it’s even more true in a digital age where everything is automated. It’s easy to phone just about anything in. But when you take the time and effort to do something in person, it stands out. Because it’s you, not a machine. It’s your time, not someone else’s that you paid to handle it.

You can write a lot. Better to say it in person, when you can. When it really counts.

Who Are Your Real Friends?

four girls together
Photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/playingwithpsp/577959154/">Renee</a>

3 John 9-12

I’ve written a letter to your gathering already, but Dio – that self-promoter – refuses to share it. So, if I come, I’ll bring it up in person. I’ll refute his baseless accusations against us, and point out how not only does he refuse to be hospitable to our friends, but even black-balls anyone else who does. Dear friend, don’t follow his bad example. Do what’s right. Like Demetrius, for example. Everyone loves him. He’s true blue. We vouch for him, too, and you know our word is good.

From early on, welcome and hospitality were one of the defining marks of Christian practice. But early on, the right to say who’s in and who’s out also became a defining part of Christian communities.

Today it’s no different. Lots of churches will tell you that their defining characteristic is how “friendly and welcoming” they are. And in many cases, that welcome and friendliness is still reserved just for insiders, and it’s still easy to find communities in which you’ll never feel really welcome until you have the approval of one or two key people.

While this is typical church behavior, this is another one of those dynamics that isn’t exclusive to church. Social clubs black-ball people all the time, on the basis of all kinds of things: income, race, personal preferences of a few. Businesses, families, little league teams, schoolyards – none of these is exempt.

So, think about what are really the criteria for welcome in your community? Whose approval do you really need to be a part of the in crowd?

What if you, like the writer of this letter were to bring it up in person? Who, like Demetrius, would remain true blue?

Those people are your real friends.

Are You a Supporter?

three hands together
Photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/nicmcphee/291488094/">Nic McPhee</a>

3 John 1-8

A letter from “The Old One” to Guy. Love you, man!

Dear friend, I hope it’s all good with you, that you’re in good health and in good spirit. I was so glad when some of our friends arrived here and told us about how committed you are to what’s true, and how you walk the talk. Nothing makes me happier than to hear that my “kids” are doing right.

Dear friend, you are committed to doing whatever needs done for members of our community, even when to you they are still strangers to you personally. They’ve told us, the whole gathering of us, how loving you’ve been. You send them off in style, as God would have it. They began their trip for the cause of Jesus, without any heathen support. It’s up to us to support them, so they can work for truth.

Grant writers will tell you that one of the essential things funders look for in grant applications is whether there is significant support for the program within the community that is making the application. It’s an indication of the level of commitment among those who will be involved. And the commitment of those involved is generally a prerequisite for success.

More than half of this short “Third Letter of John” (the heading says only “from the Elder”) is about commitment. It’s about living what you believe, and it’s about supporting the community that is engaged in work you believe in. Often translated “fellowship,” it’s more than just a handshake after church. It’s engagement in a cooperative venture that’s doing right and running true.

It doesn’t really make any difference if your venture is a church, a grass-roots community initiative, a service organization, or a business. The same two questions apply:

  1. Is it doing right?
  2. Are you fully committed?

If you can really, honestly, truly, in your heart of hearts answer both of those in the affirmative, everything else is icing on the cake.

[Bonus: You might legitimately ask these same two questions of any person or organization that’s asking for your support (your donation, your time, your membership). It works both ways.]