Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Pandora Bible

Last year, I was at a conference in Columbia, where I sat beside a pastor from Mauldin, SC. He had his laptop computer opened and it was paying music. I was enjoying listening to the songs with him before the session started, because I recognized some that I had not heard in years. I asked him if he was playing a CD, and he told me he was listening to Pandora internet radio.

I had no idea what Pandora was at the time, so I asked. He told me that it only plays the songs you like. Of course, I couldn’t wait to get home to try it out. I was not disappointed. 

For those of you who are familiar with it, you already know how wonderful it is. However, I want to tell you a bit about what Pandora does. Their website describes it this way. “A new kind of radio, where the stations only play music you like. Just tell us one of your favorite songs or artists and we’ll create a station that explores just that part of the music universe.” When they say that, they mean it.

When you create your free account, you are asked to type in an artist or song you would like to hear. Pandora will play the song and you see a small “thumbs up” and “thumbs down” icon next to the player. If you click on the “thumbs up” Pandora will line up songs that are similar to the one playing. If you click the “thumbs down” Pandora remembers the song and never plays it again.

I have often wished I had the power to make a certain song never be played again. Now I do. I thoroughly enjoy Pandora because it only plays what I like. It’s a great feeling to know that I am in control and that I get to pick what I hear.

Many people try to treat the Bible that way. We love reading and hearing verses like John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. We are comforted by the words of Psalm 23:4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. We are excited by the statement of Jesus in John 14:1-3 Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. 

However, when it comes to certain passages in the Bible, we want to give it a “thumbs down,” and never hear it again. For example, we bristle at the words of Jesus in Matthew 6:14-15 For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. This is actually at the end of the Lord’s Prayer, but we seldom read this part. Why? Because it makes us uncomfortable.

There are many other passages in scripture, both in the Old and New Testaments, that we would rather discard. We cannot simply pick and choose what we will adhere to and obey, although many try. In fact, when Thomas Jefferson wrote his version of the Gospels, he removed all of the miracles of Christ and anything that could be construed as supernatural, because he believed they had been added by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

The Bible is ours as a whole. God intends for us to use it to hear His voice through His inspired Word, as a guide for righteous living, and a comfort in times of need. There is no Pandora radio version of the Bible. We either accept it as God’s Word, or we do not. Read it as a whole, and I’m sure you will find it to be all God intended for it to be in your life.

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17 NIV)