I'm a reader. I thoroughly enjoy reading the newspaper, magazines, a good mystery or action thriller, and the news items that scroll across the bottom of the screen on Fox News and CNN.
I assume you are a reader too. After all, you're reading my column right now.
One of the books that I read every day is the Bible. I have enjoyed reading the Bible ever since I was a child. My mother taught me to do that by her example.
When I was real little I carried around a Children's Bible, and enjoyed the Bible stories that were taught in Sunday School. I remember how the Sunday School teachers would use a flannel graph to help teach those stories and to help them come alive for the students.
When I completed my confirmation classes as a junior high student, I was presented with a gift Bible with my name imprinted on it. That was a Revised Standard Version of the Bible. I still have that Bible on the shelf in my office.
Later on I was given a copy of the Good News For Modern Man, a contemporary version of the New Testament, and I enjoyed spending time reading that.
Then one day in my mid-teens I set the Bible down and spent some years living as a prodigal son. I know that my mother spent many hours praying for me during that period in my life. But I never forgot the teachings of the Bible, even though I tried for a season to run away from it.
Shortly after I turned 20, I came to a crisis point in my life. One morning I picked up a paperback copy of the New Testament and I began reading the words of Christ in the Gospel of Mark. That morning I made a decision to come back to Christ and the teachings of the Bible.
Before the year was out I went off to Bible College to study for the ministry. And I have never regretted that decision.
When I was a Bible College student in California, I studied Greek for several semesters. The original New Testament was written in Greek, and I learned how to use some of the Greek study materials to gain a better understanding of God's Word. I had a great time studying and reading and learning.
That love for Bible study and learning continues today. I don't consider myself a Bible scholar by any means, but I am a Bible lover.
One of my professors was asked one time what the best version of the Bible was to use. His response was, "The one that you read." I've always remembered that..."The one that you read."
Some people say that you have to read one version, and others will tell you that you need to read another. Some people get quite angry if you disagree with them about what version you should read. I wonder what the Bible has to say about that.
I encourage the people in my church to read the Bible. I always preach from the Bible and teach from the Bible and we even hold Bible knowledge quizzes at different times throughout the year. We provide daily devotional guides for the folks in the congregation to assist them in their daily Bible reading and study.
I enjoy reading. I'll probably go and read when I am done writing this column.
For years I have passed on my love for Bible reading to others. I have given many Bibles away to people over the years, in many different versions. And I have passed on those words of wisdom that I learned years ago from my professor: The best version of the Bible to use is the one that you read.
-- Doug Dezotell is pastor of Mount Lebanon United Methodist Church, a former staff writer for the Times-Gazette, a husband, father and grandfather, and a friend to many. Doug may be reached at email@example.com.