Gents: Feliz Navidad

I was thinking of what I might give each of our Bible Study “gents” for Christmas but realized that I was probably too late. Besides, I don’t like to shop, even on-line, Black Friday is now Old Friday, and none of the men, like me, “need anything.”

Nevertheless, the thought plagued me: What would I give these gentlemen, if I could?

I was reminded that when we lived in a remote village in Papua New Guinea many years ago, Joice would play a game with our daughter Karol, whom she home-schooled. We had an old Montgomery Ward catalogue that all of us liked to look through. Sometimes Joice would give it to Karol, saying “Imagine that I gave you $50 to spend and you can buy whatever you like from the catalogue.” Karol would spend hours, looking at toys, games, clothes and record the prices of those she liked until she came up with her $50 quota. It was fun to see what she wanted—but, of course, didn’t get it. Years later, upon reflection, and in tune with current thinking, we realized that we must have damaged her psychologically in some way. However, she doesn’t think so and has vowed not to report us to Homeland Security, the FBI, or the DaySpring church council. This is somewhat comforting because I am currently on the church council.

I decided to play the catalogue game for some of our gents, or Bible Study men. I wanted to be somewhat spiritual, so I opened my Christian Book catalogue, where its banner claims “Everything Christian for less!” Being a retired missionary, I am always looking for a bargain.

The first thing that caught my eye was the “ESV Illuminated Scripture Journals, 19 Volumes, New Testament” marked down from $99.99 to $54.99, a savings of $45. This seemed the ideal gift for Don (I won’t say which Don) because each page of text had a corresponding blank page opposite so that Don could “engage with and reflect on God’s Word.” Some careful examination, however, told me that this would not do: the type point was 11.75, much too small for the aging eyes of either Don. It did have hand-lettered (rather than by foot or elbow) illustrations and a slip-cased softcover but I would have to find something a little easier on the eyes (and mind).

I wondered who of the men might like “Jesus Calling for Christmas,” which includes (hallelujah!) a “joy filled pack” that is overflowing with gifts for the merry and Christ-centered holiday. There is even “12 festive cards with Scripture from 2 Corinthians 4:6 (I didn’t have time to look it up), a CD with selections from Handel’s Messiah,” as well as a cherry red tote with words engraved on it from John 3.16. A long-term Babptis would like that, I thought, so I put Bill’s name beside the catalogue picture. Bill (and Joe) might also appreciate the NKJV American Patriot’s Bible, but it might be more appropriate to imagine giving it to them on Veteran’s day.

This was fun: imaginary buying. I usually sit next to Bob and we share information on books and Bibles. I had introduced him to the One Hour Bible and he had told me about the One Minute Bible. When I get a minute, I am going to have a look at it. Bob, I thought, would like a study Bible. That choice slowed me down considerably: there were so many versions. Would he like The ESV Reformation Study Bible, 2017, Condensed edition or The NKJV Charles F. Stanley Life Principles Bible, Second Edition? The Reformation Bible was in a “more concise form,” portable and “a perfect solution for the on-the-go believer.” Not many of our Bible Study men can be classified as “on-the-go,” so maybe the Stanley Bible was a better idea. It has 30 life principles, 2,500 life lessons, 43,000 cross references, and an unspecified number of “What the Bible Says” articles and “Answers to Life’s Questions.” I’m going to have to think about his imaginary gift Bible more.

The process has taken more time than I imagined and it wouldn’t be prudent to mention all the men’s names and the choices I came up with. There are so many study Bibles: The KJV Ryrie, The NASB Ryrie, the NKJF Full-Color, the NKJV Jeremiah (not the original prophet, but a later TV one), The NIV Jeremiah, the ESV Jeremiah, the ESV MacArthur, the NASB MacArthur, the NLT Swindoll, the NKJV Wiersbe, and so on (and on).

Well, as someone said, “You can’t have everything—where would you put it?” There was one last person that I had to find a Bible for: our teacher Eric, and fortunately I found just the page of selections for him. There it was, or rather there they were: the NASB Hebrew-Greek Key Word Study Bible, The ESV Hebrew-Greek Stud Bible, The KJV Hebrew-Greek Word Study Bible, Sixth Edition and the “new” New English Translation Bible, Full-Notes edition. I dreamed that I would buy all of them for our teacher.

I can’t go on, but I will mention The ESV Large Print Bible for Jim when he can no longer read the screen on his i-phone. (There is also a “super giant print” edition available.)

I couldn’t quit without doing some imaginary shopping for myself. However, I don’t need a Bible, whether for the study of Greek, Hebrew, or Spanish. Also, I don’t need (yet) the super giant-print, wide-margin, or the NRSV New Oxford Annotated Bible with the Apocrypha. I need something more practical, like The Art of Neighboring or The Search for Significance. Then I found what I thought would be just right: Putting an X Through Anxiety and it was only $1.49. My time had not been wasted. It was a good Christmas day of shopping after all.

Karl Franklin
Christmas 2019