How Anchor Points Meditations Are Composed

How are Anchor Points meditations put together?  Although each meditation is composed with much prayer and great care to preserve the meaning of the verse, most will not be verbatim renderings from one of the accepted translations.  The reason for that is that each selected scripture has been set into a strict four line (four beats per line) metered format. Not every scripture naturally fits into that structure.  Interestingly, there are precedents for similar structural constraints found both in the original language of the book of Proverbs and many of the Psalms, as well as in the liturgies of church throughout the history of Christendom. 

Anchor Points verses are not intended to supplant any formal translation.  Our intent is to make the scriptures as accessible as possible while remaining faithful to the original meaning.  In an effort to bring the truth of God’s word to life in a fresh and impacting manner, Anchor Points will not always be a word for word rendering of the chosen verse in any widely accepted translation.  The verses presented here are meditations and not verbatim quotes.  For this reason we often refer to the Anchor Points scriptures as meditations, even when referring to them in a discussion on memorization. 

We find many examples of this same approach throughout the rich musical and liturgical history of the church.  Not all God-glorifying musical compositions employ word for word transcriptions from the verses they reference.  The hymn ‘Great Is Thy Faithfulness’ is a good example.  Looking at the lyrics (written by Thomas O. Chisholm), we find them to be densely packed with scriptural references. 

Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father,
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not;
As Thou hast been, Thou forever wilt be.

Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed, Thy hand hath provided;
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me!

Here we find references to Lamentations 3:22-23, James 1:17, Hebrews 13:8 in the first verse and chorus alone!  Each reference is masterfully crafted with the others to convey the clearly scriptural message, and yet most are not exact textual borrowings.  This beloved hymn is a powerful combination of Biblical truth married with poetic presentation in a beautiful musical setting.  It has been sung by millions of people over the years but I am not aware of anyone criticizing it for not faithfully adhering to a word for word reproduction of each scriptural reference.       

Similarly we find many songs of the church today that carry a clear Biblical message drawn from specific passages or verses that do not adhere to a strict verbatim textual integrity.  Consider this well-known work by Chris Tomlin, “How Great is our God.”  Here’s the second verse:

Age to age He stands
And time is in His hands,
Beginning and the end
Beginning and the end
The Godhead three in One
Father, Spirit, Son
The Lion and the Lamb
The Lion and the Lamb

Again, this passage is packed with scriptural truths (at least 5 by my count) and yet not one of them is an exact word for word copy from its scriptural source.  In fact the last line referring to the Lion and the Lamb, is not even found on the pages of scripture!  Look it up.  Of course, this well used phrase is consistent with the Biblical picture we find in Isaiah 11:6, but the actual wording is ‘the wolf also shall dwell with the lamb’ (KJV).  My point here is this: powerful Biblical truths can be conveyed without a slavish adherence to the original language.  In fact, as I believe the above examples demonstrate, the looser presentation in the right setting can be extremely effective in bringing these truths to life. 

Likewise, in much the same manner, the text of an Anchor Points meditation may not always be lifted from the pages of scripture in the exact wording you would find in a particular translation.  However, the meaning is preserved and may even be more clear to someone who never fully understood the text, before hearing it as presented.

There are basically 3 different approaches that have been used in composing these meditations.  The first approach would be to use a word for word rendering of the scripture from one particular existing translation.  There are a significant number of meditations that fall into this category.  These may include some verses where minor changes have been made such as adding a personal pronoun to personalize the verse.

The second and by far the most widely utilized approach is what I would call a composite composition.  This method employs two or more formal translations to construct the meditation.  With all the available translations, the rich variation of biblical language accessible to today’s bible student provides a veritable storehouse of color and texture in presenting the word of God.  Anchor Points makes full use of this immensely expressive palette.  Within the stable of respected translations, you will find many differences in their choice of words.  Anchor Points makes its own word choices based on the following principles: does it have scriptural integrity? Does it have clarity? Does it connect or speak their language?  Is it easily retained? and does it grab you?

The increased flexibility that this approach provides, makes it possible to present Biblical truths in a form that is easy to grasp and retain while remaining true to the original meaning.  But don’t take my word for it.  If you haven’t tried Anchor Points, now might be a good time to do it.  There are sampled verses on our home page and we will be adding new scriptures as we go. 

The third approach in composing Anchor Points meditations I would call the lyrical paraphrase.  This version is designed to deliver the scripture in a fresh way that allows the listener to consider the verse from a wholly different perspective.  As seen in the two songs discussed earlier, many Christian artists and writers use this approach, building a song around one passage or Biblical truth to shine a light on that truth from a different vantage point.  There is no limit to the depth of the multi-faceted Word of God.  The lyrical paraphrase can take full advantage of poetic and musical devices that bring scripture to life for the casual reader who might otherwise pass it by.

Let’s return for a moment to the above reference from the Chris Tomlin song.  The phrase ‘lion and lamb’ is so embedded in our cultural consciousness that most people will fight you tooth and nail when you tell them that phrase is nowhere found in the Bible.  I believe there are several reasons that this image is so embedded in our cultural memory.  One reason is we have all seen numerous artistic reproductions of a stately lion and a helpless little lamb lying together in a pastoral scene, the very essence of millennial peace and security.  As an artistic representation, this says ‘peace and security’ much more poignantly than a wolf and a lamb.  To most of us, a wolf is seen as a much seamier creature.  And so the lion replaces the wolf and the image becomes popularized visually. 

Additionally, we’ve all heard ‘lamb and lion’ references in sermons and there are even effective ministries operating under that name.  Another powerful reason this phrase is so commonly used is that it incorporates a poetic technique known as alliteration.  Alliteration uses the same letter to begin two or more words in a phrase.  ‘Lamb and lion’ is so easily remembered because it ‘sticks’ in our minds.  (Please note, this is not a criticism of any person of ministry that uses this phrase, on the contrary I believe it is an effective image).  This is a great example of what we are striving to do with Anchor Points to help people retain these verses.  Using alliteration, rhyme, a regular beat or meter and other musical and poetic devices, we hope to offer the truths of the Word of God in ways that ‘stick.’ 

So there you have an overview of what Anchor Points is and what it strives to accomplish.  We will deal more thoroughly with both the Memorization limb and the Meditation limb in a further installment on this web site.  Thank you for your interest in the Word of God.  I hope and pray that you along with many others might gain a more intimate knowledge of our Lord Jesus, the Living Word, through any level of participation you might invest here with Anchor Points.  If we are able to assist believers in holding on to even one more verse than they had before in the storehouse of their heart, then we will have been successful.