In fact NIV is a version I rarely use. My preference in sermon preparation is the NRSV or the New Living, which is a completely different animal from the very culturally-bound Living Bible of the sixties. I rarely use the King James (Authorised Version), because it contains a number of errors and omissions, being derived in 1611 from ancient manuscripts which have been superseded by others which are older and more numerous. The KJV is a beautiful piece of seventeenth century English, and its poetry is part of our Western heritage, but for me it is too burdened with words we no longer use to be useful to me as Scripture. That said, I often follow Gordon Fee's advice, in searching through and comparing a range of different translations, in order to get a feel for a challenging passage; he says the translators have all grappled with the same Greek or Hebrew text, so it is worth noticing the variance in the conclusions they have drawn.. And I also have some verses of KJV which I committed to memory in my childhood, when there was nothing else to use, and they still tend to resurface that way, eg Be Still and know that I am God, which apparently in Hebrew means something banal like 'stop fighting!'
But I am appalled to read the vociferous debates that are carried on between advocates and opponents of the KJV-only position. The former claim that the Holy Spirit reinspired the translators in 1611, so that the English words we have are superior (and infallibly God's Word ) to any other translation. If that is the case, I feel sorry for the apostles, who not only had no KJV, they had no written Christian scriptures at all! If some lobbyists are to be believed, they and anyone else who does not use the KJV were "servants of Satan." (see point 7 of this article). Radical Baptist pastor and KJV-only adherent Steven Anderson can even be seen burning an NIV on YouTube. I find this extremism ugly and embarrassing. The Bible is a unique means of God communicating with the people he loves, but it is not to be worshipped for itself; the true Word is the one revealed in the Scriptures, Jesus Christ. He is the one who redeems us, not the King James version. At a recent Wycliffe seminar the presenter said, "Perhaps it is more of a Satanic plot to get people squabbling about which Bible to use, and have them set on a dated English version which is hard to understand today." In that vein, I see the recently-publicised Conservapedia project - an attempt to rid the Bible of references to the social justice ministry of Jesus - as deeply misguided.
One final point. I am a teacher by gifting and experience. When I read the Bible devotionally, it is sometimes hard to resist the temptation to divide the passage into a three point sermon I could preach to others. For this reason, I often turn to The Message version, not a translation at all but a twentieth century paraphrase, but one written by a man who walks humbly with God and is steeped in the Biblical languages. Some would say its not Scripture, but God has spoken to me out of The Message on many occasions, and for that I am deeply grateful. God is bigger than all our human attempts to box him in, and although at times I struggle with the godshapedlife, by his grace, his Word is never Greek to me.
To Chew Over: Why did you choose the English translation you use? Do ever look at any others? Do you think there may be some value in doing so?
Speak Lord in the stillness, While I wait on Thee;
Hushed my heart to listen In expectancy.
Speak, O blessed Master, In this quiet hour;
Let me see Thy face, Lord, Feel Thy touch of power.
For the words Thou speakest,"They are life, indeed;
Living bread from heaven, Now my spirit feed."