this went thru my mind

Bible translation: The King James Version celebrates its 400th year of existence this year (1611-2011). The story of how that translation came about is one worth retelling again and again. Leland Ryken does a fine job of doing just that in his recent, brief article in the Wall Street Journal entitled How We Got the Best-Selling Book of All Time.

While we’re talking about Bible translation, one of my “heroes” died this week and he was a fellow native of Oklahoma: Eugene Nida. Many of you reading this will think to yourself “I’ve never heard that name before.” Let me just say, if you can readily read and understand virtually any modern English Bible translation today, you have Nida to thank for much of that privilege. His dynamic-equivalence theory of translation (aka: formal equivalence) literally revolutionized Bible translation work across the world, not just here in the U.S. and not merely directly through the Today’s English Version (aka: TEV; Good News Translation) and CEV (Contemporary English Version). Happening across some of his work while I was just starting out in preaching school, I came to devour several volumes in his Translator’s Handbook series (such as this one on John’s Gospel), something that would help me immensely later in graduate studies. I had still rather read the Proverbs in the Good News or CEV than any translation out there. Words simply fail me as I attempt to convey how much encouragement I have received through the years from this man’s work. Rest in peace, Eugene Albert Nida.

Bible translators have to make some tough decisions sometimes as to the Biblical text. Bobby Valentine’s piece entitled J.W. McGarvey’s Evolving Relationship with Mark 16:9-20 not only illustrates the development and growth in understanding in the mind of the leading scholar in our heritage from over a century ago on a very well-known passage among us, but also speaks to other matters of consequence as well. Fascinating.

American culture. So let me get this straight: the South is the most “churched” portion of the U.S., but it is also the segment with the highest divorce rate. Hmmm. You can read something about such in the news here, but take the time to peruse the report the news is based on here. Note the chart on page three of this report and you’ll be able to see the divorce rate of all fifty states. Which state now leads the U.S. in divorce? Arkansas (26.4%; over 1 in 4). What about Texas? Not much better (21.5%; over 1 in 5). Which portion of the country has the lowest divorce rate? The Northeast (Maine – 13.1%; Massachusetts – 15.8%; New Jersey – 14.8%; etc.). The South can’t begin to compare (Alabama – 20.2%; Georgia – 22:1%; Louisiana – 20.6%; etc.). Think about it.

Discipleship: If you click on no other link today here, watch this seven minute video excerpt of Francis Chan speaking at Catalyst East 2010 about what it means to think Biblically and truly live with commitment to Christ. You will be challenged and blessed. “What if you heard about the way we do church now fifty years from now, and that’s stuck in these pages [of the Bible]?” “What is ‘weird’?” “I want my life to fit in this book one day.” Wow.

Fauna & flora of the Bible: I get a kick out of quality photography. Since I first read the Bible, I’ve had an interest in the references to nature in Scripture (as did Solomon, I might add). And perhaps its because my name is “David” that I pay a little closer attention to the words of King David than I do others. Tie those three interests of mine together, bearing in mind King David’s having grown up working closely with nature, as a shepherd, and what comes to your mind? One that comes to my mind is David’s statement to the prophet Nathan: “Look! I’m living in a cedar palace, but God’s chest is housed in a tent!” (2 Samuel 7:1-3) And that’s surely why this brief post and couple of pics on “the cedars of Lebanon” caught my attention. If you enjoy trees, you’ll enjoy this.

Spiritual growth & maturity: Joe McKeever’s post entitled 10 Ways to Know You’re Getting It Right came at just the right time this week. It not only fits like a hand in a glove with my sermon tomorrow morning, but goes extremely well with our upcoming study of the letter of James.

minister

NOTE: Following is a copy of the discussion guide that will be used in MoSt Church’s LIFE groups tomorrow (Sun., Aug. 28). This guide flows out of the sermon that I’ll preach that morning, part three of the four-part SBMT sermon series. You’ll find these LIFE group discussion guides categorized each week here on my site under the category title LIFE group guides.

Aim

An exploration of some of what it means to “minister” to the Lord, that is, to serve him by doing his will.

Scripture

• “You will keep my rules and do them; I am the LORD, who makes you holy.” (Leviticus 20:8)

• “Taste and see how good the LORD is! The one who takes refuge in him is truly happy!” (Psalm 34:8a)

• “The ways of some people are twisted and strange, but the behavior of those who do right is pure.” (Proverbs 21:8)

• They should be ashamed of their detestable practices, but they have no shame; they don’t even blush! (Jeremiah 6:15)

• “Be careful that you don’t practice your religion in front of people to draw their attention. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:1)

• “Happy rather are those who hear God’s word and put it into practice.” (Luke 11:28)

• “Since you know these things, you will be happy if you do them.” (John 13:17)

• “Practice these things: whatever you learned, received, heard, or saw in us.” (Philippians 4:9)

• “Practice these things, and live by them so that your progress will be visible to all. Focus on working on your own development and on what you teach.” (1 Timothy 4:15-16a)

• “Everyone who lives on milk is not used to the word of righteousness, because they are babies. But solid food is for the mature, whose senses are trained by practice to distinguish between good and evil.” (Hebrews 5:13-14)

• “… those who study the perfect law, the law of freedom … continue to do it … [don’t] forget [it], [and] put it into practice in their lives … will be blessed in whatever they do.” (James 1:25)

•“Whoever practices what is good belongs to God. Whoever practices what is bad has not seen God.” (3 John 11)

Open

Icebreaker questions are intended to simply get us all talking. Choose one of the following to discuss as a group.

1. Do you read the instructions first or do you just start using something?

2. Name one of the toughest things you’ve had to learn by doing without the benefit of instruction.

Dig

These questions are meant to help us grapple directly with some of the sermon’s Scripture texts.

1. What reasons do you see in the Scriptures listed above to put God’s words into practice?

2. What benefits do you perceive promised in the preceding verses to those who do God’s will?

3. What warnings are mentioned in the texts we’ve looked at as to failing to serve God with your life?

Reflect

These questions facilitate our sharing what we sense God’s Spirit is doing with us through his word.

1. How is the tie between faith and works akin to asking, “Which comes first, the chicken or the egg?”

2. As a group, brainstorm a list of good things that happen when we practice the will of God.

3. What would you say are some of the essential ingredients to starting a new habit in life?

4. Which helps you most in breaking a cycle of bad behavior in life: the words or the ways of others?

5. Which trips you up most often in the doing of good: forgetfulness, defiance, or selfishness? Why?

6. For you, the best reinforcement toward serving God with behavior that pleases him is ____________.

7. A friend requests your counsel on turning from a sin to a godly behavior. What do you tell them?