Category: Guest Author

The Happy People

By Franklin L. Kirksey, Pastor, First Baptist Church of Spanish Fort, Alabama, and author of Sound Biblical Preaching: Giving the Bible a Voice.

These expositions by Dr. Kirksey are offered to suggest sermon or Bible study ideas for pastors and other church leaders, both from the exposition and from the illustrative material, or simply for personal devotion.

Psalm 144:1-15


Introduction

The happy people understand things others wish they knew.  It is amazing to note the number of articles, books, movies, and songs about happiness.  I have a suspicion that deep down inside everyone wants to know the secret of happiness.

Dr. Jerry Bridges explains in his book titled, The Fruitful Life: the overflow of God’s love through you, “Kindness and goodness are so closely related that they are often used interchangeably. . . .  Kindness is a sincere desire for the happiness of others; goodness is the activity calculated to advance that happiness.”[1]

Dr. J. C. (John Charles) Ryle (1816-1900) shares, “An atheist was once addressing a crowd of people in the open air.  He was trying to persuade them that there was no God and no devil, no heaven, and no hell, no resurrection, no judgment, and no life to come.  He advised them to throw away their Bibles, and not to pay attention to what preachers said.  He recommended them to think as he did, and to be like him.  He talked boldly.  The crowd listened eagerly.  It was ‘the blind leading the blind.’  Both were falling into the pit (Matthew 15:14).

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Group Activity

By Walker Moore

Walker Moore founded AweStar Ministries, a missions organization that has put thousands of teens on fields ‘white unto harvest’ around the world.


I just finished a book entitled Men are like Waffles—Women are like Spaghetti by Bill and Pam Farrel. The authors try to explain the differences between men and women and the ways they approach life. I thoroughly agree with their statement that men think in little squares. When I’m in my work square, all I think about is work. When I’m in my TV-watching square, the house could burn down around me and I wouldn’t notice.

If you look at a waffle, you’ll notice there are no doors to connect the squares. Men have trouble thinking about more than one thing at a time. Since women are like spaghetti, every physical, mental, spiritual or emotional aspect of their lives interacts with everything else. A woman can be mad at the cat and by the time her husband comes home from work, she’s mad at him, too—even if he did nothing wrong.  And of course there’s always one leftover emotion at the end of the day with nowhere to go. I’ll find my wife crying and inquire, “What’s wrong?” She always answers, “Nothing.” Men don’t have a square to process this type of response.

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Your Bible is not a copy of a copy of a copy.

by Dr. Adam Harwood
Assistant Professor of Christian Studies
Truett-McConnell College


Have you ever heard a comment like this? “The Bible contains mistakes which crept in because it was translated from one language to another over the centuries.” Sadly, this demonstrates a flawed understanding of Bible translation. Why does it matter?

Beside the facts that Jesus lived, died, and had followers who claimed He rose from the grave, everything we know about Jesus comes from the Bible. Also, God speaks through His Word (Psalm 119:105) and faith comes by hearing the Word (Rom 10:17). The Bible provides the content for pastors’ sermons and Christians’ devotions. Knowing how it came to be in its present form strengthens our confidence in Scripture.

The Bible’s 66 books were inspired by God and written by men, who were carried along by the Holy Spirit (2 Tim 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:20-21). The Baptist Faith and Message declares of Scripture, “It has God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth, without any mixture of error, for its matter.” Was the Bible translated from one language to another over the centuries? No. Your Bible is not a copy of a copy of a copy. That would be a misunderstanding of Bible translation.

Did you play the game “telephone” as a child? The first player whispers a statement into the ear of his neighbor, who whispers the message into the ear of his neighbor. The message moves around the circle. By the time the statement returns to the first player, the message has changed. It’s now different than the original message. Thankfully, that’s not how Bible translation works. The Bible was originally written in Hebrew and Greek. Translators work from ancient texts, not later translations. If Bible translation were a game of telephone, then each player would take turns listening to the original message without passing it to his neighbor.

Bible translations are usually undertaken by committees of scholars with expertise in biblical languages, history, and theology. These committees don’t begin by consulting recent translations but ancient texts. Translators read standard Hebrew and Greek critical texts, which are based on thousands of manuscripts from various periods of history and geographic locations. Although these manuscripts are housed in universities and museums around the world, images of many early manuscripts can be viewed online. None of the manuscripts contain the handwriting of Moses or Paul; all are subsequent copies. Some New Testament manuscripts have been copied in the early-100’s AD. A small number of variants exist among thousands of manuscripts and they raise no theological problems.

Typically, translation committees adopt one of two translation philosophies, formal or functional equivalence. Both philosophies are legitimate and attempt to faithfully render the original Hebrew or Greek text into a “CAN” (Clear, Accurate, and Natural) translation. The formal equivalence translations (such as KJV, ESV, and NASB) attempt to maintain the original form of the biblical text by translating and replicating the order of the Hebrew or Greek words. The functional equivalence translations (such as NIV and NLT) seek to translate the meaning of the biblical words, regardless of their original order.

Technically, a paraphrase (such as The Message) is not considered a translation because it is not limited to the meaning of the Hebrew or Greek text; ideas may be imported. Also, the discussion above excludes the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ New World Translation, which is not based on standard critical texts.

Because English Bible translations have always been made by consulting the earliest texts rather than later translations, we can know that when we open our English Bible we are opening the Word of God.

Basic Recommended Resource: Clinton Arnold, How We Got the Bible

Advanced Recommended Resource: Philip Ryken, The Word of God in English

 

Things Money Can’t Buy

By Franklin L. Kirksey, Pastor, First Baptist Church of Spanish Fort, Alabama, and author of Sound Biblical Preaching: Giving the Bible a Voice.

These expositions by Dr. Kirksey are offered to suggest sermon or Bible study ideas for pastors and other church leaders, both from the exposition and from the illustrative material, or simply for personal devotion.

 

Ecclesiastes 10:19b

 


Introduction

“Money answers everything”, said Solomon, (Ecclesiastes 10:19b).  Likely, you have heard, “Money talks!”  In The Guinness Book of Money, Leslie Dunkling and Adrian Room share the following: “The poet Richard Armour [1906-1989] has said:  ‘That money talks / I’ll not deny, I heard it once:  It said ‘Goodbye.’’”[1]

David George Moore, author of The Battle for Hell, explains in his commentary on Ecclesiastes, “Although verse 19 is somewhat enigmatic, it does seem to point to the fact that the fool believes that earthly things are the way to achieve the good life.”[2]

Dr. Warren W. Wiersbe comments Ecclesiastes 10:19b, “This verse declares the personal philosophy of the foolish officers: Eat all you can, enjoy all you can, and get all you can.  They are totally indifferent to the responsibilities of their office or the needs of the people.  In recent years, various developing nations have seen how easy it is for unscrupulous leaders to steal government funds in order to build their own kingdoms.  Unfortunately, it has also happened recently to some religious organizations.

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Not My Bible

by Walker Moore, founder, AweStar Ministries (awestar.org)


When not traveling on Sundays, I attend Parkview Church in Tulsa, Okla. If you visit our church, you’d come away scratching your head. There’s not a park to be seen.

I asked one of our founding members about our church’s name. He told me when it was built, you could see Tulsa’s famous LaFortune Park from the front door. As the years passed, buildings filled the space. Since Parkview Baptist no longer has a park view, maybe we should call it “Parking Lot View Baptist Church.”

I don’t attend there because of the view, but because the people have a heart for the lost and encourage those who have ministries outside the church. These include Dr. Lin Brister with First Fruits Ministry; Frank Baxter and Up with Downs, a ministry to special needs children in Russia; Alan Carlton’s ministry to Venezuela; and the least of these, Awe Star Ministries, where I serve.

This past Sunday, I attended Parkview. After church, a friend came up and told my wife and me that not long ago, she volunteered to help at a library. She was going through some books when out fell an old newspaper clipping with the date “2001” written on it.  Picking it up, she noticed a picture of the columnist, who looked like a younger version of me. You guessed it: the clipping was one of my Oklahoma Baptist Messenger articles.

Having spent many years serving as a church staff member, I’ve performed my share of funerals. Often, when I visit a home to prepare for the service, I’ll ask if the deceased had a favorite Scripture verse. Many times the family can’t recall one, so I ask to see their departed loved one’s Bible. I leaf through the old, worn Bible they bring me, looking for an underlined verse or handwritten notes in the margin. Almost without fail, I find a sheet of paper stuck between the pages: a poem, a newspaper clipping or a thank-you card from a friend or relative.

Mom and Dad, encourage your children to have their own study Bible that will take them into their adult years. Right after I became a Christian, I bought a New American Standard Bible. Through the years, I’ve marked and underlined it until the pages are worn down and falling out. Next year, I’ll celebrate forty years as an ordained minister, and in those forty years, I’ve had only two Bibles. I had to retire the first one because the students kept rearranging the books inside. I would find 1 John in the book of Leviticus or Malachi in the pages of Revelation. The second Bible, my newest, is held together by duct tape. I hope it lasts another ten years, because I hate breaking in a new one.

My Bibles are the most sacred thing I own. I’ve told my family if our house catches on fire, and if they can do this safely: save my Bibles first. When I was new to the ministry and went to hear some of the greatest preachers of those times, I would ask them to sign the back of my Bible. I have the signatures of W.A. Criswell, J.D. Grey, Hyman Appleman and others. This Bible holds the record of my journey as a new believer up to today. As I type this, I look to my right, and there it is sits on the desk like a well-worn sword.

I’m writing this because as I travel, I see more and more people pulling out iPads or cell phones with Bible apps. I’m glad they have the Word on their devices and can follow along, and I know they can write notes on them … but it isn’t the same. You can’t flip through an app or write an outline in its side column. I can’t imagine going to a home 10 years from now and asking the family, “Can you bring me Grandma’s iPad so I can pull up her Bible?” I’d probably discover Grandma forgot to leave her family the password.

Have you ever stuck a prayer request into an iPad? Or tucked a Season of Prayer insert into your cell phone? Please understand, I’m not against modern technology. I use it daily for study and research. Almost all of the books I’ve read in the past four years have been on my Kindle, but the Bible is more than just another book. It’s something to be meditated upon, written in, dissected, studied, and memorized. No electronic device can take the place of God’s holy Word written on paper. I use the Bible app sometimes, but it’s not my Bible.

When you see me on Sunday, whether I’m at Parkview or Parking Lot View, you’ll recognize me. I’ll be the one with a well-worn Bible at my side.