Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Big Day in Greek Class!

Big day today in Greek class! We finished the entire indicative mood! 

Time for a review and an exam, then we move on to participles, infinitives, etc. To all students who are taking summer school wherever you may live:

  • Rejoice in the Lord's faithfulness.
  • Praise him for what he has accomplished thus far.
  • Thank him that he is able to do what you cannot do.
  • Entrust your every care to him today. 

It's not eloquence he seeks. It's faithfulness. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Biking on the Neuse River Greenway

I was so thankful to be able to hop on the bike again today. 

The weather at the Neuse River Greenway could not have been more pleasant. 

Good strong effort and another step taken toward preparing for my triathlons this summer. 

I find it difficult to summarize how awesome it feels to be out on this historic trail near Wake Forest. I couldn't have asked for a better day. 

Back to writing my book on the kingdom.

What Makes Families Strong?

In his Sunday message, Chuck Swindoll of Stonebriar Community Church in Frisco, TX, cited a University of Nebraska study called the Family Strengths Research Project

The study asked, "What makes families strong?" The researchers found 6 main qualities in strong families, and I pass them on to you for your thoughtful consideration:

  1. Strong families are committed to the family.
  2. Strong families spend time together.
  3. Strong families have good family communication.
  4. Strong families express appreciation for one another.
  5. Strong families have a spiritual commitment.
  6. Strong families are able to solve problems in a crisis.

If all of this seems to be a fairy tale, the good news is that a strong family life is available to everyone. If Christ lives within us, then we have the capacity to develop these kinds of qualities toward others.The challenges we face as families are opportunities for him to prove this point. 

Ask the Lord this question: What can I do today that will make my family stronger? Keep asking until you hear an answer. And when he tells you, do it. Love like there's no tomorrow, and when tomorrow comes, love again. 

All the best,


Monday, May 16, 2022

Kerr YMCA -- Thank You!

My thanks to the Kerr Family Y in Wake Forest for allowing me to work out today in their fabulous gym. They also have an olympic size pool I can use. I am blessed! 

Sunday, May 15, 2022

Brahms' Requiem at Duke

Duke University was the site of tonight's Brahms' Requiem performance by the Choral Society of North Carolina and the Orchestra Pro Cantores. 

Rodney Wyncoop directed. 

For all the music I listen to, forgive me, but this is the best kind of music there is. Without a doubt, with its amalgam of human ingenuity and divine-enabled creativity, all music played today is born from Classical Music. Every human being born with the gift of hearing must listen to this at last once in their life. Imagine what the heavenly choir will be like. Will we sing in all the different languages? Tonight's program, as you can see, was thankfully published in both the German and its English translation. 

The director had an absolute command of the score and the dynamics for every instrument group and every vocal chord. They got a much-deserved standing ovation. 

Congratulations to the maestro, the orchestra, and the vocalists. I know how hard this piece is. When Becky and I sang with the Northeast Piedmont Chorale, we performed this piece, though in English. 

So wonderful to have the honor of hearing these musicians tonight. The singing and playing was flawless. How could you not be inspired when the words were from Scripture? Luther once wrote, "After the word of God, the noble art of music is the greatest treasure in the world." Music has the power to embed the words of Scripture deeply into our minds. Thanks be to God. 

A Lovely Evening

Lovely evening last night. Had some wonderful Ethiopian food at the Awaze Restaurant in Cary. My thanks to Azeb and Eden for their fabulous job in cooking and serving my meal. It was perfect. 

Then it was off to the Carolina Theater. 

My favorite Chicago tribute band (they hail from Russia) is currently touring the States and "just happened" to be in Durham for a concert last night. 

If you'd like to see and hear why I think they are simply the best, here's a sample from YouTube. 

This evening we go from Rock to Classical with Brahms' Requiem. Talk about variety. 

Have a great Lord's Day. 

Saturday, May 14, 2022

Between Exhiliration and Agony

God is so good to me. He usually gives me 8 solid hours of sleep each night. Last night, however, I slept for an unbelievable 9 and a half hours. When I woke up I felt super refreshed and eager to hit the gym, where I had a monster workout. 

This morning I found myself chatting with some guys about exercise and injuries. Many of them are coming back from injuries, which really got me thinking. Even when you're used to it, exercise is still difficult. Sometimes the pain you feel is not from an injury. It's the kind that comes from pushing yourself -- the kind you feel halfway through a marathon or halfway up a 14,000 foot mountain. I know I'm not alone when I say that I both love and hate this kind of pain. It is both exhilarating and agonizing all at once. You dig and dig and hope you don't fall apart. 

As a runner and climber (though a complete novice at both sports), I would like the hard parts of my sports life to remind me to also seek challenges in the other areas of my life, to venture out of my comfort zone when it comes to the books I write or the talks I give. Overall, it's a good place to be in, this spot between exhilaration and agony, moving forward in life with purpose, embracing both your strengths and weaknesses, always striving to "excel in the work of the Lord" (1 Cor. 15:58). It's a fun and worthy goal to strive for, as we seek to become the best version of our own unique self. 

Friday, May 13, 2022

Much To Be Thankful For

Happy Friday from my house to yours! Tonight Mama B's birthday celebration continued at the Olive Garden. 

We have so much to be thankful for. Ira agrees! 

Love, Dave

This Sunday: Brahms' Requiem at Duke

I just bought my ticket for this stellar event Sunday afternoon. 

It will be held in the newly renovated Baldwin Hall on the Duke campus. 

It's the most beautiful German requiem I've ever heard. Brahms is divine. Of the three German "B's," he is the most canticle. His understanding of the human voice was well-nigh perfect. I sort of feel sorry for people who don't know German. It is such a beautiful language for classical music. Such deep comfort for the soul. 

Hermeneutics Is NOT Dynamic

Summer school starts on Monday. I'll be teaching Greek 2 for three weeks and then Greek 1 for three weeks. We meet daily from 9:00 to noon. When I was in seminary, I loved taking these kinds of "intensives." Personally, I would much rather take 1 course every 3 weeks than 5 courses every 15 weeks. I find that my summer students tend to do very well. The key is to "know thyself." It takes bucket loads of self-discipline to succeed. And don't forget time management skills. After all, the pace is one lesson per day rather than one lesson per week. But it's certainly possible. For 45 years I have cultivated a love for the Bible and have pursued an understanding of it. In teaching Greek 2, I try to help my students do the same. 

Now, my Greek 2 course is somewhat unique. Not only do I teach grammar -- yes, there will be plenty of talk about infinitives and participles and the subjunctive mood and mi-verbs -- but I also teach my students how to use their knowledge of Greek in actually studying and teaching the New Testament, based on my book Using New Testament in Ministry. There are 10 basic, universal steps involved in biblical hermeneutics -- historical analysis, literary analysis, textual analysis, lexical analysis, syntactical analysis, etc. I use to save hermeneutics/exegesis for Greek 3. But not many go on to take that course. That is regrettable. A foundation (Greek 1-2) exists only for one reason -- to build a superstructure on it (Greek 3). That said, I do find that students are open to studying Greek 3 on their own, and I have designed a book to help them do just that. 

Because scriptural truth is foundational for our lives as believers, it's important that our students develop a consistent method of Bible study, one that would lead to accurate and insightful applications of the Scriptures. Unfortunately -- and it is tragic that I even have to bring this up -- some say that the rules of biblical hermeneutics are dynamic. The rules change as they adapt to different cultural contexts. They are wrong. The "rules of the road" are the same whether I am teaching in China, Ethiopia, Korea, Romania, or Ukraine. Biblical hermeneutics is biblical hermeneutics regardless of your nationality, ethnicity, and geography. And we all need to be following the proper guidelines when studying the Bible. 

Truth be told, a day never passes in my life without me using one or more of the principles I teach my students. I never prepare a message without going through these steps. With proper preparation and careful application, our students can come to treasure the Scriptures. The least we can do is teach them how to properly interpret the text. 

Students, are you ready to take the first step? 

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Dave 2.0 (Part 3 of Reflections on a Birthday)

Today is a day that brings up a lot of feelings for me. It's mostly a day for memories, most of them really great. But there are painful memories as well. For better or worse, I tend to get introspective on days like this, assessing where I've been and where I'm going. In taking a step backward I've become acutely aware of one thing: I am still full of competitive fire, the same fire Becky and I shared through 37 blessed years of marriage, though now that fire inhabits the heart of a single man. I'm chomping at the bit to take on new goals that I don't know are within my capabilities, goals that come with the real possibility of failure or embarrassment, like when I married Becky or when I enrolled at the University of Basel for my doctorate or when I wrote books that I seriously questioned any publisher would want to look at or when I ran races where the results were far from certain, races where I was in way over my head, where the possibility of failure was real. Through this process of loss and doubt it's become clear to me that what drives me every moment of every day isn't winning or the accomplishment per se but the challenge to be all that God has created me to be and to become a really good steward of all he has entrusted to me. Nothing ignites me more than the thrill of the great unknown and finding purpose in everything in my life. But there's also a dark side to all of this. When you take on a challenge -- say, the challenge of a marriage or a career -- you take enormous risks. I joke with people that, as a teacher, I've been "put out to pasture" and have achieved "legendary" status. But when I'm honest with myself, that status is very uncomfortable for me. It makes me feel useless and unwanted, like I've been relegated to sitting on the sidelines reminiscing about the "glory" days of old, which is a notion I absolutely detest. And if I ask myself WHY I feel this way, it's because I know that, at the deepest level of reality, I am dispensable, and that life has its seasons and we somehow have to learn to let things take their course. Still, the craving for significance, the need for challenge, never dies. That's one reason I'm more excited than ever to get back into the ultramarathon arena, a bloodied, aging warrior still seeking an experience that will test his abilities and endurance. And in opening myself to new vistas, I feel alive. I want to be in the arena for as long as I live, even when I'm old and washed up, because the Lord never writes us off and neither should we. I want to be that 70 year old still running ultras or that 80 year old still doing triathlons or that 90 year old still running 5Ks. If "consumed with winning" was Dave 1.0, I guess "consumed with challenges" has been Dave 2.0. I can't even imagine what Dave 3.0 will be like. 

I can't find the right words to say how grateful I am for all Becky was to me, not least in her example as one who passionately lived life TO THE MAX, both for the Lord and for others. And you know what? I'm not afraid of loss any more. In fact, I've learned to embrace it. I cannot find the words to adequately express the magic that happens when you learn to enjoy the memories of the past while anticipating the joys of the future. 

To Becky: Happy 69th Birthday, sweetheart.

And to all of you: Cheers to big things ahead. See you in Dave 3.0.

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Flat Top Hike Report (Part 2 of Reflections on a Birthday)

VERY EXCITED to share with you some pictures of today's hike in commemoration of Becky's 69th birthday, which would have taken place tomorrow. I don't think I've ever had a more enjoyable hike. Honestly. It was a mountaintop experience both literally and spiritually, as well as a breathtaking experience -- again, both literally and spiritually! I like doing hard things to remember Becky by because she was such a strong woman. She enjoyed challenges every bit as much as I do. She made it to the "summit" of most of her "climbs" in life, and even when she battled cancer she didn't back down one iota. Today's hike was really hard. As I thought about that, I thought about why humans even want to do hard things. There are a lot of easier things we can do with our lives. Becky didn't have to sew her own clothes. She didn't have to grow and can her own vegetables, or beef. She didn't have to homeschool our kids or work in the ICU or organize our trips to Ethiopia. There were a lot of easier things she could have done with her life. But easier is not the point. When we do hard things we learn to rely upon God. When we do hard things we are changed as persons. When we do hard things we learn how to overcome trauma. Becky and I did a lot of hard things together, and for that I will forever be grateful to her Creator and Redeemer. 

Being out in creation again today, the Scriptures began to flood my mind:

  • The heavens are declaring the glory of God; they are a marvelous display of his craftsmanship.
  • For since the creation of the world, God's invisible qualities -- his eternal power and divine nature -- have been clearly understood from what has been made.
  • Sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you.
  • Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the whole world, from everlasting to everlasting, you are God.
  • He has made everything beautiful in its time.
  • Our help is in the name of the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.

I think most of us would agree that the Bible has a lot to say about what the creation all around us can teach us about him! 

As I said, my plan for the day was to drive about 3 hours northwest of the farm to climb Flat Top. Here's the view just north of Bedford as I approached the Peaks of Otter. 

To the left is Sharp Top; on the right is Flat Top, my destination for the day. When I arrived at Abbott Lake I was surprised to find that my car was the only one in the parking lot. 

Usually this place is jumping. In fact, I saw no one on today's hike -- not at the summit, not on the trail. You begin your hike just past a lodge, where you have a great view of the lake and Sharp Top. 

Before you come to the trailhead there's this cute little building called an "ordinary." 

In the 1800s, an ordinary was the equivalent of a modern-day hotel where you could have your "ordinary" needs met -- a hot meal, a comfortable bed, a place to stable your horse. The trail I took today is called the Lake Trail. There's another trail that starts at mile 83 on the Blue Ridge Parkway. It's called the Parkway Trail. I've now hiked Flat Top 5 times, but this was my first time using the Lake Trail, which is far and away the more difficult one. 

As you can see, there's nothing "flat" about Flat Top. The trail is steep and tiring, even when you take it slow. Because I needed to get in a good cardio workout today, it was just what the doctor ordered. 

The trail starts out easy enough. 

But soon you are climbing at about a 20-30 percent grade. 

The summit of Sharp Top looks down on you the whole way as if you to spur you on. 

Nearing the end of your hike you begin to encounter some large rocks that slow you down even more.

Not to worry, though. Eventually you do reach the summit. 

At this point there are no views. But a short scramble up some boulders is all it takes to open up a vast array of beauty. 

Here I am looking north. 

Looking south, the ever-watchful gaze of Sharp Top greets you. 

I must have spent half an hour at the summit enjoying the quiet and the views. I read Scripture, sang hymns, sent photos to my kids, replenished my glucose with some delicious chocolate milk -- and thought about Becky :-)  

Looks easy, right?

I can't recommend this hike enough if you're ever in the area. But plan for it to be brutal on your quads and knees. Be sure to bring hiking poles -- they relieve about 30 percent of the weight on your knees. You will need them especially on the descent. If you ever do make this hike, they have practically hidden the survey marker. I dare you to try and find it! 

Tomorrow: Some final reflections on my marriage to Becky. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Reflections on a Birthday (Part 1)

You might have noticed that for the past couple of days I haven't said much (if anything) about Becky even though she is never for a moment far from my mind and, I know, from many of yours either. Even today, while I was running, I was thinking about what I wanted to write about this Thursday on what would have been her 69th birthday. You may not know this, but I actually do a lot of my writing while running. It's not that I'm taking notes or anything like that, although I could do that on my iPhone. But actually most of my writing is kind of just visual in my head and I will think about something and then, after the run, I'll jot down everything or open up Blogspot and write about it then and there. Running is where my thoughts tend to percolate in my brain. So today I thought a lot about Becky and what I should say about her this week. You have probably noticed that a lot of the things I write about on this blog are things I'm personally processing, things I don't have figured out, and so for me the process of writing is actually therapeutic and didactic. It's me trying to process different issues in my own mind before sharing them with others. 

I'm pretty confident the Lord will give me something to share on Thursday with all of you. Hopefully it will be encouraging to read. Tomorrow I plan on climbing a mountain, and sometimes when I'm out alone on the trail I can feel Becky with me. I imagine her breathing in the fresh air and absorbing the beauty all around her, and I can't help but wonder if that's part of what constantly draws me to the outdoors. Words can't adequately express the love I still feel for her. I feel so blessed to have had a wife who was unquestionably supportive of all my aspirations and adventures. She never once questioned or discouraged me from pursuing God's will for my life. The best decision I ever made (after placing my hope and trust in Christ) was to marry Becky Lynn Lapsley. 

Stay tuned .... 

A Lesson from Running

I've already won. 

Sure I like to race. But I love training more. I race and I train for the love of running. If I had to choose between training and racing, I'd choose training a million times over. I run for the joy of running. I would run even if there were no races. What really drives me is a state of joy that comes from doing things just for the sake of doing them. I'm flabbergasted at all the beauty there is out there in the world and I just want to explore it. It's the process that I enjoy.

I've already won. 

A Few Farm Pics

Hey folks. Just finished my work for the day and I thought I'd share with you a few pics. This never gets tiring. Today I was sprucing things up a bit before haying season starts. As you can see, the hay barns are empty but not for much longer, Lord willing! 

"Do Unto Others ...."

Our weather has turned drop dead gorgeous. 

So it was a perfect day for a short 5 mile run at the trail. 

While running I kept getting emails. This is about the only time you won't hear from me immediately -- that, and when I'm in class. Otherwise, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." It grates on me a bit when people put off answering their emails. Why do that? When I was a student I had profs who finished their grading long after the semester had ended knowing full well that their students were waiting breathlessly for their grades. Not good. "Do unto others ...," remember? The final class of the semester was last night and my semester grades were posted this morning. Why? Because the students deserve it. 

Think about it.

Monday, May 9, 2022

Luke 6:40 As the Basis for Teaching

We educators have been enrolled in what is a pedagogical experiment of sorts and the results are questionable at best. This merely connecting students virtually and giving them unlimited access to information without any mentoring and personal guidance has resulted in them forming silos of individuality and echo chambers. It's pretty clear that this is not good for society. That this is happening in Christian education is frightening. Things can clearly go wrong, especially in advanced societies, when learning takes place in a vacuum. Christian education is likeness education. Like father like son. Like pulpit like pew. Like teacher like pupil. The person who is perfectly taught will be just like his or her teacher (Luke 6:40). We're witnessing significant unravelling of this traditional and time-tested approach to Christian education and it is not something to ignore. 

In this regard, I highly recommend this book

Sunday, May 8, 2022

It's All in the Mind

If you can't see yourself reaching your goal, then why even bother trying? You have to know with 100 percent certainty that you've done the homework and then just keep putting one foot in front of the other. Your mind controls the body, and if you have any doubts, any misgivings, when you step on that starting line, you're doomed. To me, it's all in the mind. 

Happy Mother's Day!

Good morning! Miss Moo and I want to wish all the mothers out there a Happy Mother's Day! 

We hope you're all having an amazing day! 

Saturday, May 7, 2022

The One Great Finish Line

"When it is dark enough, you can see the stars." Ralph Waldo Emerson. 

The Cocodona 250 mile race in Arizona is now history. The runners did an amazing job. Watching their feat of determination, will power, and strength is just what I need going into my third ultra. 

I loved watching every single minute of the race. To all of the runners: Congratulations on completing a notoriously difficult course. This is life at its rawest. And to all of my readers: May we all use our own God-given gifts to feed each others' souls as we all endure to that one great finish line. 

This is what it means to be alive.