Sunday, September 25, 2022

He Did It!

Today at the Berlin Marathon, Eliud Kipchoge lowered his marathon record to 2:01:09. 

That is completely amazing. Kipchoge is possibly the best athlete who ever lived. I am not worthy of sharing the marathon course with him. What an inspiration, our greatest hero in the marathon! 

The 2022 Clearview Apologetics Conference

As you all know, the Clearview Apologetics Conference was held yesterday and today in Henderson, NC. 

In all honesty, it was one of the most delightful conferences I've ever had the privilege of attending and participating in. It was like having your cake and eating it too. I really did enjoy the presentations by my colleagues Abidan Shah, Maurice Robinson, and Peter Gurry. 

Here's Maurice promising to never again make a joke about beardless men. 

For me, the best part of the conference was chatting with people during the breaks, as with this young man who was so passionate about the study of the Greek New Testament it put me to shame. 

I also appreciated the fact that so many really good questions were asked doing the Q & A sessions. I love the idea of having people text their questions to the moderator who then passed them on to us. 

All in all, the speakers and presentations were informative and touched on subjects that are important to all followers of Christ. There was a ton of great info, but what stuck with me the most were:

1. New Testament Textual Criticism is as much an art as it is a science. 

2. If God's word is to be "a lamp to my feet and a light to my path" (Ps. 119:105), I need to to able to discern whether the better attested reading is found above or below the line in my Greek New Testament.

3. Now more than ever I want to leave behind as my legacy a generation of Bible students armed with the ability to "correctly handle the word of truth" (2 Tim. 2:15).

4. I was so excited to see that John Meade and Peter Gurry's new book is now out. May it have a long and happy life! 

5. Every speaker emphasized the fact that the only way to experience authentic Christianity is through a firsthand acquaintance with the Bible. Don't just let a friend or a YouTube video tell you what the Bible says. Read it and study it for yourself. 

That is exactly my prayer now that the conference is over. Each of the speakers is now preparing his talk for publication, because the hope is that one day these papers will see the light of day as a published book. Each of us will try to explain what we believe is the best approach to the subject of textual criticism, but in the end our prayer is that this conference -- and the book to come -- will open the door to a deeper understanding and more obedient application of the word of God, not only for this generation, but for all that are to come. 

I want to offer my deepest thanks to Clearview Church and it magnificent staff for being such great hosts. An extra-large bundle of gratitude goes to pastor Abidan Shah for leading his congregation with such courage and humility. Pastors never lose face by telling their people, "I don't know. But I'll try to find out." 

Friday, September 23, 2022

Pre-Conference Dinner

Tomorrow's conference actually began tonight with a pre-conference steak dinner in Middleburg, NC, hosted by Clearview Church. 

It was so good to see my old friends Maurice Robinson and Peter Gurry again, as well as my former assistant Abidan Shah. 

Each of these three scholars has a Ph.D. in New Testament Textual Criticism. I am so eager to sit at their feet tomorrow. I have much to learn from them. "As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another."

John 1:1 in English and Spanish

This morning my English version of choice was Wuest. His paraphrase of John 1:1 is simply magnificent:

In the beginning the Word was existing. And the Word was in fellowship with God the Father. And the Word was as to His essence absolute deity.

In the Greek, the verb usually translated "was" occurs three times but each time with a slightly different nunce, which Wuest brings out nicely. My go-to Spanish version -- La Biblia de las Américas -- does so as well. 

I'm so impressed with the Spanish here.

Off to work outdoors all day on this perfect fall day! 

Don't Shy Away From It

I'm not a huge fan of pullups, which is why I've started doing them. 

The funny thing is that after doing them for a while you really start liking them. What in your life are you learning to like or even love because you didn't shy away from it?

Thursday, September 22, 2022

All Is Well

After all these years of living on the farm, the night sky still amazes me. 

The animals have been fed and all is well with the world. Enjoy your evening wherever you are! 

Chasing Down Your Dreams

Stay present. Chase down your dreams. Enjoy the beautiful challenge. It's all a part of the journey. 

When a Small Decision Turns Out to Be a Major One

Have you ever made a "small" decision that turned out to be one of the most important decisions you ever made with the most significant consequences? Here's a photo taken when I was about to become a student at Biola. 

As you know, it was in my senior year that I dropped out of my beginning Greek class after just 3 weeks. I had left Hawaii 4 years previously because I had wanted to major in Bible. But because I couldn't handle Greek, it looked like that dream was coming to an end. As I began contemplating changing my major to Christian Education (where Greek was not required), I stumbled upon Moody Bible Institute's correspondence Greek course. Apparently something clicked, because 4 months later I had passed both Greek 1 and 2 and was able to take Greek 3 and 4 that summer. A year later I was hired to teach Greek at Biola.

When I dropped my Greek class, I could have easily dismissed my desire to graduate as a Bible major. I am so grateful I didn't. Sometimes we tell ourselves that the little decisions in life don't matter when actually they turn out to be extremely important ones. If I hadn't explored other options, I probably never would have had the opportunity to become a Greek teacher. The more I look back on that decision, the more I see the hand of God in it. Above all, I learned that God is a good Father who is intensely interested in the desires of our heart and the dreams that reside deep inside of us. 

Are you facing an important decision in your life? Be sure to take it to the Lord in prayer, and don't overlook the fact that his answer might well come in the form of a decision that you think is a minor one at the present time. 

Which English Bible Do Your Prefer?

If you could only read one English Bible version for the rest of your life, which would it be?

KJV

NKJV

ESV

NASB

CSB

NIV

My answer Saturday at the conference. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Question Time

Who thinks I need this shirt? 

Counting Down

Finishing touches on prepping today for one of the most interesting and challenging presentations I will ever make this weekend when I try to convince my audience that there is a middle ground between preferring the Alexandrian text and preferring the Byzantine text.  So thankful to the team at Clearview Church for getting everything so well prepared for the conference. So excited to meet everyone who attends. 

Counting down to Saturday.

Untying Two Nots

Rich time in John 4:14 this morning. 

Jesus makes it so that we are never thirsty again. Note the two "not's" in the Greek: both ou and . Here's an overly-literal translation:

But whoever drinks of the water that I will give to him will not not thirst into the age

I like how Williams put this:

Whoever drinks of the water I will give him will never, no never, be thirsty again! 

Jesus is the most satisfying person we will ever meet. Just an encouragement to drink deeply of him today! 

To My Greek Students

Exam 1 is now in the books. Congratulations on a job well done. But we still have a lot of grinding miles ahead. Time to put the head down and get to work as never before, because the best part of the journey is still ahead. 

Enjoying the Process

Just snapped this picture. 


It's been perfect weather for working outdoors. Haying will continue for at least two more months. Farm/yard work, as with everything in life, is a process. I used to be too goal oriented. Over the years I've learned it's better to chase down your goals, much like a child chasing a butterfly with his butterfly net, enjoying the chase in every which direction but not really worried about whether or not he catches the butterfly. 

What are you doing this day? Chase after it with a light and happy heart, curious about where it will take you and enjoying the process rather than being wedded to a certain outcome. 

Striving to Age Well

Hitting shoulders today!

After all these months of weight training I'm still super grateful for the sport. It's molded me, challenged me, inspired me, it gives me something to go after with everything I have, but most importantly it's brought me friendships I'll cherish forever. Looking forward to seeing how weight training will continue to play a part in my life as I strive to age well!

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

The Rule of Three

There's something about the number 3. The Three Stooges. 


I came, I saw, I conquered. Father, Son, Holy Spirit. Lost sheep, lost coin, lost son. Niña, Pinta, Santa Maria. 3D. Rock, paper, scissors. 3 point basket. 3 ring circus. Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil. On your mark, get set, go. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. 


Likewise with weight lifting. If you want to get strong, the "3" approach works well:

3 reps per set.
3 sets per exercise.
3 exercises per body part.
3 minutes of rest between sets.
3 workouts per week. 

Remember: The triangle is the strongest geometric shape. 

Climbing the Pollus?

I would LOVE to climb the Pollus one day. 

The guide shown here was also my guide when I climbed the Alps several years ago. Walter is a Spanish speaker who also speaks fluent German. He charges $640 per day but it's well worth it to have such an experienced climber leading you. 

More Takeaways from the Williams New Testament

 From my Bible time this morning in Luke 10:25-28: 

I especially enjoyed these two rather nuanced renderings from the Williams NT:

You must love the Lord your God .... (v. 27). 

In Greek we have the imperatival future -- so that "You will" really means "You must." 

Continue to do this, and you will live (v. 28).

Here we find what's called imperfective aspect -- not just "do this" but "keep on doing this as a habit of life." 

Non-Greek readers will, I think, benefit tremendously from owning a copy of Williams! 


Monday, September 19, 2022

Milwaukee Marathon Is Cancelled!

It was on but now it's off. And cancelled only a couple of weeks before the race. For the life of me, I can't understand why an organization would claim to be putting on a major race and then at the last minute say they can't do it for "logistical" reasons. That's what we call not planning. Oh well, as my kids said to me last night, "Dad, God has other plans for you for that weekend." Wise, eh? 

There's always another race. 

Don't worry. I will run on. I will swim on. I will bike on. I will climb on. I'll stay focused on the little things that make me truly happy and aren't going away soon. 

P.S. Kudos to my Airbnb hosts in Milwaukee for giving me a full refund and to American Airlines for granting me a travel voucher until July of 2023. You guys rock. 

Gym Etiquette: 3 Mistakes to Avoid

In today's wothout I added a new exercise to my gym routine. I think I'm finally getting a handle on this weight training thing. 

As a newbie, however, it's still a high learning curve. Not only in terms of sets and reps. You also have to learn the "rules of the road" when it comes to gym etiquette. Most of these are unwritten but they are real nonetheless. Here are, in my estimation, the top 3 mistakes we lifters make:

1) Lifting directly in front of the dumbbell rack. When you do this, you block other people from getting in. They have to stand there waiting for you to finish before they can get to the dumbbells. The solution? Grab the dumbbells you need, take a few steps back, and leave enough room for others to get to the rack. Simple. 

2) Supersetting between multiple pieces of gym equipment at the same time. Don't be the guy who claims the lat press machine and then walks to the other end of the gym to claim some other piece of equipment and supersets between them. It's really bad etiquette to make someone else wait for you to complete your sets before they get to the equipment you're using. 

3) Talking on your phone during workouts. This one needs no explanation. It's just plain rude.

Now that I'm aware of these simple rules of gym etiquette, I hope I can do a better job of avoiding them in the future. At the end of the day, perhaps it all boils to one simple rule of thumb: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. 

Sunday, September 18, 2022

Haying

Perfect weather for haying. 

Thanks be to God. 

Hey Hey, Tampa Bay!

Fire the cannons!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

God's OTHER Plans for Your Life

I hope you will not think it impertinent of me, but I'd like to link to today's message by Chuck Swindoll at Stonebriar Community Church in Frisco, TX. I visited this church a few years ago when my good friend Harold Hoehner, New Testament professor at Dallas Theological Seminary, passed away and Stonebriar hosted his memorial service. I am not using hyperbole when I say that, in modelling Christian preaching, Chuck Swindoll has been used by God in my life in perhaps more ways than any other Christian leader. Not a Sunday goes by that I do not watch the Sunday morning service at Stonebriar, because I know I will always be challenged and edified. Chuck's message today was no exception. It's titled, "Responding to God's other plans." If you're anything like me, you've not always found this easy to do. I will give you one example and then be done. 

That God understands and cares about the most intimate details of our lives is perhaps made clearest when we experience the loss of someone we hold dear. It's during such trials that you have to learn to trust God completely. These are days when you feel overwhelmed by life and when nothing makes sense. Looking back now, I now know that Becky's passing was a very special time in my life. When your spouse dies, you begin to discover that God's love has no bounds. His love is unconditional. As Paul wrote, "Neither death nor life ... nor even the powers of hell can separate us from God's love." In his sermon today, Chuck says we have to let go of our will and accept God's. His plan doesn't just happen by magic. You discover it as you draw closer to God each and every day. 

Last month I discovered this truth in a very intimate way. For the first time since Becky died, I was able to sleep in our bedroom. For years I've been sleeping upstairs, using the downstairs master bedroom and bathroom for overnight guests. "It's better to put guests there than in my small upstairs bedrooms," I reasoned. But that was merely an excuse for the real reason I couldn't sleep in the same room where Becky died. Finally, God gave me the courage to do so, and the peace I've felt ever since has been overwhelming. I don't tell you this as a way of bragging. Far from it. It took me nine long years to take this step of faith and healing. But take it I did. Does that mean that God was dozing or negligent when he took Becky home? No. It means he had other plans. 

Pastor friend, do yourself a favor and visit the Stonebriar service some Sunday on Youtube. Today's message might be a good place to start. Christ said that each of us is to be a light to our own corner of the world. Chuck Swindoll, now 87, is a bright spot in so many people's lives, mine included. And for that I am grateful indeed. 

Those Articulate Articles (and a Nod to Winnie the Pu)

At church this morning, the message was from Phil. 2:1-11, and again I was reminded of just how relevant and important textual criticism is to our understanding of the New Testament. There are several significant variant readings in this passage, not least is the one found in verse 9. Did Paul write "a name that is above every other name" or "the name that is above every other name? The KJV has the former reading, while most other English Bible versions include the "the." 

Incidentally, when you look at the textual apparatus at the bottom of your Greek New Testament, you'll notice that evidence from the Old Latin and the Vulgate is not included. That's because Latin never did develop a definite article per se. Of course, there is the word "ille" in Latin, which is sometimes used as the equivalent of "the," as in the Latin translation of "Winnie the Pu," where we find "Winnie Ille Pu"!

Ille literally means "that," and both it and ipse (himself") would eventually be used as definite articles in Latin. It's interesting to me that the original meaning of the Greek article was as a demonstrative pronoun as well (this or that). It's also interesting to me that the Romance Languages, all descendants of Latin, show fully developed definite as well as indefinite articles. Oddly, though, in Romanian (my mother's native tongue), the definite article is attached to the end of the word. Amazing. 

Today, Finns and most Slavic speakers get by without any articles, definite or not. So do Koreans. But in English, the presence or absence of an article can make a difference in interpretation. 

"A name" or "the name"? You decide! 

P.S. You Latin types -- care to translate a bit of Winnie Ille Pu

No Sermon Can Replace Our Own Reading of God's Word

This morning I was up early to drive into town to get in a recovery walk at the high school. 

I also spent a wonderful hour in God's word. 

My friend, I hope you are treated to a greatly edifying sermon today at your church. But remember: nothing can replace our own personal study of the word of God. Even on Sunday morning. Also remember that we are not just depositories of truth but dispensers, stewards, and witnesses, not just to enjoy God's word but to share it. The gospel is not a secret to be kept to ourselves, but a story to be heralded. 

Saturday, September 17, 2022

The Joys of Running

This morning I drove to Farmville -- my favoritest little town in all of Southside Virginia -- for a 10K race. It was the cutest thing you ever saw. There were maybe 50 of us there to run it. 

Cozy! I've run on this trail hundreds of time -- from 10K races and half marathons all the way up to 32 mile ultras.


The trail is flat and fast -- even when you're suffering from a typical case of runner's feet. To wit: the toenail on my left foot just fell off. I now have two ugly big toes. 

I've decided, by the way ... wait for it! ... to give my toenail away to one lucky reader. All you have to do is leave a comment below and tell me what you would do with my toenail if you were fortunate enough to get it. I know this is going to be hard for some of you to do, especially since comments aren't enabled on my blog. Okay. Maybe you'll just have to repost the pic on all your social media accounts. Wouldn't that make you popular.

Oh, the joys of running .... 

Friday, September 16, 2022

Milwaukee in My Sights

Lord willing, in exactly two weeks from today (Friday), I will be in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, lecturing at a Bible college and seminary. Then on Saturday I'll meet up for dinner with a friend who lives in Chicago. Then Sunday is the marathon. This is probably the most "Midwesterner" I will ever be. Interactions with people and the race itself will change me. Every experience in our lives has that potential. That weekend is going to be incredibly difficult and rewarding and challenging and satisfying. I've been doing my best to get ready. I feel clichéd saying that, but I can't think of another way to describe the whirlwind my life has become of late. In the midst of all the craziness, God is so good to me. I know he wants me to stretch myself, to travel, to serve others, to push my body to its physical and mental limits. I am sure that this is where he has led me. So why does he keep giving me proofs? Because he loves me. Wholly and unreservedly. And, at 70, I'm starting to realize that he will never tire of showing me that. 

Lifting for Weight Loss?

The next installment of my "What I wish I knew before I started lifting" series ....

When I first started lifting weights, I thought I'd burn a lot of calories during my workouts. I didn't. Nobody does. The average person in a hour of weight lifting only burns between 150-300 calories. So you're thinking, "I just spent an hour at the gym, so I can get a juicy hamburger right now." No. That's not how it works. While weight lifting burns more calories than sitting on your sofa, you would have burned  more calories by simply going for a walk. The average person doing mildly intense cardio is burning more calories than they are in the gym. So just because I'm going to the gym doesn't mean it's burning off that extra bag of Doritos I had last night before going to bed. 

I never realized until recently that weight lifting didn't burn off many calories. What lifting will do is increase your RMR (resting metabolic rate), meaning that your body will be conditioned to burn calories day and night. 

Attracted, Distracted, Sidetracked?

Years ago I wrote these words in my Greek New Testament at the bottom of this page:

Let nothing in the world 

attract you

distract you

sidetrack you.

That's the message of Heb. 12:1-2 in a nutshell. Corrie ten Boom put it this way: "Look inside and be depressed. Look outside and be distressed. Look to him and be at rest." 

Come to him as you are and trust him the best you know how.

The 4 Essentials of Weight Training

Just back from today's workout. It was a barn burner. I am SO glad I learned to work with intensity and focus. That seems to be making a big difference in my workouts. 

This weekend I will take a gym break. Tomorrow I have a 10K in Farmville, and Sunday is church and more farm work. Monday I plan to work out at the Y in Wake Forest before class. The one thing I have to remember is that muscles grow outside the gym. Thus, in addition to working out, you have to provide your muscles sufficient rest and proper nutrition. Newbies like me tend to forget that. We overtrain and then don't eat enough protein and eat too much non-nutritious food. Then we wonder why we can't get our bodies to change.

At the end of the day, muscle-building can be boiled down to 4 things:

Do the proper exercises.

Lift progressively heavier weights.

Eat correctly.

Give your body sufficient rest. 

I invite you to join me on this amazing journey. Take charge of your health. I know that if you do, you will enter a dimension of fitness and wellbeing that you never knew existed. All it takes is making up your mind to start. 

Thursday, September 15, 2022

Chillaxing

After working outdoors all day, it's time to chillax on the porch with my Latin grammar .... 

... and some Johannes Bornlöf music. 

Such a powerful combo.

The Gym User's Dictionary

If you're going to spend time in the gym, you'll have to learn the lingo. 

Here are the most important bodybuilding words you need to know:

Collar -- Something that goes around your dog's neck.

Deadlift -- What a pallbearer does at a funeral.

Dips -- You'll find these at a party.

EZ curl -- A new hair product.

Flyes -- Those annoying things that buzz in your ear.

Free weights -- What you can take home for free.

French press -- Journalism in France.

Negatives -- When you have a bad attitude.

Pump -- A lady's shoe.

Dumbbell -- What people in the gym are likely to call you if you think these definitions are true. 

The Mind-Muscle Connection in Lifting

Today was another perfect day for running. I got in an easy cheesy 5 miles at the local high school before resuming my farm duties. 

As I ran today, I was impressed to start a series called "What I wish I had known before I started lifting." Consider this the first installment.

The first thing I wish someone had told me about weight lifting is what is called the mind-muscle connection. Never heard of it? Neither had I until recently. But if there isn't a mind-muscle connection, it doesn't matter how heavy you lift or how hard you train, you're simply not going to see the results you want. You have to focus on really feeling the contractions as you lift. To do this, you have to slow down the pace of your reps and control the contractions every single inch of the way. You're simply trying to establish that you've controlled the weight from point A to point B and the weight didn't just magically get there. On the other hand, if you're just swinging the weights around without any real purpose, you're not going to reach your goals. 

Starting this week I've begun working on this connection, especially while performing the eccentric phase of the set. You see, intensity and focus simply refer to the level of physical and mental exertion you give to your workout. It's the desire not just to make it through your workout but to really accomplish something with it. This means that mental concentration is essential. You have to keep your mind on your lifts and not on the TV or anything else. That's just counterproductive. As with other areas of life, there's definitely something to be said for having 100 percent of your attention on moving the weights with both intensity and focus. 

I'm going to make the mind-muscle connection a regular part of my workouts. I don't want my mind wandering elsewhere when I'm lifting. I want to stop going robotically through the motions. With God's help, I want to pound out every rep and every set with determination to get the most out of my routine. 

The Most Beautiful Sentence in the New Testament

Hebrews 1:1-4 is a single sentence in Greek. Many believe it to be the most beautiful sentence in the entire New Testament. 

Not everyone does, of course. But I'd say about 95 percent of New Testament scholars agree that there's nothing that can match it. Here's why. 

Drip, Drip, Drip

Yes, I know I sound like a dripping faucet. But permit me to remind you again about the upcoming Apologetics Conference at Clearview Church in Henderson, NC. You won't want to miss it. Yesterday I got the final speaker's lineup and lecture titles. They are:

Dr. Abidan Shah. His topic? "The Current State of the Original Text of the New Testament."

Next up? Dr. Peter Gurry, who is speaking on, "Reasoned Eclecticism and the Original Text."


Our third speaker is Dr. Maurice Robinson, whose topic is, "A Byzantine-Priority Perspective Regarding the Recognition of Autograph Originality."

Batting clean up is yours truly, whose slide show is called "Matthew 5:22 As a Possible Model of Recovering the Original Text."

May the cutest speaker prevail.  

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

You Are What You Eat

Filling in the gaps of training with proper diet and nutrition is essential for maintaining healthy living during the buildup to a peak race. Marathon training is nothing to mess around with. Eat healthy. Cook at home if you can. Time your meals to dovetail well with your training cycles. Fat, skinny, ripped, muscular, whatever -- your diet determines this just as much as your workouts. 

Tonight's supper. 

More Crazy Posts Ahead!

I'm spending the day working outdoors in some gorgeous weather. 


But right now it's time to enjoy a break. Even though I'm physically resting my brain is still going a billion miles per hour. Which means: more zany blog posts ahead! 

We GET to Do This

Loved my Bible time this morning. I read Hebrews 12 in the Williams translation. 

I like how he rendered the main clause of verse 1: 

Let us ... run with endurance the race for which we are entered.

The race for which we are entered. Today we might put it this way:

Let us run with endurance the race we signed up for.

Runners get this. Every race we run is a race we signed up for. Let's face it, running a marathon, for example, is hard. But nobody is forcing you to do it. I hate it when people complain about their running. You know why? Because complaining is a lot easier than actually tackling the problem. Get over it. When you became a follower of Jesus Christ, you agreed to take up your cross and follow him. Yes, it's really really hard to do this. Deal with it. 

I'm not here to tell you that the Christian life is easy. It ain't. I'm here to remind all of us that we get to do this. Since I started running I have become a completely different person. Since I accepted Christ in 1960 the change has been even more profound than that. The fact that in a couple of weeks my 70-year old body will allow me to run another marathon is not lost on me. But the fact that I'm still following the Lord Jesus after coming to know him 62 years ago is even more mind-boggling. 

I get to run this race. So do you. By his grace. And for his glory. 

Don't Just Go Through the Motions

This was my workout today. 

No single workout can ever change your body or your life. But put a lot of them together and they can. You can't just show up at the gym and go through the motions. It takes considerable time, effort, energy, and discipline to grow a body you're happy with. You're going to have to work hard in the gym. Here I am resting between sets. 

As long as you continue to hit the weights hard and get sufficient rest, your muscles will grow.