Thursday, March 31, 2022

That's Just the Way It Is!

We've only got 4 chapters to go in Greek 1 and am thrilled at the progress of the class. But the more you study a language, the more exceptions to the rules you also have to learn. This goes for English as well. See these words?




They all end in -ough but are pronounced completely differently! In English, we have "to," "too," and "two," but in German these become zu, auch, and zwei. Of course it makes no sense. I could go on and on.

The bottom line? When learning a language, there will always be exceptions to the rules. All languages have "That's just the way it is" characteristics!

Thoughts on Being Half Romanian

Recently I attended a Greek Orthodox Church as part of the research I am doing for my next book. I'm a bit familiar with the Orthodox Church as my mother grew up in the Romanian Orthodox Church. A few years ago I had the privilege of giving a series of lectures in Romania for a week. We started my speaking tour in the northwest part of the country (Oradea) and ended up in the southeast part (Bucharest). I spoke only in "free" churches and seminaries but my talks were also attended by a few Orthodox believers. I wish I had gotten to know more about the Romanian Orthodox Church while growing up in Hawaii. I also wish I had been taught how to speak Romanian so that I could have communicated with the Romanians in their own language during my visit there (I am one half Romanian). This is NOT to blame my mother -- she was probably the only Romanian speaker in all of Hawaii and had nobody to speak with! 

Historically, people who emigrated to the U.S. from Europe did so without traveling to any family members. This meant that they were complete strangers wherever they went and had to learn how to get along with everyone in order to survive. Of course, German immigrants ended up living close to other German immigrants, Greeks with Greeks, Italians with Italians, etc. I well remember visiting my mother's family in their home in Campbell, Ohio on different occasions and being impressed by how each national group lived in their own part of town. In addition, the Romanians had their own cultural center (as did the Greeks who lived next door) where Romanian customs continued to flourish among these immigrants. I tend to think that Americans' ignorance of other cultures comes from the geographical reality (fluke) of being an ocean away from everyone else. That does not excuse our ignorance, but a lot of Americans just don't seem to care too much about things that aren't directly important to them. To a European, that interconnectedness is more obvious.

All that to say, I still think it would be wonderful for those of you who are thinking about doing doctoral studies to at least consider studying abroad, whether in the UK or on the continent (as I did). Just as it's easier to understand English grammar when you learn a foreign language, it's easier to understand American culture (its strengths and weaknesses) when you have lived or travelled abroad and have something objective to compare it with. 

In the end, however, people are just people wherever you go. There are differences culturally, but that is the good stuff to enjoy. 

With my Romanian translator in front of Count Dracula's Castle in Transylvania. 

The Alps Again This Year?

Throwback to a super great trip 5 years ago. 

Sure hope I can back there this summer as part of my 70th birthday celebration. Anyone else have a milestone this year? 

Email Courtesy

Stepping up on my soapbox here. This morning I am answering emails, many of them from current or former students. I have to do this every morning or else I will fall way behind. I have a 24-hour policy when it comes to emails and text messages. You can expect a reply from me within 24 hours. Usually I will respond to you as soon as I have read your email. One email I responded to this morning took me 45 minutes to write since it involved exegeting several texts of Scripture. 

So what. It's simple courtesy

You know me -- I'm all about not making excuses for your life. Sometimes I have to wait for days before I get a reply to an email I send, even to someone I know well. Sometimes I have to wait for over a week. Folks, stop making excuses and just do it. And no, I'm not perfect either. Granted, sometimes you really do have a good excuse for not replying sooner than you did. I just don't think that's a good reason to let ourselves off the hook. On the other hand, I have some friends and colleagues who will answer my emails almost before I have written them. They are just that disciplined. Most of them are super-uber-busy, too. (You know who you are: K, H, R, and J. On the other hand, I am NOT talking about L, M, W, and A. Just kidding: I don't have anyone specific in mind with these abbreviations so don't write me.) 

Let's just do whatever we know we need to do. It's a choice we make. 

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Don't Forget to Get Outdoors!

This was my view during today's run. 

Please get outdoors today if you can and enjoy the beautiful creation! 

Jesus on Christian Unity (John 17)

Things are pretty heavy in evangelicalism right now, what with people calling out each other for being "heretics," but if you could use some encouragement I hope you'll consider what our Lord had to say about Christian unity in his high-priestly prayer in John 17

Real Learning REQUIRES Mentoring

If you are anything like me (you have to have your coffee in the morning), you welcome the advice of others who are more knowledgeable than you are. That's one thing I like so much about the Y. What would we do without the expert trainers they hire to persecute mentor their clients? That's true with all of life, isn't it? The classes I teach, the books I write, the sermons I give, the life I (hopefully) model to my students, are all the direct result of people who have poured their lives into mine and have passed on to me what I am now passing on to others. In fact, it's kinda comical that newbies in the gym are actually asking ME for advice! That's scary. But at some point you go from being the trainee to the trainer. 

In 44 years plus of teaching, I've done my fair share of mentoring. Webster defines "mentor" as a "wise and trusted guide and adviser." Life is filled with relationships that require us both to be mentored and to mentor. Otherwise, nobody grows and improves. As a result of being trained/mentored at the Y, I am becoming a person who feels comfortable in giving advice to others. Through mentoring we learn how to take what we've been taught and use that knowledge to help someone else. 

If you have been blessed to have mentors in your life, don't ever take them for granted. We humans don't need a set of principles to guide us so much as another person who will show us how to practice what we know -- someone who will stand beside us, believe in us, guide us, and model Christ for us. 

Today, whatever else you do, set a pattern that others will want to follow. Look for opportunities to build into others' lives. We all need others to share our burdens and help us to keep on running OUR race.  

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

The Omnipresence of Christ and Textual Criticism

Did Jesus ever claim to be in heaven and on earth at the same time? See my answer here

Monday, March 28, 2022

Clean Up Day

My Biggest Problem with the Gym

Having fully recovered from Saturday's race, it was back to the gym for me today. What's the worst part about training at the Y? Easy. The socialization trap. I mean, once you've been working out for any length of time, you tend to see the same people over and over again, and it's really hard not to strike up a conversation with them. This morning, for example, Gene and I talked about  horses and Ed and I talked about trucks. Scott and I spent at least 10 minutes talking about whether it's better to work out 3 days a week or 5 days a week. I'm super impressed with the quality of people who show up regularly for their workouts. The New Year's Resolution crowd is long gone. I have nothing but the greatest respect for those who are least TRYING to get into a routine and WANT to make a difference in their health. There is something magical in taking baby steps toward becoming who you want to be. The only certified creep at the gym is Unsolicited Advice Guy who will regale you for 30 minutes with everything you're doing wrong in your workout. That, and the guy who's always on his cell phone with the speaker on. Listen friend, I so don't need to hear the whole conversation. Of course, he's probably thinking, "Do you guys have to be yakking so much about trucks and horses?" For this reason I try really hard not to engage in too much chit chat while I'm at the Y. Seriously, I'm there to get sweaty and stinky. If you're talking, you're probably not getting in a good workout. 

Definitely a FIRST WORLD PROBLEM (wink).  

Peace out. 

Sunday, March 27, 2022

The End of an Era

In 2005, I taught beginning Greek at the Evangelical Theological College in Addis Ababa for 6 weeks during their summer session. Becky had the foresight to have my classes videotaped. 

She hired the best videographers in all of Ethiopia. Their tapes were eventually professionally edited in Dallas and printed in New York City. These we sold since 2006 to help fund our trips to Ethiopia. 

Last week I sent out my last order of DVDs. They will no longer be available for purchase. If you would like to use my videos, they have been available for free on Youtube since last year. But purchasing the DVDS is no longer an option. 

I owe a great deal of gratitude to my wife for arranging these recordings. They are of the highest quality productionwise. I hope they will continue to serve users of my beginning grammar for many years to come.

Thank you, Becky. 

Saturday, March 26, 2022

Charlottesville 10 Miler Race Report

Today's Charlottesville 10 Miler is IN THE BOOKS. 

The next time I won't look at the elevation map. Sheesh. Was this a foot race or a trek to Mount Everest? 

Here I am running about mid-pack and you can see that the runners ahead of me extend far into the distance. Love big races!

The course took us through the University of Virginia (designed by Thomas Jefferson). 

It also went through downtown Charlottesville and its lovely brick-paved pedestrian area. 

Here I have only about a half mile to go. I'm trying to reel in this couple. 

It was a glorious day and a race I will not soon forget. My guess is you've already figured out that I didn't win. Oh well. Maybe next time. But I did get a PR in the 10 Mile distance

The last time I did this was at the Virginia 10 Miler in Lynchburg. 

That was a hot day, however. Today was cold and windy. I think the reason I ran faster was because I just wanted to get warm. 

Let's see ... is there is anything I need to add? This was by far one of the most enjoyable races I've ever been in. Running through the heart of a big city never gets old. My race "strategy" was to simply go out at a comfortable pace, find my rhythm, then settle in and run at that pace for the entire race. I didn't look at my watch once. I didn't need to. I was running completely by FEEL. You have to know your body really well in order to be able to do this. What I'll remember most from this race was the way I was able to maintain the same effort whether going uphill or down. I've been practicing this for the longest time and it's nice to see my training beginning to bear some fruit. The most important thing was to keep moving forward. Hence, this race proved to me once again how much running is like life. 

Thanks for joining me on the journey, guys. 

Friday, March 25, 2022

Word of the Day: Hypaethral

This was me 5 minutes ago. 

You see, if I have the choice of being outdoors or confined inside, I will choose being outside every single time. This includes my trips to Hawaii. 

There's actually a word for people like me. I'm a "hypaethral." 

I first saw this word while reading one of my favorite authors. In his book The Art of the Commonplace, Wendell Berry calls the Bible a "hypaethral book." He says that it is a book "open to the sky. It is best read and understood outdoors, and the farther outdoors the better" (p. 311). Well, I don't know about that. I do know that while I was growing up in Kailua, I could never stay indoors. I went in the house only to eat and sleep. So would you if you had grown up in the most beautiful spot on the planet. I did have to come inside today to replace some fluorescent lights above my kitchen sink. 

Correction: I "tried" to replace them. Even with a ladder, I couldn't balance myself well enough to get the job done. Hmm. I can climb the Alps without the least bit of acrophobia. 

But I can't change a lightbulb in my own home. 

Oh well. Guess that's what kids are for, right? Right now I'm off to the races (literally). 

I know, I know, tomorrow's race is in Charlottesville. But the closest hotel I could find was in Richmond. The hotels in Charlottesville were TOTALLY BOOKED. Told you it was a huge event. That's fine. CV is only an hour from Richmond. Race starts at 7:15 in the morning. 

So it's "On to Richmond." My mouth is already watering for Olive Garden grub. A HUGE thanks to the Lord for making all of this possible. God willing, look for a race report soon. 

Thursday, March 24, 2022


Just did 1 hour of speedwork on the track. The quick leg-turnover on a hard surface is what's called RUNNING. 

Even though it hurts, it shakes things up and brings an element of variety to an otherwise monotonous training program. About halfway through my run, the local high school track team showed up. What fun! The point is, whether I or they, the excitement everyone has during training can be as exciting as the race itself. My running, at heart, is therefore a very patriotic act. I mean, how much more American can you get than being an inspiration for your local track team??? 

My Half Marathon PR

Okay, I have officially signed up for my first half of the year. 

Hmm. A race sponsored by a hospital. Not a good sign. 

I've observed that runners are more prone to believe they can do something if they commit to it with their hard-earned money. This theory holds true in my case as well. You may think that this post is thinly-veiled bragging. I can't believe that's what you thought. What I actually mean to say is that if a guy as inept at running as me can participate in a race, so can you. From me signing up for a race, I want you to find the inspiration to join the gym or maybe just go for a walk. Incidentally, I got my half marathon PR (Personal Record) at Petersburg a couple of years back. I realize that no one cares that much about my running to want to know my race times, but just in case you're a runner, I'll give it to you anyway: 2:27. According to this chart, the average half marathon time for my age and gender is 2:43 -- which confirms my status as a very average runner. But, at the end of the day (the most hackneyed phrase in the English language!), just because you fail to PR a race doesn't mean you're a failure. Maybe you're like me -- getting older and slower as the years go by. 

I can honestly say that most races I do are just for fun. With others, I have specific time goals. But when I get to the starting line and the gun goes off, all bets are off! 

The Unfortunate Laicization of God's People

We will never recover the ministry of the "laity" as long as we consider them to be institutional maintenance men and women. Conversely, nearly all lay people are magnetically attracted to the ordained clergy and have become laicized as a result. We are drowning in our subjectivity and have abandoned the goal of objective exegesis. The church is all of God's people in ministry but we have loved our traditions to the point of idolatry. This is not a new doctrine but the repristination of the early church. Until the day I die I will seek to enlist people (mostly "lay" people) for Christ's mission on every continent. 

The Miracle of Spring

While driving through southern Virginia this morning I was listening (as I often do) to horticulture podcasts. That's when I saw this field. 

I could not believe how green it was. I think the whole earth is ready for spring. I know our fields are. It will be haying season before you know it. Spring is an annual reminder of what awaits the believer. The Coming of Christ will be as dramatic as watching green grass appear in brown fields, or as watching new leaves sprout from barren branches. We will stand face to face with our Savior, and the long-awaited Day will finally have arrived. 

New life is coming! 

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Back from the Gym

My training is coming along nicely, thanks for asking. I am working out 6 days a week. I don't know if I'm making any real progress but at least I am moving and not sitting on my duff all day long. Today, as per usual, I listened to classic hymns of the church played on the pipe organ. I'm not a high churchman. However, cathedrals and organ music lift me higher than any contemporary church music or parochial clergy could. This is all my soul needs. I love hymns because I grew up in the church and all my childhood days we sang them. Even now, when I pray, I sing hymns. Modern hymnals have devastated that treasure trove by rewording and even reharmonizing many of them (disastrously so!). Too bad.

Today I decided to wear my Chicago Marathon singlet to the Y. 

I LOVED that marathon. It was an amazing experience. A top notch event. I wonder if I will ever run it again. I hope so. 

In my "corral" before the start of the Chicago Marathon. A corral is a place where runners wait before the race. In a big race like Chicago, there are many corrals. Runners are segregated by their expected finish time. Fast runners go out first. Me-type runners go out later. 

Now what? Since it's raining outside I guess I will deep clean the kitchen and mop the floors. I've been procrastinating long enough on these projects. 

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

NEW Race This Saturday!

Before I go off the deep-end on something unrelated to running, here's the scoop on this weekend's race. It's called the Charlottesville 10 Miler and this will be my first time running this event. I am VERY excited. I love running the Virginia 10-Miler in Lynchburg every year and, frankly, didn't even know until today that Charlottesville had a race of the same distance. I'll say this about myself: I love competition. Who doesn't? This little habit of mine, i.e., wanting/needing to be challenged, is probably the single most important reason why I sign up for these races. And honestly, this is a huge event with almost 2,000 participants in it, and I really miss races of this size. You get the picture. The bigger the better when it comes to races, and that includes the Chicago Marathon that had 40,000 runners in it the year I ran it. 

The good news is that the weather will be clear and dry this Saturday. The bad news is that the course is hilly, but what else would you expect for the Virginia Piedmont, right? It's all good. 

I'm signing off for now to get some more yard work done before the rains come mid-week. There's so much to be grateful for these days, so let's all take a moment to remember that -- even if we're having a bad day. I'm grateful not to be living in a war zone, for beautiful sunrises and sunsets, for my job and my family, and for this amazing spring day. Be sure to tell God what you're grateful for. He's the cause of it all.

Monday, March 21, 2022

My Thanks

To Hendrickson Publishers for sending me a copy of this new book:

Yes, I like it!

Easy Versus Hard

I'm taking a break from yard work to review tonight's Greek lesson. 

It's an easy chapter, the reason being that last's week chapter was a very difficult one. I always try and balance hard chapters with easy ones. The fact is that studying can wear us down after a while. Walking that fine line between doing too much and doing too little is always a piece of art. I'm no expert at this by any means. But I'm getting better at it. 

Sunday, March 20, 2022

A Wonderful Day Comes to an End

The Bach recital tonight at Duke was, in a word, magnificent. In two words, absolutely magnificent. The organist was in the zone for 60 straight minutes. To say that he is extraordinarily skilled is an understatement. And to say that Bach was a great composer would be insufficient. I simply don't know how music can be so perfect. And to think -- God allows me to live within an hour drive of the Duke Chapel. 

If you are blessed enough to hear Bach played in person, it's an unbelievable physical experience. You can literally feel the vibrations in your bones. It gives me goosebumps every time. And the music was performed on such an amazingly beautiful instrument (the Renthrop organ). 

Just imagine what it would have been like hearing this music performed for the first time by Bach himself. There won't ever be anyone like him ever again. Afterwards I enjoyed some doro wat in memory of my sweetheart at an Ethiopian restaurant in Durham. It was delicious and fun to eat. Absolutely love that dish. 

Thus comes to an end a wonderful day. This afternoon, as I was reading my Bible on the front lawn, I experienced a profoundly intimate moment with the Lord. I'm not sure how to describe it. But all of a sudden the alabaster flask was open and I was washing the Savior's feet with my tears. When God said to Moses, "I am that I am," he was reminding Moses that the important matter is not who Moses is but who God is. Like Moses, too often I look at my own inadequacy instead of at God's all-sufficiency. The big issue is not who we are but who he is. And my business is to glorify him and enjoy him forever. 

Dance with him, my friend, dance with him until your feet are aching, sing until you're hoarse. Pour out the perfume of your praise upon his head. No one else is worthy of such extravagant devotion, love, and sacrifice. 

Talk to you tomorrow. 

Dear Pastor

Please do not use Greek from the pulpit today. People aren't even faintly interested in the aorist passive imperative. They want to know two things: this is what the text says, and this is what it is telling us we must do. Never say, "The word in the Greek means ...." Greek words do not have a meaning. Greek words have meanings, only one of which is its semantic contribution to any passage in which it occurs. I recently heard someone say that the Greek word for preaching means "to announce the rules." This is both incorrect and unhelpful. Never forget that the New Testament was written in the language of the people. Strive to make the greatest book in the world understandable to plain people. Using simple, everyday English will remind your hearers that the New Testament was meant for the plowboy (William Tyndale). 

Speak emancipating truth in a way that all can understand, and we will thank you for it. 

It's a Bad Idea to Look in the Rearview Mirror

It's a lie. It's a lie that when you have reached your goals you will be satisfied. That as soon as you have amassed a certain number of accomplishments in life -- in a prof's case, these might include a solid publishing record, acceptance by the scholarly guild, obvious success in the classroom -- you will want to hang it up and do nothing but think about your past accomplishments. Nothing could be further from the truth. God has hardwired us to keep turning the doorknob. Yesterday's accomplishments matter but not as much as tomorrow's aspirations. The real source of satisfaction in life comes from becoming a better person tomorrow than you were yesterday. 

I have never been content to be a spectator in life and I don't plan on becoming one now. With a big year of running and climbing planned, it's time to push the limits again -- to live, to love, to grow, to risk. To me, looking back on my career will always be fulfilling. But there's something about daring to dream about what life could be that satisfies a deep need in my heart. 

Forward and upward. 

Saturday, March 19, 2022

Tomorrow's Organ Concert at Duke

Here's the program for tomorrow's organ concert at Duke Chapel. 

As you can see, Bach rocks! Bach was a consummate genius. I can't wait to hear the last piece on the program. Bach's Prelude and Fugue in B Minor is probably my favorite Bach organ composition. The footwork! How do organists do it? Hearing the triumphant B Major chord with the crucial D# at the very end of the piece will be heavenlike. Kudos to Duke Chapel for hosting these performances. From deep down, I thank you! 

Ella's Race 10K Report

It has been a perfect morning here in Raleigh. I got up early and headed to the 10K on Falls of the Neuse Rd. I just about died when I saw the elevation chart. 

But it's Raleigh, right? Off we went to give cancer a swift kick in the pants. 

Here's a pic of moi trudging up the last incline, just to show you the beautiful neighborhood we were running in. 

Despite all the ups and downs, I was happy with my finish time. It was a tough course. 

Now I'm sitting here in my Wake Forest office. 

I'm killing time because I need to go to the bike shop and it's not open yet. And then it's back to the farm. I'm signing off for now because I want to finish a chapter on Latin verbs before I hit up The Bike Guy

Have a lovely weekend.

P.S. I SO appreciate these cub scouts being out there today, What would we do without these aid station volunteers? THANK YOU!!!

Friday, March 18, 2022

Have a Triathlon Coming Up!

Hey folks. Happy Friday. Any big weekend plans?

It's only 3 months until my first triathlon of 2022.

Now I am faced with the reality that I'm behind on my swimming and biking training. So today I grabbed the bike and drove to that part of the Tobacco Heritage Trail that runs between LaCrosse and Brodnax, VA. 

The weather couldn't have been nicer for cycling. 

I managed to crank out two 10-mile sprints on my bike. 

Overall, I had an average heart rate of 102 bpm, and seeing that this is the first time I've been sprinting on my bike in a while, I'm good with that. 

So there you have it. I'm going to "cycle" this training into my monthly routine between now and the tri in June. 

See ya!