Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Good Gifts

I have to tell you -- it's been a great day. I taught my class in the Forest of Wake then headed home for lunch. Then I worked out at the Y, performing the usual exercises (12 reps, 3 sets each):

  • Bench press
  • Barbell curl
  • Lat pull
  • Dumbbell bicep curl
  • Single arm dumbbell row
  • Dumbbell lateral raise
  • EZ bar upright row

Then it was off to the track to get in a mid-day (as in the hottest part of the day) 3 mile run as I prepare for the two big races I have this month:

  • Saturday, June 12: UNC Health Triathlon
  • Saturday, June 25: Night Train 50K Trail Race

Both races are intended to help me celebrate my 70th birthday on June 9. I have to admit that I love the flexibility of my schedule and being able to perspire without anyone caring, but I also love to plan for the day and then see if I was able to accomplish all the goals I set out for myself when the day started. No, exercise does not define who I am, but it is a big part of my life and a really important part of who I am. I hope we can all remember the many good gifts and blessings we've got and to remember to thank the One who makes them all possible. 

That's all I've got for now.

We Stop

At all geese crossings. 

Monday, May 30, 2022

Technology Is Great, But ....

As I talk with my friends, colleagues, and fellow teachers in various institutions of higher education, we all seem to agree on one thing: enrollment is way down in all of our on-campus courses. On the other hand, online classes are booming. To me, this is a great irony. Young people today are more "connected" than at any other time in human history, but I don't think we can conclude from this that such "connectivity" is a superior alternative to face-to-face relationships. From everything I've read on this subject as a professional educator, I've consistently found that just because students have more technology doesn't mean they are happier or better off. Being a part of an in-person community is still crucial to one's mental health and wellbeing. That's because we are social beings, made to live in community. Which is one reason I'm so blessed to be able to look back and say that, for the great majority of my 45 years of teaching, my in-person classes were usually full and hopefully provided the kind of community that young people were desperately seeking and, I believe, are still seeking. In my opinion, nothing else can provide a deep sense of connectedness and belonging. 

Rose Bushes and Memories

Memories. They're such a big part of life, aren't they? Today I've been working outdoors all day. 

The weather has been ideal for it. 

As I worked, I thought about Becky every time I went past one of her rose bushes. One of my dearest and most fond memories of the farm is the way Becky would tend to her Burji rose bush. 

This bush is from a plant her mother planted in Burji, Ethiopia when Becky was a child. 

Somehow we were able to plant an offshoot of it here at Rosewood Farm. These roses remind me of the seasons of life, that life goes through stages, all planned by God. Here's another one of my favorite rose bushes. 

This one Becky planted when we built our home, Bradford Hall. I have fond memories of her carefully pruning this bush. I can't tell you how many times these roses graced our dining room table. Today I still cut them and place them in a vase. 

For these memories I am incredibly grateful. There are many good memories. And more to come as I continue to appreciate the work Bec did to make this farm such an enjoyable and peaceful place to live. She may be gone but she is still very much here. She continues through those who loved her and anyone who knew her. 

It Will Feel Good

Sometimes things don't go according to plan. Yesterday after church I drove to the Roanoke River Greenway to get in a 30 mile bike ride. 

This was my first time on this trail and I was very impressed with it. 

However, after only 4 miles my ride came to a rather abrupt halt because part of the trail had been washed out by the recent flooding we had in Virginia. 

So what? There will be other biking trails to conquer. The reason I wanted to get in a good long ride yesterday was because my first of three summer triathlons will take place in only two weeks, just in time for my birthday. 

Because of Covid, it's been a three year hiatus since I've done a tri and I can hardly remember how the race goes. Let's see, swimming: With all the kicking and elbowing that takes place in the pool, the main goal is pretty much not drowning. The bike portion is always challenging for me. Seems like every person I pass in the pool ends up passing me during the bike. I am a good swimmer but a mediocre (at best) cyclist. (You don't always have to be an overachiever, right?) As for the run, you do okay though when you first get off your bike and start your run your legs feel like lead. Needless to say, after about a mile or so you find your stride and are feeling pretty good. The neat thing about these tris (sponsored by UNC Health) is that this is a first time triathlon for a lot of people who do this race. If there's one piece of advice I have for them it would be: Make sure you get to the start area early.  Making sure that your kit is set up for the transitions is no joke. 

To be honest, I miss my friend the triathlon. Hopefully we will get reacquainted in a couple of weeks. It will feel good to do something different. 

Sunday, May 29, 2022

Happy Ascension Sunday!

I almost forgot to wish you a happy Ascension Sunday celebrating the return of Jesus to his Father. Of course, Jesus never leaves his followers. He continues to be present with us though in a more profound way. He is now within us to help us spread his message in word and deed. There is much land to be possessed here and now. Keep pressing toward the mark. We are not to postpone to the return of Christ what can be achieved in this present life. 

We Never Truly Know

"The days are long but the years are short." Some days feel tortuously long. After a tragedy, you stop and wonder, "I can't believe it." The loss of anyone who is dear to us is heart wrenching. Today there is an indescribable void in homes, families, churches, schools, communities, everywhere. People are trying to make sense of it all. Our hearts break for the families. As a grandparent, we fear it could have been our grandkids. 

It's often during times of utter tragedy that our hearts as Americans feel the deepest human connection. We've heard it a million times, "Don't take anything for granted." The mystery of life is that it has good and bad, ebb and flow, highs and lows. The one thing we can count on is that there will always be change. No one goes through life unscathed. When tragedy strikes, life is forever changed. I think, there but for the grace of God go I. 

What to do? 

Count your blessings and your gifts constantly. Have goals that are bigger than yourself. Do what you can to support the grieving. We need each others' prayers to get through this. Sharing sorrow and grief makes us all closer. We realize we are more alike than different. Do not think that Jesus is absent or oblivious to our struggles. 

Desperate times have a way of reminding us of what's important. Try to make things right if they are not right. Truly know that small things can make a gigantic difference. Let's deal with sorrow and loss the best we can while continuing to make efforts to make this world a better and safer place. Everything, and I mean everything, has risk. Still, you have to live your life and not be consumed by your fears. Love every minute of the precious people in your life. Because we never know. We never truly know. 

Peace, now more than ever.


Saturday, May 28, 2022

Decision Time

Good morning, friends. No matter how we celebrate Memorial Day weekend, may we remember that freedom is a precious gift. Thanks be to God for those who defend it. 

This morning, after two wonderful hours of Bible reading, meditation, prayer, and journaling, I got in a workout at the Y before heading off to get some exercise at a local State Park:

It had been 22 years since I last visited this venue. It was a perfect day for a run. 

During my workout today I had a lot to think about. 

Yes, it's decision time. Shall I attempt to climb the Allalinhorn in Switzerland this August or not? 

Not always, but sometimes, I can be paralyzed by decision-making, especially when it involves a lot of financial resources. My mountain guide alone will cost me $640 per day. Bottom line: If I don't feel like I am in good enough shape, I won't go, at least not this year. 

Whenever we humans make a decision, we are doing our best based on the information we have at hand. No major decision is ever easy. But, it is important to make them wisely. 

What to do? I don't know yet. But I can't postpone the decision forever. The Lord will show me :-)  

Friday, May 27, 2022

Undeniable Truth

Peter Hitchens is BRILLIANT. 

Hitting the Wall in the Marathon and in Your Greek Studies

It's not a myth. I'm talking about the famous "wall" you hit during a marathon race. You encounter it normally around mile 20 or 21. It's been my experience in almost every single one of the 18 marathons I've run to this date. The wall is not a myth. And it hurts. It really hurts. 

This means that you have to mentally prepare yourself for it. Ya gotta be ready for it so that you can push through it and finish well. 

Well, this summer my students have been running a marathon of their own as they navigate the 26 chapters of my beginning grammar. Today we will be in "mile" 22. 

My message to them?

  • It's okay to hit the wall.
  • It's okay to feel tired.
  • It's okay to feel some pain.
  • It's okay to slow down a bit.
  • It's okay to rest.

But it's NOT okay to quit unless you absolutely have to.

I think the wall is related more to mental preparation than to anything else. After my first marathon in Cincinnati, I realized I could push through the discomfort and fatigue. You just have to prepare for discomfort and be ready to fight.

Thus far my students are absolutely nailing their race. I could not be prouder of them. Only one more week to go and they will have learned everything they need to know in order to be able to translate their Greek New Testaments. What a prize. 

Keep your eyes on the goal, my friends!

Thursday, May 26, 2022

Upcoming Apologetics Conference

 So this week I asked my Greek students to read a short little book on textual criticism. 

There's no point in pretending that the book is anything but the briefest of introductions to an extremely important topic. I really don't recommend it to anybody unless you're really having a very hard time falling asleep. Much better would be to attend if possible a discussion of such matters in person, and this very thing you can do this fall at the Clearview Apologetics Conference, in which we will take up the question, "Can we truly recover the 'original text' of the New Testament?" Details may be found here. Hope to see you there. 

Right Here, Right Now

What a wonderful day and age in which to be living. We have abundant opportunities to eat well, to breathe clean air, to exercise and be active. This morning I enjoyed an hour workout at the local Y here in Wake Forest. Then this afternoon I got in a 4 mile run at the local park that now boasts this new civic center. 

Raleigh ranks as the healthiest city in North Carolina and is number 38 nationwide. In 2021 it was ranked number 12 as the best place to live in America. What a blessing I so often take for granted. 

While running I was thinking about the state of the nation and the state of the church and how this is a day and age that calls for tremendous courage. To honor and love someone, even a fellow Christian, doesn't mean that you always have to be in relationship with them. Sometimes one has to detach -- with love. Sometimes the loving thing to do is to close the door. This does not dishonor the relationship. It is to honor it. And it doesn't mean that we don't pray for them. If we really believe in intercessory prayer, we can fast and pray for somebody. We still love them in the truth of Jesus Christ. 

Again, I feel so HONORED and BLESSED and HAPPY to live in this great country of ours. I don't want to live anywhere else. I want to live right here, right now, along with all of you who are living out your faith in the midst of a perverse and corrupt generation and who, despite the tremendous confusion in culture and even in the church, are living wisely and well and are being to faithful to the life Christ calls you to. My simple prayer is this: 

O Father, help us to let Christ into the muck and mire of this world. For only he can pull us out of it. 

Bless you, each one of you. In Christ you have everything you need. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Supper Time

More farm fresh gifts from the fam.

Bok choy and green onions plus some more broccoli. Time to cook me up some stir fry! 

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Yet Another Book Endorsement

This time by Peter Gurry. Dr. Gurry teaches New Testament at Phoenix Seminary. Thank you, Peter!

For years I have searched in vain for an affordable copy of Sturz's work on the Byzantine text. It was an important contribution to the field when written and is still referenced. Its arguments need to be taken seriously especially with the renewed appreciation for the Byzantine text in our day. I am delighted to see this reprint and look forward to reading it. 

Joyner Park Run (for My Sanity)

Been sitting down in my office all day. Not good. Time to run a few miles at Joyner Park. 

I had a rush of gratitude wash over me. It was delish. Hope your week is going well!

Tomorrow in Greek Class: Participles!

Tomorrow is a very big day. We will learn the Greek participle! There are 6,662 participles in the Greek New Testament. Of the 7,941 verses in the New Testament, 4,277 of them contain participles. 1 Cor. 7:30 has 6 of them! Participles affect exegesis in numerous ways, not least in the interpretation of this famous warning passage. 

Can't wait to discuss! 

Bill Warren on Harry Sturz's Book

Bill Warren directs the Center for New Testament Textual Studies at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. We have now received his endorsement of Harry Sturz's forthcoming reprint. 

When considering how the Byzantine text stream should be analyzed within New Testament textual criticism, Harry Sturz is one of the primary advocates for a more balanced weighing of the textual stream, with his work serving as a great primer on the arguments in favor of a thorough weighing of the Byzantine readings. This work likewise serves as a good introduction to the overall views of those who support the Majority text, although Sturz actually calls more for an equal weighing of the different textual streams versus only picking one of the options, even if that means not picking the Majority text reading. His case is against what is often the practice of New Testament textual critics, namely the dismissal of Byzantine readings as secondary. Whether one agrees with Sturz's arguments or not, his call for a fairer evaluation of the Byzantine readings is very appropriate. This is the case especially since the application of the Coherence Based Genealogical Method has shown the wisdom of a fairer evaluation of the Byzantine readings as some of those readings are now being accepted into the modern critical text. 

Thank you, Bill! 

Sunday, May 22, 2022

Marine Corps Historic Half 2022 Race Report

Hey guys! Do you have time for a quick race update? This was the third time I've run the Marine Corps Historic Half Marathon in Colonial Fredericksburg. It was the best ever! If it wasn't clear before how much I love half marathons, I think it will be after this report. With everything else going on in the world these days, I felt extra grateful for this blessing today.

The event kicked off last night with, of course, some carbo loading at a restaurant just south of Fredericksburg. 

It was called "Angela's Italian Restaurant" and I was served by Angela herself. Olive Garden, eat your heart out! Then it was off to the convention center to pick up my race packet and bib. 

To say that excitement was in the air would be a major understatement. Most of us were soooo ready to be back to "quasi-normal" when it came to our race schedules that it isn't even funny. I was up bright and early this morning to get in a warmup before the race. 

The temps were not nearly as bad as I thought they would be, but the humidity was off the charts. I knew then and there it would be a long day. After a while, everyone began to descend upon the starting line. 

I can't give you an exact figure, but there were literally hundreds and hundreds of runners in today's race. Once in place, it was "hurry up and wait." 

Time always seems to drag when you are ancy to get moving! Despite the humidity we all started out faster than I think was very wise. 

It wasn't long before we were dripping wet from head to toe. 

I slowed my pace to accommodate the weather, and before long I had fallen into a relaxed and rhythmic pace along with a couple dozen other runners who were going about as fast as I was. 

This was my view after 6 miles. 

We were still running strong though we were really feeling the humidity. Not to worry -- the Marines to the rescue just in the nick of time!

Before long we were running through Fredericksburg proper. 

The oldest surviving structure in Fredericksburg dates to 1737. It was fun running through the city's 40-block National Historic District. If only we could have stepped into one of its shops and cooled off a bit!

Here's what's called the "Blue Mile." 

It commemorates service men and women who were killed in action. At this point you're probably losing more water in tears than in sweat. The "Blue Mile" ensures that America's military heroes are honored and remembered. Amen!

Next, you ask? Yessiree, the dreaded Hospital Hill. This is where it starts. 

I ended up racing this guy to the top. (He won.) 

After that, there were only a couple more miles to the finish. These two Marines jumped in and paced me to the end. 

You guys were AWESOME! THANK YOU! 

After you cross the finish line, you're met with a bunch of (SEMPER) High (FI)ves! 

Thank you for being out here! 

At this point there was only one thing left to do. Never did a sirloin taste better.

Overall, I had a great race and a reminder that:
  • You can't control the weather but you can control your pace.
  • Not every race has to be a PR.
  • Bad things like Covid happen but they don't last.
  • Starting out too fast is way too easy. 
  • The Marines are awesome.
I can't thank the Lord enough for making all of this possible.