Thursday, June 30, 2022

Off to Pennsylvania

Well, I'm off for a few days of vacation in Gettysburg. I may take a few pictures while I'm there (wink). Where are we in terms of the battle? "June came to an end." Thus writes Kent Masterson Brown in his book Meade at Gettysburg: A Study in Command. Exactly 159 years ago today (the last day of June, 1863), Meade's First Corps was only a few miles from Gettysburg. Most of his other Corps were a day's march away. Meade was now preoccupied with locating the enemy and determining his intentions. Would he continue to march toward Harrisburg? Or would he concentrate at Gettysburg? Urgent requests poured into the White House asking Lincoln to place George McClellan in command of the Army. Few had confidence at all that Meade's army could defeat, much less block, what they were convinced was Lee's drive to conquer Harrisburg, Baltimore, and Washington. 

On this day in 1863, George Gordon Meade was on the cusp of either fame or infamy. He found a moment to write his wife Margaret. "All is going on well," he said. "Nevertheless, I am much oppressed with a sense of responsibility and the magnitude of the great interests entrusted to me." He closed his brief letter by adding: "Pray for me and beseech our heavenly Father to permit me to be an instrument to save my country and advance a just cause."

Let us go to Gettysburg and see how Meade fared. 

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Two Relaxing Hours!

It takes me two hours to mow the grass. Two of the most relaxing hours in my week!

I see the trees have begun to produce apples. Apple picking season in Virginia usually starts in August and continues through October. 

And the blueberries are ripening -- which means vanilla ice cream with berries for dessert! 

I imagine this is what life was like before the internet -- away from the stresses of the modern world, a world revolving instead around weather and family. I so admire the Amish. They live off the land and don't take a penny from the government. 

I love my farm so much. It's awesome. 

Making Do With What Ya Have

Today I made a sandwich for lunch. Look at the bread. Sad. 

I miss Swiss bread. Bread is a huge part of Swiss Culture. 

Swiss people who live in the U.S. tell me the food they miss the most is the bread. If you want German speakers to talk about something passionately, ask them what the end part of a loaf of bread should be called. Switzerland is famous for doing lots of things well -- chocolate, cheese, fondue -- but I think Switzerland has the best bread in the world. My favorite is Zopf -- a rich, buttery bread cut into thick slices and served with butter and jam. I ate this for breakfast every day in Zermatt.

German-speaking Europe has about 3,000 types of bread. Sadly, the closest German bakery to my farm is in Durham. 

Ya make do with what ya have. 😂

A Note on My Current Book Project

In my opinion, standpoint epistemology is postmodern nonsense. You cannot establish what is true based on identity. If you try, you end up denying absolute truth. It's just a snake eating its own tail. Sure, you can use it to deconstruct the world. But what then? You're left with nothing but dust and ashes. You would think that "educated" academics would understand this. 

This is not to deny that we all approach Scripture with hermeneutical lenses so to speak. One's experiences do shape one's beliefs. But there is objective truth and it is available to us all. Regardless of whether I am teaching in China (13 trips), Korea (6 trips), Ethiopia (17 trips), Ukraine (3 trips), Armenia (3 trips), etc., I teach the same hermeneutical approach to the sacred text. Identity has nothing to do with this. Truth is not whatever you say it is. Any claim that states that I can't question your interpretation of the Bible isn't scientific. It's ideological dogma. When I was studying in Basel, I would often get into deep theological discussions with my fellow doctoral students, many of whom were from Korea. Although we often disagreed with each other (I never did become a Barthian), none of us would ever have denied there was such a thing as objective truth. "My" truth. What's next? My bias? My insults? My prejudice? Truth is objective and empirical in nature. Even when we're captives to the paradigms from which we operate, this doesn't mean that any old interpretation goes. 

All this and more I hope to discuss in some detail in a book I'm currently writing on New Testament interpretation. I believe there is a hunger among this generation to recover the practice of grammatical-historical interpretation. Despite all the confident and boisterous pronouncements that traditional hermeneutics is dead, the time-tested principles of biblical hermeneutics quietly refuse to disappear. 

Thanks be to God.

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Perfect Summer Evening

Persistence -- and Flexibility

Last Saturday night I ran until way in the morning on Sunday. The stars were amazing. It's often in the darkest skies that we see the brightest stars. The race's pain pushed me into a dark space of suffering that helped me see the obvious: That the solid rock pillar of my life is my Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. He helps me reach my goals -- my summits, my finish lines, my dreams as an academic and family man. Being in a race enables us to see the obvious and what's important. But sometimes, to appreciate things, we need to suffer, which forces us to be present in a world that requires us to be continually ahead of the curve. 

Slow down.

Be present.


I also race for my family, to set an example for my children and grandchildren of determination, dedication, and discipline. We can do anything, and pain is a given when one chooses the difficult path that brings long-term rewards. This has given me the strength to push through, and I tell myself that unless I'm injured I cannot stop. I will not stop.

This summer I will miss seeing Zermatt again, this most beautiful postcard village at the base of the Matterhorn and the Gornergrat, two of my favorite places on earth. The last time I was there I walked away with great memories and lessons from this journey into the Swiss Alps. I look forward to the next challenge, which is just over the horizon. 

Overcoming adversity is a great trait to develop, and running and climbing gives that to you. What a gift we have as endurance athletes to practice persistence and flexibility all the time. Good things come to those who wait -- an old adage that is a secret strategy for success in the 21st century, a century that is defined by instant gratification, especially on social media. You need to train yourself to overcome those anxieties and doubts in your life. Change of plans -- it's all part of life. Enter not into the day without a flexible attitude. The ability to remain flexible is truly a great gift to possess. 

I hope this daily blog helps to bring you some perspective on what it takes to run your race with persistence and flexibility, to the glory of God. 

Seminary Ridge Museum Talks in Gettysburg

This weekend marks the 159th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg. The Seminary Ridge Museum and Education Center will be commemorating this anniversary by holding a series of talks (free to the public) from Thursday, June 30 to Sunday, July 3. 

These include:

  • A Thousand May Fall (Book Talk and Signing by author Brian Jordan) -- Thursday at 5:00 pm
  • Buford Meets Reynolds -- Friday at 9:30 am
  • Creating the Seminary Hospital -- Friday at 10:30 am
  • Building the Seminary Barricade -- Friday at 11:30 am
  • The Final Attack: July 1, 1863 -- Friday at 3:00 pm
  • Outdoor Screening of the Film Gettysburg -- Friday at 8:00 pm
  • The Seminary in the Battle (Walking Tour) -- Saturday at 2:00 pm
  • The 21st Pennsylvania Cavalry (Book Talk and Signing by Britt Isenberg) -- Sunday at 11:30 am

I hope to be at several of these events and am looking forward to purchasing both books -- the first an in-depth analysis of the 107th Ohio during the 3-day battle, and the second about a cavalry unit that was forged during the battle and that remained in United States service until the end of the war. Of course, Mr. G's Ice Cream Shop is also on my itinerary. 



Latin: Ex ("out of" or "away from" ) + manus ("hand").

Literally: "Away from the hand."

Meaning: "Beyond reach." 

My decision has been made. It's all about discernment. Am I strong enough to climb the Allalinhorn in the Alps? And my answer is:

No. Not yet.

Yes, I've put off my trip to Zermatt for another year. I'm not where I want to be in terms of upper body strength. 

By next summer I will have been lifting for a year. Hopefully, I'll feel ready then. 

In your life, do you ever have a goal that turns out to be eminus, at least for now? The curveballs in this life are real. We MUST roll with the punches. But life moves on, just like in running. We march on, we work harder, we love each other. We never lose hope. There is always another day to fight the battle. 

Life can be hard at times but we need to focus on the good -- not the easy. When disappointment hits you, think back to all the good that has happened in your life. That will put things in perspective.

God bless,


Monday, June 27, 2022

The Run-Walk Method (with Thanks to Jeff Galloway)

Marathoner and author Jeff Galloway -- Galloway's Book on Running is perhaps his best known work -- has run in well over 150 marathons. His favorite? Not his personal record 2:16. His most treasured marathon was his slowest. He ran with his father (age 75) at the Boston Marathon in 5:59. His dad quips that if his son hadn't been there to slow him down, he'd have run much faster.

Some runners run to compete. But many of us are in it for the fun. Our focus is not on winning a marathon but on finishing it. 

We're not even trying to win our age group. We're there mostly for the enjoyment, the companionship, and the achievement. And for many of us, the walk break is our secret weapon. We have Jeff Galloway to thank for that. Before long, your legs and lungs are accustomed to running. Running becomes second nature to you, like a walk around the block. The walking segment allows you to stay on your feet for anything from 20 minutes to as long as you like.

Thanks, Jeff, for all you've done for the sport. Don't be a quitter, my friend. Be a persist-er. 

Attending a Galloway running seminar before the Tobacco Road Marathon in Cary, NC.

Sunday, June 26, 2022

Wedding Day in Raleigh

Today my niece was married.

The venue was a beautiful private home in Raleigh. 

Hope's grandmother blessed us with a flute solo to start things off. 

The ceremony itself was both joyful and somber, as all good weddings should be. 

I love being around mom. She reminds me so much of her eldest daughter Becky. 

Congratulations, Hope and Landon. We love you! 

2022 Night Train 50K (32 Mile) Race Report

The race was such a blast! So much fun! The ultramarathon is less a race for PRs and prizes than it is a survival test for all who finish. For most people, an ultra can take well over 6 hours to complete. At some point in the race you wonder, "What in the world am I doing here?" But that's exactly what makes it so gratifying. You don't choose to run an ultra despite its difficulty but because of it. But when you do get through it, that justifies all the time and effort you put into it. 

An ultra doesn't begin at the starting line. It almost ends there. What you do in the race is determined largely by what you did in the months leading up to the race. I view the ultra as the Mount Everest of running. It's a goal that almost every runner dreams of accomplishing at least once. This was my third ultra and my best one by far. It was a victory lap at every step -- and I took 52,981 steps according to my Garmin watch! You can't fake an ultra. It is brutally honest. You get back during the race almost exactly what you invested earlier. It can make proud the humblest of us. And it humbles the proudest of us. There's almost no end to the distance a person can run with perseverance! 

I arrived at the parking lot around 5:00 for a 5:30 race start.

First order of business: Waiting in line to get your race bib.

Then the race director gave us some last minute instructions. 

Look at all these great people. 

I feel so honored to have raced with them. When I arrived at the starting line, the only thing I could think of was, "You are blessed to be here now." Here we are about a mile into the race. We are beginning to feel the heat. 

Thankfully, running over the bridge brought with it a nice breeze that cooled us down a bit. 

Eventually you make your way through downtown Farmville. 

By mile 5, runners have spread out. I followed this couple and their baby for most of the race. 

I'd love to post some more pics, but after the 16 mile turnaround, this is all I could see. 

As planned, I crossed the finish line with a smile on my face. 

The ultra racing population is large and growing larger each year. A sport that begets so much joy is a true and good one. 

Saturday, June 25, 2022

"Who Strives Valiantly"

Running is the simplest of sports. Got shoes? Run. The problem is, you're always looking for the next adventure. Running is a niche sport. Marathoning is a niche among this niche. And I suppose ultramarathoning is one niche beyond that. In the past 10 years, ultramarathoning has grown massively popular where I live. I believe it's because running is not so much a physical challenge as it is a mental one. The brain affects everything. It's not just your hamstrings that will get you to the finish line. It's your thoughts. 

We are better for every race we run in life. Whatever challenge you're facing today, you will be better off for engaging it fullbore. President Theodore Roosevelt put it well:

The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly.

Every race is a new adventure for me. Every mile is a gift from God. I hope you feel the same way wherever you are and whatever you are doing today, my friend. 

Party Time!

My niece is getting married on Sunday.

A good excuse as any for a family celebration. 

Gotta love me some Ethiopian food. 

Books Are In

My copies of Harry Sturz's book have arrived. 

All glory to the Lord Christ. 

Friday, June 24, 2022

That Came Outta Nowhere

I never thought I would live to see this day. So happy for our country, so proud of our judges, and so grateful to God. In 1973, I was 21 years old. I couldn't believe that abortion was now legal. What a historic day today is. The war isn't over but the battle is won. Praise God. He indeed listens to our prayers. We have a long way to go but I'm grateful that we at least got here. 

Do the Hard Thing

I just gave my students their final in Greek. I thanked them for tackling a hard thing. Tomorrow, I will run a 32-mile race. As far as I'm concerned, every person who finishes the race, regardless of whether they finished first or last, is a winner. I have one goal in running the race: to enjoy myself and cross the finish line with a smile on my face, giving glory to God.

Do the hard thing, my friend. You will never regret it. 

Learning a "Useless" Language ...

... can actually be very useful. In a world sadly driven by pragmatism, you do NOT have to have a "practical" reason for learning a foreign language. A foreign language will enrich your life and sharpen your mind. These two benefits alone make language learning an amazing process. I will never see the world again as I did when I was a monolingual American. 

Learning a "useless" language can be very useful indeed. It is a priceless experience. 


"F.E.A.R. has two meanings. Forget Everything and Run, or Face Everything and Rise. The choice is yours." -- Zig Ziglar. 

Thursday, June 23, 2022

The Future of Theological Education

Excellent article here:

Seminaries in Crisis: A Challenge and an Opportunity. 

The author -- who is president of Knox Seminary -- suggests a "third way" between a physical classroom and a computer screen. What do you think? 

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Do You Mix Languages?

From today's vocab:

You will notice that the verb apokrinomai ("I answer") takes its object in the dative case instead of the to-be-expected accusative case. The idea is "I give an answer [to you]." 

In 1980, when I arrived in Basel to study under Prof. Bo Reicke, I made a beeline for the university library to meet him. Someone had told me he was in the stacks. I eventually found him and we exchanged pleasantries (all in German, of course). Suddenly he told me he was going out for a cup of coffee. I asked him, "Darf ich Ihnen begleiten?" He smiled at me and said, "Darf ich Sie begleiten?" and off we went for coffee. 

The good professor had gently corrected me, as he should have. I had used the dative case with the verb begleiten ("accompany"), but German uses the accusative. Later, as I pondered my mistake, I realized that although I was speaking in German, I was thinking in Greek, in which the verb "accompany" (akoloutheo) takes the dative case instead of the accusative. 

Does that ever happen to you? Do you catch yourself, say, using a Spanish word when you thought you were speaking French? I am currently teaching myself Spanish through German, and I find I have a strong tendency to mix up "alt" in German with "alto" in Spanish. The former means "old," while the latter means "tall." Thankfully, I have never yet said "Ich quiero"!!! I am definitely not fluent in Ecclesiastical Latin, but I find myself feeling like an early church father whenever I pray in Latin. 

Kudos to you true polyglots out there. I don't know how you do it! 

Studying Greek Is Hard

But by knowing it's hard, it becomes less hard. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Race Briefing for This Weekend's 50K

The race director (RD) for this weekend's 50K (= 31-mile) trail race just gave an hour and a half briefing on Facebook. 

You know, stuff like ... what to do if you get caught out during a thunderstorm, or if you see a bear. (In the past two years, black bears have been seen on the course during the race.) 

So far, the 5K has 34 entrants, while the half marathon has 129 and the 50K a whopping 150. There are even five 50K runners who are over 70. What in the world are they thinking???

One thing I learned during today's briefing is that there will be a special award for the LAST PLACE finisher. I may win it without even trying. I plan on keeping my overall pace pretty slow and to take plenty of walk breaks. I feel incredible cardio-wise but being on one's feet for 8 hours is going to be a challenge, to put it mildly. Thankfully, the RD said the aid stations will have plenty of PBJs and Pepsi. I hear one aid station will even have pizza. Oh, yeah. 

I'm really looking forward to this race. 

Monday, June 20, 2022

All in a Day's Work

It was a GREAT day today. After teaching, I got in a workout at the Y. Then this evening I got in a 5 mile run. 

The day was perfect for being outdoors. 

All in a day's work. 

Looking forward to my 1.5 hour sports massage tomorrow. 😊 

What Does "Discipling" Look Like?

Want to see what "discipling" looks like? Look no further than this YouTube of the great Alex Honnold as he leads another, less-experienced climber up a rock face. 

Notice the characteristics of discipling:

  • Alex leads him by example.
  • He constantly encourages him.
  • He is always by his side. 
  • He knows just what to say and when to say it.
  • He doesn't ask him to do anything he hasn't already done himself.

What if you spent your entire life achieving and never shared your wisdom with someone else? Alex loves his sport, but I get the sense that he also loves seeing others succeed at it too. Great lessons here on mentoring/discipling/coaching. But be forewarned: it's a nailbiter! 

Sunday, June 19, 2022

We All Need Toughness

Hello, friends. I hope you and your family are well and enjoying this spring-like day. And "Happy Father's Day" to all you dads out there. I hope your day has been very special.

As I sit here writing this, my quads are burning. Yesterday, as a Father's Day present, I gave myself the gift of climbing to the top of Tinker Cliffs in the George Washington and Jefferson National Forest between Roanoke and Covington, VA. It was a lot harder than I thought it would be. When I got to the parking lot, it was almost full. I think I got the next-to-the-last spot. 

Then the climb began. The ascent was relentless. Patience was the word of the day. 

It was a never-ending trek over rocks and roots. 

And did I mention that I HATE stairs? 

Finally, you reach a saddle in the mountain on the AT. Only a half mile to go but it's all uphill. 

Finally you reach the summit and its breathtaking vistas. 

It was only a short rock scramble to the top of the cliffs. I am proud of that accomplishment! 

I meditated on the beauty of God's creation and then headed down. Arriving at the parking lot, I was wasted. I hurt a lot and the heat was about to get to me. 

To give you some perspective, my pace was only about 2 miles per hour. Like I said, hiking a really challenging trail takes patience. I'm not here to tell you how rocky and steep the trail was. You have to be there and experience it firsthand to really understand how tough it was. 

But when you do something hard and you are finally done, there is no feeling like it in the world. It is an outpouring of emotion, relief, and gratitude to the One who made it possible. After all, easy is not the point or goal of life. I so badly want my students to understand that. Doing hard things will make you tougher. We need that toughness on a hike, yes, but also in our daily lives and in our parenting. 

Hope you had some great adventures this weekend!