Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Working Out Is Both Effective and Efficient

Recently I was Facetiming with a friend in Georgia who asked me where I found the time to work out at the gym for an hour three days a week -- plus all the other things I'm involved with. In essence, I told him that workouts don't take time as much as they create it. That's the irony of working out. It actually enhances your energy, enabling you to perform better in your personal and professional life. Plus (and I just did the math on this), it requires less than 2 percent of the time you have available every week. 1.78 percent to be exact. 

Quite literally, a workout is not only effective but efficient. 


Masculinity has little to do with athletic ability. It is the capacity to love and to be loved. "What kind of a man are you?" is essentially the same thing as asking "Do you lead with empathy?" 

(Another) Boring Mid-Day Update

I spent the morning doing research for my book, had lunch, then went to the local trail for a midday run. 

Although I'm an experienced runner, I'm still able to make it look like this is the first time I've ever run. Two miles was all I did. Was it optimal? No. Was it better than a V-Shred commercial? Absolutely.

Next stop? Food Lion, where I got the ingredients for a meal I've been craving for days. 

My "secret" recipe for chili? Follow the instructions on the back of the chili mix packet. Easy, see? 

Right now it's time for an hour power nap and then it's back to the books. 

NOTE: There's really no purpose for this blog post other than the fact that I needed a break from my daily routine, which can get kinda boring. Sorry to have to put you through it. 

One Month

In exactly one month I leave for Milwaukee. 

Lord willing I will speak at a nearby seminary and then run the Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon. Only 30 days to finish preparing myself for the race. I'm a big fan of running hard at the right time and resting at the right time in a training block. Marathon training is an incredible journey, especially when you open yourself up to the pain of training and the progress you will make in consistency and patience over the years. I frankly cannot believe how good my legs feel right now. I'm so grateful to God. 

Onward and upward. 

When Your Workout Was Brutal

Brutal, yes, but refreshing. Ready to crank out another chapter on my book. 

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

What? No Plate Lunch?

Who else can vividly remember the disappointment of the moment when you realized that the Mainland doesn't serve dakine Hawaiian plate lunch? 

Rain and More Rain

But not before I finished mowing all the lawns.

And the kids finished getting up several trailers of hay.

That's happened so often. The Lord holds off the rain until just AFTER we finish our work. He is so good to us! 

Falling in Love with Spanish

Who else can vividly remember the first time they heard Spanish and said to themselves, "Man, one day I'd like to speak that language"? 

Newer Is Not Necessarily Better

Do not equate "newer" with "better," whether it means catching up with more "advanced" theories of hermeneutics or adapting moral theology to Marxist insights. 

Time for a Break?

"I really regret taking a break from social media," said nobody ever. 

Farm Day

The kids and I are directing our energies toward the farm today. 

Always something to be done. And the benefits are amazing. 

Thanks be to God. 

Cus b'Cus

Just back from cycling. No, doing a 10 mile sprint at the High Bridge Trail won't make you a great cyclist. 

But with every effort, your chance of improving your triathlon time increases. In Ethiopia we used to say "Cus b'cus" -- "Step by step." 

Progress is always slow but steady work. 

Monday, August 29, 2022

Metzger's Classic Textbook

At my Wake Forest office enjoying rereading a tome I was assigned as a textbook when I was in seminary. Some books will always remain classics. 

Everything Will Be Fine

The process of studying a foreign language is occasionally punctuated with moments of explosive doubt and discouragement. What to do? Expect them, then carry on. Everything will be okay. 

Tough Leadership Fact

Jesus never entrusted leadership in a church to a single individual. We place one pastor/elder/overseer on a pedestal to our own detriment. 

Free Offer

If you can, take only experienced professors in college or seminary. Without an experienced mentor to point out all the open manholes out there, you're likely to break a bone along the way. If you're a pastor who preaches every week, let John Stott teach you. If you need a refresher on how to live the Christian life, let James Packer be your guide. If you want to learn how to reach your culture for Christ, let C. S. Lewis inspire you. If you love theology, seek out Charles Hodge. 

I've helped thousands of men and women of all ages and abilities learn how to read Greek. Could you be next? 

Today and tomorrow I am offering a free copy of my beginning grammar to someone who will commit to using it (along with my free videos) to teach themselves Greek. Simply let me know your intent at If more than one of you writes, I will choose the recipient randomly. 

And to the rest of us: Always be growing. Always strive to become more today than you were yesterday. 

Suffering Cleanses the Soul

From my book They Will Run and Not Grow Weary:

Suffering cleanses the soul. Through suffering we are like the phoenix, reborn. And we will keep being reborn until we can soar no more.

If you want a hard life, always go in for the easy. If you want an easy life, pursue the hard, the slow, and the costly. 

Paul's Quotations and the Authorship of Hebrews

It's really not true that Paul quotes the Old Testament differently from the author of Hebrews. For the evidence, go here

When to Train

If you want to train with some of the most inspiring people in your gym, try going early in the morning. 

Sunday, August 28, 2022

It's So Daily

"I regret getting up every morning and reading my Bible and praying before starting my day," said nobody who's ever done this. 

Why Not You?

Give me just 26 weeks of your time and I'll equip you to read the New Testament in Greek. Learn how here

Don't Fear Strength Training

Don't be afraid of strength training. 

The risks associated with strength training are far smaller than the risks associated with not strength training. 

There's no shame in not achieving your goals immediately. In fact, the "slower" your progress, the more likely it will produce long-terms results. I'm not where I want to be, but I'm 30 pounds lighter than I was a year ago and have more energy today than I did 15 years ago. 

The world desperately needs people who strive to show others what they're capable of and inspire them to try. Be one of them.  

Attending a Conference?

Attending a conference soon? Don't learn merely to accumulate new information. Learn in order to become a different person with a different way of thinking. 

So You've Lost Your Greek

Did life throw your use of Greek out of gear and you're still sputtering? It happens to all of us eventually -- we get married, have kids, start a new job, move to a different city, and everything swiftly unravels. But you can always reassemble yourself. You've done it before, so you can do it again. 

Did Paul Author Hebrews?

What's wrong with the scholarly consensus against the Pauline authorship of Hebrews? My answer to that question is here:

Who Should We Believe?

Too many discernment Youtubers lack credibility. Some even make their living by calling out the errors of others. Believable opinions are most likely to come from people 1) who have successfully accomplished something in life, and 2) who have great explanations of the cause-effect relationships that lead them to their conclusions. Don't grant the right to be heard to people who haven't earned it. 

The Glory of God in Greek

I was up bright and early to grab some coffee at Denny's and to put the final touches on tomorrow's lecture. With chapter 15, we will have learned the entire indicative mood. This is a major milestone for my class and I couldn't be more proud of them. 

They have been taught that Greek has architectural and mathematical precision. 

And why shouldn't it? It was created by God himself, who does all things "decently and in order." I never tire of teaching Greek for in it I see the genius of God. 

Saturday, August 27, 2022

No Need to Impress

From my book Using New Testament Greek in Ministry:

Too often Greek teachers try to turn their seminary courses into a repetition of their doctoral work, just as newly minted Hebrew instructors sometimes read their graduate seminar notes to their classes. Neither teacher has given enough though to the needs and abilities of their students -- they are trying too hard to make their courses intellectually viable to themselves.

Yes, You Have to Study

Who else can vividly remember the moment in college you realized that you can't get good grades without some serious study? 

Ashland Half Marathon 2022 Race Report

On Friday I drove up to Ashland, VA. Since I had some time to kill before checking into my Airbnb, I decided I'd visit the Cold Harbor Battlefield for the first time. 

I especially wanted to see the famous Shelton House. 

18-year old Patrick Henry married Sarah Shelton in its parlor in 1754. The couple soon settled into a nearby 300-acre tract of land called Pine Slash. 

Leaving Richmond I drove a short distance to Ashland, settling into this rural estate. 

My garage apartment had all the amenities one could want, including a large bathroom and a kitchenette. 

I unpacked and then spent the afternoon reading by the pool. 

I slept soundly from 9:00 pm to 4:30 am, got some coffee at Wawa (man, I wish we had these convenience stores down here!), and then arrived at Randolph-Macon College for the 6:30 race. 

You know the routine: get your race bib, then stand in line for the porta-potties. 

For the start, I lined up about 2/3rds of the way to the back. 

I would run with many of these people for the entire 13.1 mile distance. 

At one point I caught up to this running club and they paced me for the last few miles. 

As you can see, I literally ran with a smile the whole way, so lovely was the experience. 

The race seemed over before it even began. 

It seems like fall is already upon us here in the Northern Hemisphere. Today we ran in coolish temps. I sensed an unusual joy among the runners. Post-Covid "normacly" seemed to be back. It's time to get back into the swing of things --  time for classes, for fall sports (I am a huge NFL fan), and for the turning of the leaves. But one thing is the same. You just have to keep on running your race. What literal or metaphorical starting lines do you face this fall? And what's the finish line you'd like to reach? Don't live in the past. Don't obsess on what isn't. Take a good look at where you are, focus on where you want to be, and get going. Because in the end, you can't finish anything you're too afraid to start. 

Thursday, August 25, 2022

Running As an Act of Worship

This weekend the most famous of all trail races will take place in Chamonix, France. It's called the UTMB -- the Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc. The race completely circles its namesake in over 100 miles and with over 32,000 feet of elevation gain. Over 2,300 runners will vie for first place. 

Also this weekend, in the small town of Ashland, Virginia, the Ashland Half Marathon will be run. Only a handful of runners will be competing in this event. Yours truly will be one of them. Tomorrow I will drive up to my Airbnb and then the race kicks off early Saturday morning. There will be only a couple hundred runners and no elevation gain. 

The lesson? Every race is its own reward. Each race frees you to become just a little more from being sedentary. And that's a win for everyone involved. I've never won a single race I've ever competed in, but I've been victorious hundreds of times, even when I came in 23,478th place. Being a Christian isn't simply a goal or destination. It's a way of living life. Consistency is what it's all about. Runners know this well. Consistency simply means not giving up and not giving in. Running, for me, is act of worship. Whenever I run, I rejoice in God's strength, in his faithfulness, in his promises for all of my needs. 

Do you remember the story of the Lost Son in Luke 15, where the father breaks out in a full sprint toward his returning son? Can you imagine how the son felt? Middle Eastern dads normally didn't do 5Ks. Did he run to protect his son? Many think so. The boy had disgraced his father and had brought shame on the entire village. Were the elders about to intercept him and send him back to his pig sty? Can't you just see the father running to his son and embracing him, at the same time telling the elders, "This is my son! I love him! If you tell him to leave, I'm leaving too!"

My friend, if anyone ever makes you feel like you'll never be able to finish the race of life, tell them to get lost. Write a new narrative in your heart. Run your race. You don't have to be fast, just determined. Will you make it? You will. We will. Together. 

On Jordan Peterson

People sometimes ask me what I think of Jordan Peterson. 

I like him. The man's intellect is surpassed only by his courage. I love it when he gets emotional. That's how you know he's real. I suppose the main reason I like him is because he is constantly telling people to embrace responsibility. That's an extremely bold and amazingly true statement to make. I'll just say this: every time I hear Peterson speak, I'm reminded of a famous quote by C. S. Lewis:

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. 

Beautiful Thing, Language Is

Goethe once said that language is the mirror of culture. He's right. That's why learning Hebrew and Greek is so important for all pastors. In every culture, both past and present, language is closely connected to the culture of the people. If we read the Bible without understanding the culture behind it, misunderstanding will result. I speak a couple of foreign languages fairly decently, and when you shift from one to another, your brain and mind shift as well. You start expressing yourself in completely different ways. Congrats to all of you pastors out there who have studied the biblical languages and, more importantly, have kept up with them to the point of actually using them in ministry week in and week out. Every language is unique. Every language has its own universe. In Hawaii, you don't go east or west. You go mauka or makai -- toward the mountains or towards the ocean. Some languages have grammatical gender. So every noun is assigned a gender. The "sun" is feminine in German but masculine in Spanish. The "moon" is the reverse. I find this inordinately fascinating. If you can speak both German and Spanish, your language becomes a bit more flexible and you begin to mix different cultures. Some people have told me that I speak with a different tone of voice when I speak English and when I speak German. This is really amazing because I'm actually totally unaware of it. 

Thank you, again, to all of you who work so hard on acquiring languages. I truly believe that each language we learn can expand our perspective and imagination on a cognitive and even emotional level at times. 

Beautiful thing, language is (Yoda style). 

You Are a Runner

You are a runner because you run.

You don't have to earn a degree to be a runner.

Or apply for a license.

Or pass a test.

Or give an oath.

You just run. That's good enough.


The Logic of Language

One of the things that's so interesting about teaching Greek is dealing with the logic behind that language and any language for that matter. We might call these "archetypal characteristics." Human language has a logic and a pattern to it. We as humans deep down understand this to be true even though we aren't necessarily able to articulate them. But the moment you hear them you think to yourself, "I knew that. I knew that, I just didn't know how to verbalize it." 

In Greek 2 we are at that very exciting point in our study where students are arriving at this critical juncture in their learning. 

Their brains already know how the Greek language works, but they don't have the words to explicate it. And so when people talk to me about what they like most about my writings -- be it on the synoptic problem or the authorship of Hebrews or textual criticism or adolescentism or Greek grammar -- they often say something like this to me: "When you write, it's as if you're telling me things I already know." Even though I taught Markan Priority for years, I knew it was wrong --  instinctively wrong. It was completely counterintuitive to think that our earlier written witness to Jesus' life and ministry was created in Rome in the 60s -- by a non-eyewitness at that. That's just one example of what I am talking about. You adopt the party line. And then the light goes on. 

As a Greek teacher, you couldn't hope for anything better than that. Students see for themselves just how beautifully and wonderfully made the language of the New Testament is, down to the most basic morphemes and phonemes. 

When somebody says, "Dr. Black, I finally see how this all holds together" --  my word, the power of that. You can't overstate the wonder of that moment when individuals capture that insight. It's a lovely thing to see. I see it in their eyes the moment the light comes on and they say, "I get it!"

That one moment of discovery makes our profession completely and eternally worthwhile. 

Can You Read?

The other day I asked a student, somewhat facetiously, "Can you read?" The answer was, "Yes, of course I can read." Then I asked, "well, do you?" Lifelong learning involves the activity of regular reading. The elderly who engage in regular reading exercises are something like 32 percent less likely to experience mental decline. Is there anything more enjoyable than losing yourself in a thoroughly engrossing book? 

Can you read? Do you? 

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

How Lovely Are the Roses

Becky's roses are thriving this summer. 

It hardly seems possible that she's been gone for almost 9 years. 

Spouses never really die. They live on in your mind forever. 

Why I Don't Take Attendance

Of course, I do take attendance for academic administration purposes. But I do not take attendance in order to make attendance a part of a student's grade. I never have. In 46 years of teaching, attendance has never been mandatory. I'd like to share with you the "why."

When I was in high school, the school board experimented with optional attendance. They thought that teenagers would be self-motivated to attend class. 

You attended classes if you wanted to, and you didn't attend if didn't want to. Needless to say, I never wanted to. Neither would you if you lived at Kailua Beach and surfed. The year I graduated (1970), the school board did away with that policy. It had been an abysmal failure.

Fast forward to 1980. I am enrolled as a student at the University of Basel in Switzerland. 

My first semester in Basel I took 20 hours of weekly lectures. The second semester I reduced that to 15 hours since I had already begun writing my doctoral dissertation. Please note that NONE of those courses was required. We took them simply because we wanted to. I mean, who would NOT want to take Dogmengeschichte under Martin Anton Schmidt (the son of Karl Ludwig Schmidt) or theology under the great Czech theologian Jan Milic Lockman or the Gospel of Mark under Markus Barth, the son of the famous theologian? If the end is appropriate, then the journey becomes intrinsically meaningful in and of itself. 

By definition, education involves an ethos of self-directed and self-disciplined habits. The job of a teacher is to harness and direct that impulse. You have to get that impulse on your side as a teacher and encourage it. Attending college or university is an act of maturity. It is not subjugation to an external contract. It's acceptance of a voluntary system of self-disciplined structure. When you approach your classes that way as a teacher, you see just how happy your students are. As the great Winston Churchill once said, "It's easy to lead and hard to drive." As someone who has raised sheep, goats, and Angus, I can attest to the truth of that statement. A goal-oriented educational system of consensual goodwill will always outcompete a goal-oriented educational system based on compulsion. 

Educating the young involves helping them to understand how much they want an education. And how noble it is to want it. I want each of my class sessions to begin with a tingling sense of anticipation. I tell my students, "Yes, it's going to be hard. But it's also going to be great. Greek is a beautiful thing. And we are going to learn it together. And, after we have learned it, we will be different for all of eternity."


One of my teachers told me that Winston Churchill once said, "Success is a road filled with failures without loss of enthusiasm." It is an interesting statement because I know what the word "enthusiasm" derives from. 

Students, enthusiasm is priceless. Bring it with you to every class. 

We NEED to Be Active

Is it fall yet? Sure feels like it. The morning was perfect for a 5 mile run. 

There is nothing I do that is more convenient, relaxing, and enjoyable -- nothing that delivers that overall sense of wellness and wholeness. The key is to be completely relaxed and happy. A springy stride, a good posture, a relaxed smile -- these all work wonders. As a society, we need to be active. Running can be an energizing and fun activity for nearly anyone regardless of how old or how young you are. Forget the "No Pain, No Gain" philosophy. Just get outdoors and enjoy the sights. You will rediscover health and vigor and pay it forward to the overall health of your community. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

The Snare of the Devil

Dear friend, thank you so much for stopping by again. It's worth it trying to find the lion in its lair before it comes out and devours you. The Anglican priest interviewed here shows us how the American Episcopal Church self-destructed and, yes, it started in their seminaries and yes, it involved the unauthorized ordination of women to the ministry. The question is: Is anyone listening?

Hey Blokes, We're Cutting Hi!

Today we're cutting all of the hayfields on the farm. The hay has practically been begging us to mow it. Beautiful, ain't it? 

The Lord is so kind. Look at the weather he's sending us this week.

Of course, something always goes wrong when you're working. Today, it was getting an old cedar stuck in the mower blades. 

That little problem out of the way, mowing could continue. 

One field down, five to go. 

By the way, they say that making hay is difficult. I don't know about that. It seems rather cut and dried to me. The neighbors try to get their kids to help them get up hay. But they always bale. 

Oh, what do you call Australian hay? Hi. 

OK, I'll stop 😉