Tuesday, January 31, 2023

The Absurdity of English Spelling

In Greek class, we were discussing pronunciation and how easy Greek is to pronounce because you basically say what you see. Unfortunately, English is another story, largely because its rules of pronunciation are based on Latin. Sew and new don't rhyme. But kernel and colonel do. In the 1500s there was a great deal of debate about whether the standardized spelling should reflect the realities of English pronunciation or adhere as closely to Latin as possible. They chose the latter. Considering the times, the choice of Latin was an inevitable one. It was the holy language of Christianity. 

The problem, of course, is that English is basically a Germanic language, not a Romance one. It can't be held to the rules of Latin because it's not based on Latin. I'm a huge fan of Latin, but this is one place where the love of that language clearly went wrong. 

Your Best Is YOUR Best

When I ran the Chicago Marathon in 2019, I ran on the same course with the new women's world record holder in the marathon, Kenyan Brigid Koskei. 

When I heard that she had set the world record, I was approaching mile 10 of the course! The difference between us wasn't the effort but the speed. What feels like a 100 percent effort by an elite athlete feels the same to someone at the back of the pack.

I told my students yesterday that I'd like to help each of them get a solid A in the course. But I added, "If you end up with a B or a C, but have done your very best, you can leave the class with your head held high." 

Friend, your best is your best, not someone else's. My best will never be that of an elite marathoner. In other words, I will never become the best. But I can and will become my best.

Paul's Passion for People

You know me. I'm always trying to push myself. After all, if I expect my students to give their Greek studies 100 percent, can I do anything less? This morning's workout took me an hour and a half to complete. It was a bear but very productive. It took me longer than normal because I just added a new exercise to my routine, the deadlift. At the end of my workout, I finished up with some easy upper body exercises. 

This week is also the time I've set aside for house cleaning. (Remember my new year's resolution to clean the house at the beginning of every month?) Maybe it's the time of the year or it's just me, but I have been in a severe cleaning rut. I mean, my spiritual gift is eating, not cleaning up after myself. It's as if my brain can't think beyond the usual unkempt state of affairs that the house can easily fall into if I'm not careful. 

Anyway, what I really wanted to talk about was something I read in my morning devotionals over at everyone's favorite upscale restaurant, Bojangles. I was in 1 Thessalonians chapter 2. 

This chapter is one of the most personal and intimate in all of Paul's writings. As I read it, I was reminded of why Paul was so good at making friends. Have you ever noticed Paul's passion for people? Two things stood out to me today:

1) Paul dared to share. Just read verse 2. Paul fearlessly proclaimed the gospel. He took unpopular stands. He taught the truth. He never compromised his beliefs. That takes daring and courage. Last night a student asked me what other scholars thought about me and my views on the authorship of Hebrews. I told them that it didn't matter to me what they or anyone else thought. For years I believed just like they they did, but when I did a deep dive and compared Hebrews with the Paulines I couldn't help but see massive similarities in terms of style, diction, and even theology. Besides, by the 4th century we have 14 epistles of Paul, not 13. I could go on and on but I won't because my views are out in the public arena for you to read if you're so inclined. But none of us should be afraid to express our opinions. Elsewhere Paul said we are to be convinced in our minds and have our own convictions about things that are disputed. If Paul was anything, he was a man of deep convictions.

2) Paul dared to care. See verse 8. Paul says that he loved the Thessalonians so much that he was delighted to share with them not only the gospel but his own life. For teachers like me, this is one of the most powerful and disturbing sentences in all of Paul's writings. Paul stitches together what we so often hold apart. Teaching can never be reduced to the mere dissemination of information. I can't just show up at 12:30 on Monday afternoon, unload my theological dump truck, and then pull a wheelie out of the parking lot. Where's the heart? The love? The passion for people? Paul shared the truth, yes. But he also shared himself. Paul exercised his authority, not like a lord but like a parent. Paul -- the Alpha Male, the AAA type personality -- was gentle among them, like a mother caring for her children. Christians, including the students we teach week in and week out, are like children. They don't grow up instantaneously. Are we patient with them? Are we willing to go out of our way for them, even inconveniencing ourselves to help them? Think of what mothers give up for their babies -- their time, their sleep, their social life, their ambition, their achievement, their energy, their money. Teachers who prioritize their students may well have to give up many of the same things. Do you see Paul loving, and serving, and giving, and urging his readers to live their lives in a manner worthy of the kingdom? Do you see a perfect blend of steel and tenderness? 

This was all very convicting to me this morning. Becoming a good teacher takes work, risk, dedication, sacrifice ... and especially time. Nor can our students be expected to arrive at maturity overnight. Christian Barnard didn't just pick up a scalpel one day and suddenly decide to start transplanting hearts. Maturity, like a crop, doesn't spring up overnight. If it's healthy, it has to be fertilized, nurtured, weeded, and watered. 

Each week of school has become an experiment in which I, like Paul, dare to share the truth with my students --  and also dare to share my life with them. It can be a very radical way of living.

Monday, January 30, 2023

Just Do It

"I don't have time!" What a lame excuse for not working out. Sure, you have a crazy schedule. Everyone does. But the fact is, you make time for things that are important to you. If your life isn't what you want it to be, it's your fault. At any moment you have the choice to let yourself off the hook or to ditch your excuses and do what it is you know you should be doing. Don't depend on others to motivate you. In case you haven't noticed, no one really cares but you. Sure, your friends and family will politely compliment you when you send them that gym picture, but when push comes to shove, it is you who has to put in the effort. The things that are tough in life -- whether getting into shape or making a marriage work -- require making a definite decision and not giving in to excuses. No, you can't control everything, but you also do not need to be a victim of your circumstances. Do you think it's easy or effortless? Do you think it's convenient? Not very likely. There is nothing magical about it. JUST DO IT.  

Learning Greek

There are three (and only three) ways to learn how to read New Testament Greek. 

1) Study.

2) Study.

3) Study. 

No shortcuts allowed. 

First Major Quiz!

Our first grammar quiz of the semester. 

So proud of y'all. Onward and upward! 

Allen's Missionary Methods

Wonderful Christian classic.

Have you read it yet? 

Why Study Latin?

Here is a quote from Tertullian:

Caro salutis est cardo.

The flesh is the turning point of salvation.

He is referring to the miracle of the incarnation, where the Word became flesh. However, even if the meaning is plain enough in English, a great deal is lost in translation. The original is magnificent. It's just another reason why you should study Latin. 

Have You Noticed?

How church tends to bring out the best in people as well as the worst. (See Phil. 1:12-17). 

Sunday, January 29, 2023

The NC Symphony Does It Again

Raleigh has become quite the cultural center, and at the heart of it all is Meymandi Hall. 

Last night's performance featured music by Coleridge-Taylor, Mozart, and Tchaikovsky. 

Of course, most of us came for the second half performance of the latter's Symphony No. 5 in E Minor. It's one of my all-time favorites -- a masterpiece of orchestration, melodic intricacy, drama, and emotion. It always send shivers through me when I hear it and often a tear of joy at the end. It was a truly wonderful performance. It was great looking at the faces of the players during the applause at the end. The conductor had to make three curtain calls, each of them well-deserved. 

It's hard to say which style of music I enjoy the most -- classical, rock, country, blue grass, baroque, Hawaiian slack key guitar, etc. It's the same as the fingers in our hands. All have different sizes, and each is important. The glory of classical music is that each symphony or concerto has a story behind it. Tchaikovsky was a genius who gave so much of his brief existence on this earth to bringing classical music to life for the masses. I really loved this performance with its brilliant orchestra and its young conductor, who, by the way, hails from Brazil and smiled at me when I shouted "Maravilhoso!"

Bravo to all of you, and glory to the One who stands behind every great piece of music ever written or performed. 

Saturday, January 28, 2023

Tchaikovsky Will Be Live Tonight!

I won't go into details, but I did something in the gym today I had never done before. That's all I'm telling you. How's that for being elusive (*coy smile*)? 

I will tell you, however, that I do have plans to hear the North Carolina Symphony Orchestra play Tchaikovsky's magnificent 5th Symphony tonight in Raleigh. It seems like it's been years since I heard a classical music concert at the Meymandi Auditorium. I, for one, love to hear music performed in person. I love the energy of a live performance. I love watching the musicians plying their trade. And as a trumpet player, I am always pulling for the trumpet section to hit all their high notes (which ain't easy). But I especially enjoy watching the string musicians. I mean, just think of the violin and its ability to beautifully deliver an incredibly wide range of music, from backwoods fidlin' to serious classical music. The violin can serve as a soloist for an orchestra, but it is equally at home behind the scenes contributing to the overall beauty of the compositions being played. My goodness, how that instrument sings, and with soul. Violas, too, intrigue me. The viola has an extremely unique tonal range, being one of the only truly "middle" voices in a symphonic orchestra. It has a soft, buttery goodness that no other instrument really possesses. And then there's the bassoon. Even the word sounds funny. But just listen to the bassoon solo in The Rite of Spring and you'll know why so many people love that instrument. 

In a nutshell, there is nothing like orchestral music being performed live. Whenever I attend a live concert I marvel at the color and textures, the pure power and, by contrast, the effect of silence. So much magic is lost through videotaping and recording. I can't imagine that someone would rather watch Phantom of the Opera on YouTube than see it live! In case you haven't noticed, I have a very emotional response to music and find that it inspires lofty thoughts. Sometimes during a concert I even glimpse a better world. 

One more thing and then I'll stop. I'm not interested in celebrity-focused concerts where an SVF (Someone Very Famous) is featured and the publicity centers around an airbrushed photo of said SVF. I don't like anything (or anyone) distracting from the music itself. However, I do enjoy it when the conductor (or someone else who is knowledgeable) addresses the audience, because I like learning about composers and the circumstances under which they lived and composed. Don't know if that will happen tonight as there will be a guest conductor, but I hope so. 

Enjoy the weekend! 

"By (THE) Grace Are You Saved"

Here's the beginning of a very well-known verse in the New Testament: "For by grace are you saved through faith ...." (Eph. 2:8). 

But note the word circled in blue. It's the word "the" in Greek and, I think, it's a word that indicates an important nuance that is perhaps lacking in English. Let me explain.

It was during a conference in England by experts on world religions that they wondered if any belief was unique to Christianity. And they began ruling out various things. Incarnation? Well, other religions had a tradition of God appearing in the form of a man. Resurrection? Again, other religions had accounts of people being raised from the dead. At this point C. S. Lewis happened to enter the room. "What's all the fuss about?" he asked. And they replied that they were discussing Christianity and its unique contribution to world religions. "Oh, that's easy," replied Lewis. "It's grace." Only Christianity dares to make God's love unconditional. Undeserved love, unmerited generosity -- this is the grace that characterizes our God, and our religion. 

The people of God are the people of God because of such grace. That's why Eph. 2:8 does not read "By grace are you saved" but "By the (or that, or such) grace are you saved." Paul is not referring to grace in general. No, he is referring to the grace described earlier in the chapter. He begins by describing the human condition -- we were all born in sin, and were under God's wrath just like everyone else. "But," Paul adds, "God is so rich in mercy! He loved us so much that even though we were spiritually dead and doomed by our sins, he made us alive when he raised Christ from the dead -- only by his undeserved grace have we ever been saved -- and lifted us up from the grave into glory along with Christ, when we sat with him in the heavenly realms, all because of what Christ Jesus did."

It is precisely here that Paul adds, "Because of this grace -- God's grace revealed to us through Christ -- you have been saved through trusting Christ. And even trusting is not of yourselves. It too is a gift from God."

Grace has always marked God's people. We live because of the sacrifice of another, a Savior who says "Give me your death and I will give you my life; give me your sin and I will give you my righteousness." Remember the dying thief on the cross? "We're getting what we deserve," he said, but that sorrowful admission was met by Jesus' promise, "Today, with me, you will be in Paradise" (so the Greek). That's what usually happens when Jesus meets sinners face to face. They receive exactly the opposite of what they deserve. The same thing has happened to you and to me. And that's what grace is all about. 

True religion isn't a matter of works and willpower on our part, but grace on God's part. I know you already know this. But I think it's a good thing to be reminded of it from time to time.

Friday, January 27, 2023

A Gold Medal Performance

You might not know this, but in a marathon everyone who finishes gets the exact same medal. 

You would think that at some point on the clock the medals went from gold to silver to bronze. The truth is, the amount of effort it takes to finish a marathon isn't reflected in how long it takes to cover that distance. There are gold medal performances at every level of running. When you complete a marathon, your sense of accomplishment is every bit as strong as the elite runner who just won the event. I can tell you that firsthand. It may be true that the prize goes to those who run in the front of the pack, but the glory belongs to any one of us who crosses the finish line. Truly, it's a gold-medal moment. 

True Greatness

To be part of something great is better than being considered great. 

A Book!

We can't be Christlike without being word-centered. We live, grow, and flourish by the word of God. We wilt and wither without it. Nothing is more important for the life and health, growth and depth, of the believer than a recovery of serious, daily, personal Bible study. Here I am at Bojangles this morning. 

I come to God's word as a man aching for eternity, starving for a word from God, hungry to hear his voice, desperate to see Jesus. I don't come for some transient advice or to be entertained but for a vision of transcendent reality, an infinitely valuable glimpse of God's glory. And we do this together, you and I, united in Christ as members of his body. We come to Scripture expecting God's voice, not only on Sundays, but every day of the week. I have no doubt that biblical preaching is as much needed in the twenty-first century as it was in the first. The pulpit is a tremendous responsibility. But we need to be reminded in our day that it is the Bible, not the word of man, that is the God-breathed word of God. That's what I love about 2 Tim. 3:16. It is one of the most important verses in the Bible about both the origin and the purpose of Scripture. Nowhere else in Scripture is the work of the word so concisely set forth or its sufficiency so clearly declared. All Scripture is God-breathed! All Scripture is supremely profitable! The Bible matters in our walk with the Lord because God breathed it. Let this sink in. We hold in our hands the very words of God translated into English. It is a book that reveals the mind of God. A book! And we can know it, read it, study it, love it, and memorize it. No human sermon or written commentary can ever be a substitute for it.

Thank you, Lord! 

Thursday, January 26, 2023

What If?

What if more pastors had secular employment and on-the-job training, as in the New Testament?

What if congregations had no superstars up front?

What if we went back to the Bible to find a biblical ecclesiology? 

The Ministry of Small Things

And now a brief word to my fellow teachers. Don't neglect the ministry of small things. This includes a listening ear, a helping hand, a chat during breaks, coming to class early to field questions and allay fears, returning emails promptly, an open office door, and words of encouragement and (when needed) strong admonition. 

Teaching is nothing other than the ministry of small things to accomplish great things. 

A Word to Students

As a teacher, these are two of my favorite verses in the entire New Testament (2 Tim. 2:1-2):

As for you, my son, be strong through the grace that is ours in union with Christ Jesus. Take the teachings that you heard me proclaim in the presence of many witnesses, and entrust them to reliable people, who will be able to teach others also.

One of the greatest fears a teacher can have is to invest in students who will eventually not follow through. Paul knew such people. They are named in chapter 4 of this letter. Some of them even went out of their way to make Paul's life miserable. So if you ever become a teacher, make sure to look out for people who do not have these negative qualities. Instead, look for reliable people who will follow your instruction and then pass it on to others reliably. Paul, of course, is using a racing metaphor. He describes the gospel work as a long-distance race. Jesus has started the race and has passed the baton on to Paul. He, in turn, wants to pass it on to Timothy, who will continue the race because Paul has found him to be reliable.

And what exactly is the primary characteristic of a reliable person? Paul is looking for those who will stand firm in the grace of Jesus Christ. Paul, I believe, could be asking you and me, "Are you standing in the grace of Jesus Christ? Is that a primary quality of your life?" The questions are necessary because we tend to stand on all sorts of other things like our eloquence or our education or our social connections or our brilliance. Student, please hear me: You cannot stand on any of those things. Standing in the grace of Jesus Christ means that your worth as a Christian, as a gospel person, depends not on your ability or knowledge or skills or any other resource but purely on the resources that Jesus Christ provides. Keep this verse in mind always (Col. 1:29):

I work hard and struggle with all of Christ's energy that so powerfully works in me.

The abundance is in God's grace, which is freely given and which is freely received. Do not grovel in despair over your inadequacies, but move on to the daily blessedness of all-sufficient grace!

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

What Have We Done with Such a Great Privilege?

There is a real danger that my life-long work of preparing pastor-teachers for their ministries could give the impression that I believe that they are the only significant people in the church who build up God's people. In point of fact, the ministry of pastor-teachers is designed by God to be the catalyst that enables others to do their part. This is the logic of Eph. 4:11-13. How is the body of Christ to be built up? How does it come to maturity? This happens when all God's people are doing ministry. Pastor-teachers play a crucial role here, yes, but not at the expense of others. It is not only a special group of people who are "ministers." All of us have a responsibility. This is how the Bible expects churches to be built up. So while there is certainly a need for gifted leaders to be set apart for pastoral ministry and other forms of leadership, the growth of the church does not depend on them alone. 

When the printing press was invented, the first book to be published, as you know, was the Bible. Within three decades, the Bible had been printed in German, Italian, French, and Spanish. These translations used as their base, not the Greek of the New Testament, but a fourth century Latin Bible called the Vulgate. Still there existed no Bible in English.

In 1516, Erasmus published a Greek New Testament in Basel. In England, a young theology student named William Tyndale absorbed Erasmus's New Testament and then went off to Germany to embark on his life's work of translating the Bible into English from the original Hebrew and Greek. In 1526, Tyndale's English New Testament was published, and thousands of copies found their way into England. 

The church bishops banned it from England and even took to burning Bibles when they found them. Lay Bible reading, they felt, would only undermine the institution of the church and threaten its power base. Official persecution of those who translated and distributed the Bible in English soon followed.

Did persecution stop the Reformers? Hardly. They firmly believed that Scripture is God speaking. The Scriptures were breathed out by him. He is a revealing, understandable, God. Thus Tyndale and his followers wanted ordinary people to be able to hear God speaking for themselves and not have to go to a priest or a bishop to tell them what God is saying. Zwingli, another of the great Reformers, argued that Christ rules his church through the word, not through the pope. The Bible, not the church, is the master. 

The Reformers insisted that Scripture is not just God speaking but God speaking supremely. This didn't mean that people were not to read commentaries on the Bible. The Reformers were famous for producing such works. But they would have been horrified if people paid more attention to Christian books than the Bible itself. 

With the publication of the Bible in the vernacular, private Bible reading became a feature of ordinary life. Butchers and bakers began to read and discuss the Bible, coming to their own conclusions about what it taught, even daring to disagree with the clergy over it. The priest could no longer pontificate unchallenged. Sola scriptura meant more than merely "the Bible alone." It meant that the Bible trumped all other authorities. The Scriptures, and the Scriptures alone, are the supreme authority. The church therefore cannot order anything contrary to God's word. The ultimate authority is the Bible, not the priest or the pope.

Alas, it is blatantly obvious today that there are more popes than the one in Rome. And it is not just the Roman church that needs reformation in its ideas about the Bible. I have been instructing pastor-teachers for over 4 decades, showing them how to exposit the Bible with integrity, authority, and credibility, but evangelical pulpits are not substitutions for the Holy Scriptures. Not long ago I visited a church where the Bible stayed closed in people's laps during the sermon. But keeping the Scriptures open -- keeping them supreme -- is the only way to keep reforming the church. If the Bible says it, that's where we are to go. If the Bible forbids it, we dare not go there.

Many years ago I sat on the committee at an institution (that shall remain unnamed) which examined a doctoral student in New Testament to see whether he was sufficiently prepared to begin writing his dissertation. There were three examiners. I went last. The first two examiners were quite thorough in their questioning. The student was asked a number of important questions about the synoptic problem, textual criticism, pseudonymity, verbal aspect, and the like. When my turn came, and feeling that the main technical questions had already been posed, I took a different tack. "I will recite to you 10 verses from the New Testament, and I would like you to kindly tell where that verse is found in the New Testament," I said. The first verse I quoted was, "Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." The student replied, "Ephesians?" Then I quoted this verse: "I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live, yet not I but Christ lives in me. And the life that I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." "Romans?" said the student. Of the 10 verses I quoted to him, he got only one of them right. He failed the exam, for I did not think it was a good idea to grant a Ph.D. in New Testament to someone who knew everything about the New Testament but did not know the New Testament itself. 

The Bible was given to us as our supreme authority. It is God speaking to us, not only in Hebrew and Greek, but in our own language. What have we done in our personal study of the Bible? What have we done with such a great privilege? 

Cardio Day

Well, guess what? The weather has turned rainy again. It's your typical January weather pattern. But if you're running indoors, weather isn't a concern. There's probably no way even someone as unathletic as I can risk injury while running in a gym as opposed to running on rainy, snowy, or icy roads. You can run on a treadmill I guess, but I prefer running in place, adding a couple of very light weights to keep things interesting. Today my "run" lasted for 60 minutes. I know that while you're running in the gym you can entertain yourself by watching TV at the same time, but I prefer to listen to lectures on YouTube. (Today's lecture was the eye-opening talk given by Mark Lane at UCLA on the Warren Commission Report and its, let's say, less than honest approach to resolving the murder of the century.) The main thing is not to forget doing my cardio work in view of a 26.2 mile competition in exactly one month from today. Of course, I use the word "competition" a bit loosely. Frankly, when I run a marathon my main goal is to finish under my own power without requiring medical attention. On the other hand, the more you train for a race, the more you can enjoy it and even "compete" in your age group. But the truth is that running is not about running fast or running slow or running for competition. We cannot help but run, even if we're terrible at it. We are runners, and so we run. The main satisfaction of running a marathon is that internal satisfaction of knowing you persevered amidst challenges and didn't give up. And as you compete in a 26.2 mile race, you receive the kind of education that no one is given in school. You are forced to learn to be strong and brave and resilient. You learn how to suffer. And you learn to rely upon God in spite of your seemingly impossible situation. He promises his strong arms of support and assistance to all who determine to trust him through the painful yet essential process of personal growth and change. 

Are you willing? 

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Ending Spectatorism

When you attend a church service, don't just ask, "What can I get out of it?" Also ask, "How can I contribute?" and then look for opportunities to do just that. The more we do this, the more we will be able to spur one another on to love and good works. It might also help put an end to the deplorable spectatorism many churches have fallen into. 

A Simple Recipe for an Effective Workout

Begin with a compound movement such as pull ups. Pull ups work your biceps, triceps, lats, shoulders, forearms, wrists, and core while improving your grip strength. 

Follow with a few hards sets of isolation movements. 

See if this works for you. 

Monday, January 23, 2023

My Reading Disorder

I have a reading problem. I can never just read one kind of genre. This disorder started when I was a child growing up in Hawaii. I would read the Hardy Boys novels that would transport me to the mainland, and then I would read non-fiction works like biographies. I am always in the middle of reading either a non-fiction book or a novel. This book came in today's mail and I am enjoying it thoroughly. The assassination of a president is a unique topic. 

So far it's slow going and I suspect it will take me days (rather than hours) to get through it. I am fascinated by the confusing relationship between the eyewitnesses and the Warren Commission panelists. If you want the book, I recommend you get it used like I did for only a fraction of the cost of buying it new. What sucks me into the story are my memories of Kennedy's assassination when I was only 11. I can clearly remember all of the students in my elementary school in Kailua being assembled on that November morning and being asked to play taps on my trumpet. I was in the 5th grade. If this sounds dramatic, it was. Surprisingly, I didn't mess up the high note, and the passing of the president soon became a thing of memory. One does not need to be a history buff like me to be fascinated with this tale. Indeed, when I'm in Dallas next month I hope to pay a visit to the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza to see what I'm told is a most interesting display. Studying the past can give us insights into current events. History, or at least properly written history, is about people whose minds you can put yourself into. I am blessed to have discovered the joy of reading at such a young age. What a poor and dull life it would have been otherwise.

What Are You Waiting For?

Yesterday I spoke with a young man who is determined to run a marathon this year. I encouraged him to sign up for a race. By the way, if you've never run or walked in a race, what are you waiting for? Most events cater to runners and walkers of all levels of ability. They are a great way to set a goal and have fun. Whether you are an experienced runner or a rank novice, you will face challenges like you've never faced before. But with proper training and preparation, racing should be a positive life-changing experience. 

Here's to healthy running and to many enjoyable miles to come! 


I teach Greek. That's my thing. As a result I often find myself with a Greek New Testament open in front of a group of eager students, like in today's class. Talk about fun! 

Students, before plunging in, why not pray? Pray specifically that God will make each class session meaningful and encouraging. Pray that he and he alone will be glorified in our class. And pray that we might never lose sight of the real goal in all of our studies -- to better serve God and others.


True Worship

Recently I heard someone refer to the church building as the "house of God," as if somehow God lived there. But we must never think of a church building as the house of God. There are no more holy places now that Jesus has come. He has changed all that. True worship, he taught, is now dependent on a person and not a place. The upshot is that if we want to meet with God and worship him, we don't have to travel to any special place, be it Gerizim, or Jerusalem, of a church building. 

Worship cannot be contained to a building on Sunday! I so wish the church could get this right! 

My 47th Year of Teaching!

I started out the first day of the new semester in the best possible way -- getting coffee and a sausage biscuit at Bo's. Now I'm at the office printing off quizzes and answer keys and preparing to teach the present and future tenses. 

To say that I am excited to be starting my 47th year of teaching Greek would be a major understatement. I still hope I am setting some kind of an example that is sinking into my students. Here's what I wish:

  • That they realize that hard work and discipline pay off.
  • They will acquire lots of endurance and patience during the semester. 
  • They come to realize that, in the Lord, they are stronger than they think.
  • They realize that setbacks are not something to be ashamed of.
  • They know that I support them wholeheartedly in their studies.

If you are a teacher, I think your discipline, drive, determination, and goals speak volumes. Your life is rubbing off on your students in ways you will never know. As teachers, we are defined by the example we set.

Happy teaching y'all! 

Sunday, January 22, 2023

Growing Better, Not Just Older

Thousands of people who divorce each year have been married for 20 years or more. It's possible to grow older without growing better. That was the point of this morning's sermon. We need to be improving all the time. As the new semester starts tomorrow, I want to be a better teacher this year than I was last year. By God's grace, I will be. 

Where Do You Worship?

The correct answer to this question is not "First Baptist Church" but "everywhere." Worship is not limited to what we do on Sunday. It involves offering ourselves fully to God in all parts of our life every day of the week. Let's remember this as we start a new workweek tomorrow. 

Saturday, January 21, 2023

First Trail Run of the Year

Thanks be to God! Today I completed my first peak race of 2023. It was 13.1 miles of single track running. 

And yes, the best part was crossing the river, not once, but twice! 

Lord willing, next month it's the Cowtown Marathon in Fort Worth Cowtown! 

By the way, my Altra Lone Peak trail shoes worked perfectly today. I did no slipping in the mud whatsoever. Tripping over roots was another matter. Can't blame that on Altra. Klutzy ole me was just being, well, klutzy. Thankfully I didn't face plant but I came close once or twice. Don't tell me we don't have guardian angels. 

Friday, January 20, 2023

What Is YOUR Diakonia?

This morning I had a great conversation with a good friend who lives in South Boston. He's a bi-vocational elder/pastor in one of our Mennonite congregations. Here's the passage we discussed. 

In Acts 6:1-6, the lessons are obvious. God calls all his people to ministry. The word diakonia, used in verses 1 and 4, is a generic word for "ministry" or "service." And we are all called to such diakonia. We are all called to give our lives in service to God and others.

This passage also teaches us that God calls different people to different ministries. It's obviously deliberate on the part of Luke that the work of the 12 and the work of the 7 are both called a diakonia. The 12 were called to the diakonia of the word, that is, to pastoral ministry. The 7 were called to the diakonia of tables, that is, to social ministry (caring for widows). Neither ministry is superior to the other. Neither is inferior to the other. Both of them are Christian ministries. Both are ways of serving Christ and his people. And note -- both require spiritual people to engage in them. 

My pastor friend and I rejoiced that all Christians are called to ministry. But there is a wide diversity of gifts and ministries. Some serve spiritual food to people. Others serve physical food to people. And while this fact is made plain in the Greek text of Acts 6, the same cannot be said of English translations. This is exceedingly unfortunate. As you can see, only the NASB, by using the term "serving," comes close to connecting the diakonia of verse 1 with the diakonia of verse 4. 

Oh, the Vulgate gets it right: 

  • in ministerio quotidiana (verse 1)
  • ministerio verbi (verse 4) 

But other than e pluribus unum and et cetera, I'm not holding my breath that many Americans can read Latin. Maybe we should just all learn to read Greek. (*Gasp*) 

My point is that if you are a Christian and do not experience the delights of being involved in ministry, you're missing out on one of the greatest privileges we have as believers in this life. I long to communicate to every person I can that the living Lord has designed a way for you to serve him and others. And because he is the originator of the idea of diakonia, I can declare without reservation that he is willing to show you exactly what that is.

Are you willing? 

It's Well Worth the Time and Effort

Like perhaps some of my blog readers, I am a weight lifter. I am not particularly good at it, and I am certainly not genetically gifted. I am, however, stubborn and nerdy, and possibly lazy, though I prefer to think of myself as efficient. Three times a week the gym beckons to me, and I obey its call joyfully. 

I love every minute of a workout, especially when I'm trying something new, as with today's variation of an incline bench press (the "incline" is so minor you can barely notice it). 

Today I was reminded that I don't have to lift. I get to. And if I can do it, anyone can. That includes you. Admittedly, it's hard work. But it's not impossible. When you consider the alternative, it's well worth the time and effort involved. 

Thursday, January 19, 2023

My Next Race!

My next race is this Saturday, so der Herr will. It's a 13.1 mile trail race in Greensboro that crosses the Reedy Fork River twice. 

Here's the course route and elevation chart:

Looks more like an x-ray of someone's intestines and an EKG to me. So far it looks like 250 of us have signed up for this race. Lord willing, this will be half marathon #40 for me. 

There are different opinions on how one should run a trail race like this one. My strategy? Finish the same day. As I said yesterday, I know I'm bad at sports. Yet I still love sports. I think I need races to make the physical effort interesting. It may be true that the glamour of the sport belongs to the front runners. But glory belongs to every one us regardless of whether or not you ever set foot on the podium.

Economic Breath of Fresh Air

Been watching Milton Friedman on YouTube. The man was bright as a button and just as endlessly interesting. A great education in economics for anyone willing to listen. 

Trapped by Sedentary Confinement?

When my wife's parents travelled to Ethiopia in the 1960s, the journey took weeks. By the time they arrived in Addis, they had been refreshed by days of sailing, where they had had time to relax, read, study, and pray. Later, when Becky and I began traveling to Ethiopia, the trip lasted a matter of hours. We would have breakfast in Virginia, lunch in Frankfurt, and dinner in Addis. In my frequent travels to the nations, I would think nothing of flying to, say, Seoul, and then engaging in ministry within an hour of arrival. The greatest problem I faced was a mild case of jet lag.

Jesus knew nothing of jet lag. When he went from village to village, he moved on foot. Those long walks were undoubtedly accompanied by long hours of quietness and both physical and mental rejuvenation. I believe we will discover -- if we stop and think about it -- that our weariness rarely comes from the genuine tiredness of body that we feel at the end of an honest day's labor. Instead, it is the weariness of a tired spirit. We are worn out from busyness and pressure.

Because so few of us lead a slow-paced life like Jesus did, is it any wonder that I talk so much about artificial means of recreation and renewal? As a society, we need to make ourselves walk or run or cycle. The incidence of obesity alone in America should make us pause. Who will deny that our lack of physical activity, unhealthy lifestyles, and questionable diets have contributed to this sad state of affairs? It may sound like an extravagant claim, but physical activity can be a comfortable, energizing, and fun form of behavior.

Are you trapped by solitary sedentary confinement? 

I assure you, anyone can be more active. Anyone can learn to gently convince their body that moving is better than not moving. Real change comes by overcoming your doubts and fears one step at a time. With each step you take, it becomes more and more difficult not to be an athlete. 

This is what happens when we untie the "nots" in our lives. You just have to to be willing to see where you are, decide where you want to be, and figure out how you want to get there. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

No Athletic Gifts? Who Cares!

I think I've got to be the ultimate accidental athlete. I'm the world's biggest klutz when it comes to sports. However, at some point on my way to old age and senility, I fell in love with the outdoors -- and all the things you can do outdoors, be it hiking or running or cycling. I think a lot of us adults have difficulty giving ourselves permission to enjoy a sport that we know we're not very good at. When I went off to college, I wanted to continue to play basketball, but when after a few weeks I noticed that other players were much better at it than I was, I gave up. When I tried running a few years ago, I knew I had to take a different approach. I already knew I wasn't going to be very good at it, so I just tried to enjoy myself. And what fun I've had! 

Take today for example. This morning I went to the gym and lifted, as I always do on Wednesdays. Tuesdays and Thursdays are for cardio. But just look at today's gorgeous weather. 

And so it is that a funny thing happened on my way home to take a nap. I put on my new running shoes and went for a 5 mile run at the Tobacco Heritage Trail. Did I mention that I'm a slow runner, as in glacially slow? Who cares? I don't. I'm having more fun that I've ever had. 

Here's the irony of it all: Although I have next to no athletic gifts, I still enjoy being an athlete. I LOVE trying to learn what the human body was designed to do. I've learned to relish the simple movement of my limbs and joints. You see, going fast or going far isn't what makes you an athlete. It's getting up every morning and taking on whatever challenges the world throws at you that day. Being an athlete has already taught you that it's always the challenges that make you stronger. 

As I face the challenges of growing older (don't worry -- you'll be there too one day), I want to face them the same way I face the challenges of running. Both running and life have a way of making you stronger than you ever imagined you could be. And all it takes to begin is a simple step. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Students: Develop an Independent Mind!

In John 3, Nicodemus comes to Jesus by night. In many ways, John portrays him in a very positive light. For one thing, Nikodemus doesn't send somebody else to interview Jesus. He goes himself. 

Moreover, he wasn't prepared to condemn Jesus without granting him a hearing. Just because others disapproved of Jesus didn't mean he had to. In short, he seemed to have had a fairly independent mind. 

Do you? 

Sometimes we go along with the flow. We only do what the crowd does. At root, many of us are mindless conformists. I should know as I have engaged in groupthink more often than I would like to admit. But Nicodemus had integrity. He was determined to get his questions answered. He was an honest inquirer, neither a blind follower of the crowd nor an upstart. He was an open-minded and open-hearted seeker of truth. And his search was rewarded, because later we find him numbered among Jesus' disciples.

Where today are the Nicodemuses? Where are the students who are prepared to lay aside their apathy and fears and seek the truth with an honest and humble spirit? Where are the young men and young women who are prepared to lay aside their prejudices and go where the facts lead them? 

I hope you are one of them. 

Teachers: Let's Be Available!

Don't you love how Jesus always had time for individuals? The Gospel writers tell us, of course, that Jesus spent time ministering to the multitudes and training the Twelve. But they also make it plain that he spent time with people one-on-one. He afforded them the opportunity to meet with him personally

This, I think, has relevance for those us in the teaching profession. Teaching is much more than disseminating information. Christian education is essentially likeness education, as Luke 6:40 clearly teaches. 

Jesus spent time with people, and so should we. 

When I was in college and seminary, I am grateful to say that most of my teachers were accessible. But not all of them. A few so zealously guarded their privacy that it was almost impossible to have a private conversation with them. Their office doors were always closed, and to get an appointment with them you had to go through a lengthy process. 

In Basel, things were vastly different. Doctoral students had constant access to their major professor, who was affectionately known as their Doktorvater, or "Doctor Father." My Doctor Father was Bo Reicke. Meetings with him were in his home, and I even had access to his personal library. In fact, the first month I was in Basel I lived in his home while finding an apartment for Becky and me. Mentoring wasn't a haphazard affair. The entire 3 year program was an intentional and deeply satisfying mentorship.

I suppose that might be the reason I've always had an open door policy with my students. My office door is never closed except when I already have a student in there. Students can email me directly and can expect an answer, if not immediately, certainly within 12 hours. "But aren't you too busy with your writing to do this?" Actually, I've found the opposite to be true. The more I keep my priorities right -- students first -- the more time it seems I have for other things, including a busy writing schedule. When students know that you are accessible to them, I think they become more respectful of your time, not less. 

Bottom line? If Jesus could spend time with Nicodemus, the Samaritan woman, and the rich young ruler, then I can spend time with my students without making them feel like they are a burden to me.

In Him We Live and Move and Have Our Being

It's hard to believe that I leave for Fort Worth in just over a month for the Cowtown Marathon. So today it was an hour of cardio at the gym using light weights. I have to tell you -- I had the time of my life. I LOVE the challenge of getting your heart rate up and staying there for 60 minutes. I know you're probably not that interested (I don't blame you), but I do have a sampling for you in this short clip: 

It felt great to be alive. On this day, right now, I hope we can all remember and acknowledge the many gifts and blessings God gives us. After all, "in him we live and move and have our being" (Acts 17:28)! 

Monday, January 16, 2023

You're Never without Prayer

"Pray! Since God works, prayer works. Since God is good, prayer is good. Since you matter to God, your prayers matter in heaven. You're never without hope, because you're never without prayer."

--Max Lucado, Before Amen, p. 100. 

How to Learn Greek

You don't need dozens of beginning Greek textbooks to learn how to read your Greek New Testament. All you need is one. Get it, read it, do your work, and the results are guaranteed. 

A Brilliant Maverick

Today I ordered this book. 

I don't know why it took me so long to do so. Nobody sets the record straight like Thomas Sowell. He's such a breath of fresh air. He has taught me that maybe I'm not so crazy after all. He is kryptonite for liberals, that's for sure. "The facts," he would say, "where are the facts?" This man clearly understood the agenda and M.O. of the cultural "elite" who wish to impose their "solutions" on the rest of us. He was warning people about all this stuff long before anyone really even understood what he was talking about. His thoughts on higher education are so spot on. Liberals are not "liberal" at all, at least not in the classical sense of the term. This is one reason I refused to stay here in the States for my doctoral studies. Ivy League schools were "liberal/open-minded" until you espoused a conservative conclusion. Things were better in the UK in that regard and even much better on the continent at the time. Sowell understood what was going on long before I did. This is what happens when a truly intelligent and logical person weighs in on topics where the average person has concluded that the matter is settled. It's really hard to argue with someone who puts in the proper amount of research and absorbs all the facts. I wish we did this more in my own discipline of New Testament studies.

Can You Pronounce These Names?

I get stuck in my ruts and and love it when I can find my way out and experience something new. So, in case you are a lifter, here's a picture of my latest exercise, which I had never done before. It's a variation of the traditional biceps curl. 

It's called a "preacher curl," why, I do not know. I'm told that the prerequisite for doing it is that you must be an ordained preacher, which I'm not, so please don't tell the gym management on me. 

Another rut I like to get stuck in is being serious all the time here on this blog. So it's time to lighten things up a bit with a quiz, wouldn't you agree? One week from today classes begin. One of the first things I do is go through the class list to make sure I can pronounce everyone's names correctly. Sometimes that's easier said than done. Every teacher knows this. So I'm curious .... How many of these names can you pronounce correctly? I picked them randomly. Some are from sports, others from entertainment, still others from politics, and some are even from theology/philosophy. The name that's bolded is the one you need to try. Here goes .... 

Martin Scorsese.

Joni Eareckson Tada

Aaron Copland

Brett Favre

William Butler Yeats

John Boehner

Darrell Issa

Herman Wouk

Lou Piniella

Keir Dullea

I'll add two more names just to make this fun quiz even funner. I have yet to meet a person who could pronounce both of these names correctly. Will you be the first? 

Ayn Rand

J. Gresham Machen

The answers are below (under the pictures). Try not to scroll down until you've jotted down your answers. Get them all correct? You akamai! 

Aaron Copland.

Keir Dullea

Martin Scorsese. Score SAY see.

Joni Eareckson Tada. Johnny.

Aaron Copland. COPE land

Brett Favre. Farve.

William Butler Yeats. Yates. 

John Boehner. BAY ner. 

Darrell Issa. EYE sa. 

Herman Wouk. Woke. 

Lou Piniella. Pi NEL la. 

Keir Dullea. da Lay. 

Ayn Rand. EYE n. 

J. Gresham Machen. GRES em. 

Sunday, January 15, 2023

"Do You Love Me?" (John 21:15-17)

When was the last time you expressed your love for Jesus? When was the last time you, like the sinful woman in Luke 7, fell at his feet, washed his feet with your tears, wiped them with the hair of your.head, and covered them with your kisses? She had been forgiven much. That's why she loved much.

In John 21:15-17, Jesus asks Peter, "Do you love me?" Notice that he doesn't drag up the past. Nor does he ask about Peter's words and deeds. Instead, he asks about the attitude of Peter's heart. You can't fake love. We either love Jesus or we don't. The Ephesian church had lost their love for Christ despite their doctrinal orthodoxy (Rev. 2:1-7). 

Love for Christ is primary because it's the attitude of those who've been forgiven. You can't have been forgiven by Jesus and not love him. 

P.S. If we love Jesus, we will love his people too. This is another emphasis of our passage in John 21. Read my essay Sloppy Agape to see why. 


Today I attended the funeral of a member of our community and a dear neighbor. He had been married for 58 years. He is remembered as a man who'd been generous with those "little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness" (Wordsworth). As Christian Bovee once said, "Kindness is a language the dumb can speak and the deaf can hear and understand." Small acts of kindness seem so inconsequential. Yet our Lord indicates that they pay big dividends (Matt. 25:34-40). In the coming week, why not experiment with kindness to see what a difference it really makes to other people? Kindness doesn't take a lot of ingenuity. Little things like a warm smile and an encouraging word will do. 

Saturday, January 14, 2023

Our "God-Breathed" Scripture (2 Tim. 3:16)

In 2 Tim. 3:16, the KJV reads "given by inspiration of God." That's 5 words. The RSV reduced this to 3 words: "inspired by God." But the Legacy Standard Bible (apparently following the NIV here) has 1 word: "God-breathed." I'll go with the latter in that the Greek too has only 1 word: theopneustos. The NEB, incidentally, reads "Every inspired scripture is useful ...." This is dreadful. To say "every inspired scripture" implies that there are other Scriptures that are not inspired. That is certainly not what Paul meant here. The very word "Scripture" means inspired writing. "Uninspired Scripture" is a contradiction. If it is Scripture, it is inspired. 

Thank God for the Bible. Where would we be without it? Thank God that he has not abandoned us to the whim of so-called scholars or to grope our way through life in thick darkness. He's given us a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. Thank God he's given us in Scripture a rock on which to stand. What a privilege to believe what it teaches and obey what it commands, all because it is "God-breathed." 

Getting Older? Say la Vee

Today I ran indoors. I normally love to run outdoors even in cooler temps but not if the wind is blowing. So today it was back to the gym for me. As per usual, I avoided the dreadmill and preferred to run in place with some very light weights. 

If you live in Virginia you know that we get hit with crazy weather patterns, and sometimes the wind can get extreme. But what I dislike the most about windy days is how cold it gets outdoors. The older I get, the more sensitive I seem to be to cold temps. You just have to accept it. C'est la vie, or "That's life," as the French say. I don't know about you, but I plan on running till I die, jogging through the halls of my nursing home between strained peas for lunch and the evening Bingo game. Seriously, I hope to run until my body wears out on me completely (hopefully it's not this year). The thing about aging is that you have to scale back a bit and maybe think of doing fewer big races (like marathons) each year. I think I also need to cut back on my total annual miles. The 1,000 or so I put on my body last year is probably too much considering the amount of weight training I've been doing. 

I've also found that stretching (something I HAD NOT been doing regularly) becomes even more important as you age, especially if you've been having issues with tendonitis in your heel, as I have. For me, this means stretching every time I go to the gym and always after a hard day of running. 

Do not be jealous of my paunch. You will have one someday too, I promise you. I will say, though, that there are tons of helpful resources out there with great advice for how to stretch and strength train and avoid injuries, etc. 

I've been blessed not to have had any major injuries since I started running 7 years ago. My philosophy has been that despite the niggles that come with regular exercise, running is a precious gift from the Lord and one that has some decent health benefits. As with anything if life, you have to be willing to take risks. How in the world are we supposed to live life to the fullest if we worry about every little thing that could happen to us? Life isn't perfect. Get used to it. C'est la vie. (I do, however, think it's necessary to be responsible.) Don't be an idiot, and be sure to listen to your (aging) body. We all move through the stages of life at different speeds. The only thing you can count on is that things are temporary. Be willing to adapt and pivot as you go along. 

The most important thing to do is to listen to your body. In most cases, it will let you know what it needs, and when it needs it. Right now my body is telling me to take a nap, and I will obey it even though my brain is going a million miles an hour.

P. S. For more info on how aging affects your running, read this very informative article in Runner's World

Friday, January 13, 2023

God, the Grandfather?

Have you noticed? God is often portrayed in the Scriptures as a Father but not, to my knowledge, as a grandfather. The reason seems obvious. A father's role is a complicated and varied one. He is to love and care for his children, yes, but he is also to instruct and discipline them. In contrast to that, the role of a grandfather is a very simple one. Our job is to pamper and spoil our grandkids, including these six wonderful grandsons. 

Love you boys! 

On the Two Words for "Burden" in Gal. 6:1-5

I grew up reading the King James Version. I don't use it much today though I still think it's an excellent translation. I can recall reading this passage when I was a teenager. 

Note the underlined words. I was confused. If we are to bear one another's burdens, then why am I asked to bear my own burden? But anyone who knows the Greek here realizes there's no contradiction. Paul uses two different words for "burden." In verse 2 the word is barÄ“; in verse 5 the word is phortion. The former usually referred to a heavy weight or load, whereas the latter word was the common term for a person's "pack." Hence there are two kinds of burdens in life. There is a burden that is too heavy for one person to carry. There is also a burden we cannot and should not share with others. When you go hiking, for example, you carry a pack that is light enough for you to carry by yourself. 

By analogy, this applies to those responsibilities in life that are ours and ours alone. I can't carry your pack, and you can't carry mine. Hence verse 5 is better rendered "Each man will have to bear his own load." That said, we are also responsible to bear another's "burdens" since these burdens are too heavy for that person to bear alone. Such burdens must be carried jointly. Paul doesn't tell us what kinds of burdens he has in mind here. In light of verse 1, which refers to a Christian who has been tripped up by sin, Hendriksen thinks that the primary application "is the duty to extend help to the [fallen] brother so that he may overcome his spiritual weaknesses" (Galatians, pp. 232-233). This may well be the case. And note: the existence of pastor-elders in a congregation does not relieve members of their responsibilities to care for one another. On the contrary, all believers are to "admonish," "encourage," and "help" one another (see 1 Thess. 5:14). 

What about it? There's something both touching and, well, very human about Paul's instruction here. You get the idea that personal relationships meant something special to him. Unfortunately, we forget that each of us -- you, me, your spouse, your mom and dad, your pastor -- is in desperate daily need of a Savior, not to mention a good, old-fashioned friend to encourage us, talk about things that matter, help build our faith, and explore with us the darker side of our souls. 

In this regard, things really haven't changed much since Paul wrote to the Galatians two thousand years ago. 

Thursday, January 12, 2023

Why I Observe Sheep

After my Bible time and gym workout this morning, I spent some time in the pasture with the sheep. I enjoy the fellowship, plus I was observing them. 

Part of our flock. 

What can I learn from them and their patterns of behavior? 

I hope that doesn't strike you as odd. Sir Francis Bacon, the 17th century philosopher, once said that God has not written one book but two. He said that the first is the book of his work, which we call nature. And the second is the book of his word, which we call Scripture. Thus God has given us in nature and Scripture a double revelation of himself -- a revelation of his glory ("the heavens declare the glory of God") and a revelation of his grace ("by grace are you saved"). You won't find the way of salvation in nature. As I said, nature is a revelation of God's glory. Scripture is a revelation of his grace. And God intends for us to study both of his revelations, so that nature study and Bible study go hand in hand. God has hidden his thoughts, as it were, in both nature and Scripture, and as we read and study both we are able to "think God's thoughts after him" (Johannes Kempler). Did not Jesus say, "Consider the birds of the air"? As for sheep, Jesus called himself the Good Shepherd and taught us in John 10 just how a New Testament shepherd/pastor can and should function. 

Luther, in preaching on the Sermon on the Mount, said "Let the little birds be your theologians." He was right. I once wrote an essay called My Horses, My Teachers. The fact is, we have as many teachers and preachers as we have birds and horses and sheep and cattle and dogs and cats. I've been trying to learn some lessons from our sheep, not least that we can trust God for the supply of all our needs. That in itself is a wonderful lesson. Jesus said that even sparrows have intrinsic worth. And if sparrows do, how much more do human beings? If the great God of heaven concerns himself with ragtag sparrows -- the scruffiest of all birds -- he most certainly will care for us. This is what scholars call an a fortiori argument -- a "how much more" argument. If God cares for the less, he also cares for the greater. If he cares for insignificant sparrows, how much more will he care for us? God created sparrows. That's why they have worth. And God created human beings in his own image and likeness. That's why we have much more worth than sparrows. 

I needn't go on. I think you get the point. Let me close with another passage from the Gospels. In Matt. 12:11-12, Jesus says, "What if one of you has a sheep and it falls into a deep hole on the Sabbath? Will he not take hold of it and lift it out? A man is worth much more than a sheep! So then, our Law does allow us to help someone on the Sabbath." Yes, God draws lessons from sheep. He also cares for them. So do I. And everytime I see them, I am grateful to their Creator.