Wednesday, May 31, 2023

June Is Birthday Month

The Lord permitting, I will celebrate my 71st birthday on June 9. To "toast" (figuratively) this milestone, I've signed up for two races, the first being this Saturday down in the great city of Durham, NC. I will take this 5-mile race slow and easy. I will ENJOY it. 

A week later I'll be participating in the first of three triathlons I hope to do this summer (Lord willing!). Can I podium? Stay tuned .... 

I don't know about you, but I plan on running till I die. I just read over at Let's Run about a 96-year old Canadian woman who set a new world record in the 5K, running it in 51 minutes and 9 seconds. I don't think there's any doubt that activity can improve, maybe not the length of your life, but at least the quality of it. I mean, seriously, who would NOT want that? There's no way to lose a race. Every single person who runs one wins. Just because I finished the Bolder Boulder slower than about one third of the field doesn't mean that I didn't win the race because I did. My philosophy has always been that despite the risks of running, running is a gift and is far better than being inactive. As long as you don't beat up your body and give it TLC in the form of rest and recovery time, do what you love to do, be it jumping out of airplanes or skiing down a slope or photographing mountain peaks. I think aging gets a bad rap. It doesn't mean losing your edge or giving up on living. Running a race -- at any distance -- gives you a crash course in gratitude, patience, perseverance, and the feeling of knowing you've set goals for yourself. I'm not a gifted athlete but I am a tenacious one, and in sports that can take you a long way. So celebrating my birthday by participating in a couple of easy races seems like just the right thing to do. 

Heartburn Hill

Ask anyone who's run the Bolder Boulder. The race finishes with a brutal uphill section. No, it's not exactly the equivalent of Boston's Heartbreak Hill. We might call it Heartburn Hill. Even the elites complain about it.

So I guess I can be excused for taking a break this afternoon once I taught my Greek class. After all, I had finished BEFORE the elites did, and that has got to mean something. 

You'll notice that the book I'm reading is about Mount Everest. My kids once asked me if I was going to attempt to climb Everest. It is human nature to want to seek the unusual, the exceptional, the audacious. I'm not exempt from this urge. But Everest? I told my kids, "Your dad may be dumb but he's not stupid." Still, something inside me (heartburn?) feels the need to go for the top in every area of life. I am an athlete not because I want to be one but because I have to be one. I know of no other way to live. 

Everest is out. But what about another 14er or two in the Rockies? Now THAT sounds like fun. 

Go Conner!!!

Bolder Boulder 2023 Race Report

Just back from Boulder -- home of the University of Colorado, yoga, tattoo parlors, bike lanes, photo enforced speed limits (nobody speeds in Boulder), cannabis farms, spectacular scenery, and the world's largest 10K race. It's arguably the biggest two weekends in the Denver metro area, with the Colfax Marathon last weekend and the Boulder Bolder this weekend. Bolder Boulder is really doing a great job by finishing in Folsom Stadium at CU in front of all the other runners. In my opinion, this race ranks as one of the best you can ever experience. I give an A+ gold star to the race directors for great video coverage of the elite men's and women's races on the jumbotron. I loved the aerial shots. Remember, this is one of those odd races where the elites run AFTER the public later in the morning, starting at 11:00 and finishing about 30 minutes later before a crowd of 50,000 racers in the stadium who've already run. The elite field is an international one, including professional athletes from the US, Great Britain, Kenya, Tanzania, and many other nations. This year the men's race was a real thriller, with American Conner Mantz just beating out a Kenyan runner. At mile 5, Conner fell way behind and then, bam, he was right back in the game. I yelled myself hoarse when he entered the stadium and broke the tape. USA! USA! 

In case you didn't know, Boulder is a super fit city. It reminds me a lot of Raleigh in this regard. So it's not surprising that the city would host what I'm calling "The World's Greatest Block Party." The whole city shuts down for the runners, and there are crowds cheering you on literally every inch of the course. 

There are so many good, God things about my weekend that I know I won't be able to cover everything. Let's start with my Airbnb. It's that little house you see on the grass. 

(Kidding.) Actually, I stayed in a lovely country home only 6 miles from Boulder and about the same distance from a town called Lafayette. All the comforts of home at the fraction of the cost of a hotel downtown. I was up and at 'em early everyday and found an IHOP where I could grab some breakfast and spend some time in my Bible. 

All three mornings I ate there the place was completely empty except for yours truly. 

I told my server that you can't get a seat in an IHOP in Raleigh at 6:00 am, the place is so crowded. I'm chalking it up to the fact that the students have all left town for the summer. But with 50,000 people in town for the race, it was surprising nonetheless. 

As for outdoors activities, I was able to get to several places on my bucket list. You can't visit Boulder without hiking to Boulder Falls up in the mountains. 

It was flowing torrentially due to the spring melt. I also got in a 4 mile shakeout run at this park. 

It's at the foot of the Flatirons. Tourists often refer to the Flatirons as a mountain range, but locals call it a rock formation, and a very unique one at that. 

I'd climb them if I had the courage, but alas -- they are way beyond my skill level. Something to enjoy at a distance though. Finally, before heading back to the airport yesterday I drove south of Denver to snap a picture of the famous Red Rocks outdoor amphitheater. 

How I would enjoy watching a live concert here.

Did I mention the local cuisine? My teeth just about fell out when I discovered that Lafayette had -- of all things -- an Ethiopian restaurant. I dined here twice. 

Then, after the race on Monday, I had dinner at the local Nepalese restaurant. The food was absolutely delicious -- hot and spicy.

Now to the race itself. The first wave kicked off at 6:55 am. 

Man, these dudes were fast. The guy in the banana suit was really "peel-ling" out. This was my view as I waited in line for my wave to start.  A sea of humanity!

An hour and a half later we arrived at the start line.

We were all more than ready to release all our pent-up energy. Suddenly we were off. 

To say that the race was well organized would be a huge understatement. I counted at least 20 bands inspiring us runners to keep going. 

My biggest concern going into this 10K was how I would be affected by the elevation. 

Thankfully, however, my body didn't seem to notice in the slightest that it was running at an elevation of over a mile. I have my parents to thank for that since it's all a matter of genes. (Some really fit people can't handle elevation.) Finally, the moment we'd all been waiting for -- arriving at Folsom Stadium for a finish line experience that can only be compared to what I imagine finishing a race in ancient Greece must have felt like. (Heb. 21:1 -- "Since we have such a huge crowd of spectators watching us from the stands.") 

It was amazing. 

Final Thoughts: Running a race means different things to different people. I wanted to run a race I could be proud of. In the end, I finished in 20,446th place out of 50,000 runners. Just think. If I can improve by a mere 5,000 places each year, I could win this race in 4 years :-) 

Listen. I went running, and that was the main thing. To do so with 50,000 other people from all walks of life made it so much the better. Everywhere I went I had a chance to become acquainted with my fellow athletes and other people I met. When possible, I shared my testimony with them, as I did with the sweet owner of the Ethiopian restaurant and her niece. 

Let's face it. Running may be satisfying, but the only true satisfaction comes from walking with Jesus day after day after day. That said, I still enjoy running during my daily walk with the Lord. Running is hard but that's why we do it. I know my body pretty well. I know that if I didn't exercise I would probably sit on my front porch eating Doritos all day. Something physiologically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually satisfying starts to happen when you run. This transformation is so powerful that you can't wait for your next run. 

At mile 5 during the Bolder Boulder. 

Running (I hope) makes me a better person inside and out. Trying for new goals and meeting new faces will never get old. 

I can't conclude this post without a special thank you to the One who makes all this possible -- the One in whom we live and move and have our being. Nothing would be possible without his grace. THANK YOU. 

Friday, May 26, 2023

Happy Memorial Day

May you have a safe and blessed weekend. Enjoy the time with your family, and let's never forget those who served and sacrificed. 

God bless the USA. 

Friday Musings

After spending a week teaching in Wake Forest it feels oh so refreshing to be back on the farm, probably the one place I'd rather be than anywhere else on the planet. There's always something going on here. 

Alas, my stay will be short-lived as (Lord willing) I fly to Denver tomorrow. The meteorologists that I've read all seem to agree that the next few days ought to be partly cloudy but dry for the most part in Boulder. I'll take that as good news any day. As you know, I usually try and plan a year of races well in advance. But this trip was a spur of the moment thing. I'm still very very very much on the fence about my next marathon this year. I was thinking about doing the St. George (Utah) Marathon again, but then a friend told me he was running the Greensboro Marathon (also in October) and invited me to run it with him, so I am still undecided. Stay tuned. 

By the way, I am tired of eating out, so much so that I couldn't wait to cook some stir fry for dinner when I got home. 

The truth is, I usually gain weight when I eat out too much. My body type is large to begin with. I can't really afford to engage in too much unhealthy behavior. Yet you will never hear me say "diet." I just try to use common sense. Avoid as many processed foods as possible. Eat real fruit, real vegetables, eggs, dairy, and healthy fresh fish and meat. Don't try to be perfect. Think about the quality of the food you eat, not just the amount. 

I like to state the obvious.

This book was waiting for me when I got home today. One of my former students wrote it and I liked it so much I wrote an endorsement that appears on the inside cover. 

At any rate, tomorrow my trip kicks off, which means I won't be blogging for a few days. I'm staying at an Airbnb out in the country. Here's what my room looks like.

Furthermore, as you can see, the place has great views of the famous Flatirons, which I wish I could climb before the race but that would destroy my legs. Maybe next time. 

Pretty nice, eh? Check in is tomorrow at 3:00. By the way, my youngest grandchild had his 2nd birthday this week. 

Just had to get that little burst of Ira cuteness out of the way. I love those curls. 

So much to be grateful for. I enjoy my life, including my running. My body lets me do this. My family and friends support me. My mind is strong. Be thankful for all of it. 

Matt. 28:20: "Always" or "All the Days"?

Good morning, folks! I hope you've had a great week. I'm often asked, "So why do you think studying Greek is so important? Can't I just rely on my English translations?" Well, yes and no. The fact is, sometimes what the text is saying in Greek is masked in even our most accurate and reliable English versions. 

This morning, for example, I was in Matthew's Gospel again. I wanted to review how the Hebrew translated the Greek of Matt. 28:20 -- a verse we all know: "Behold, I am with you always, even until the end of the age." 

The Hebrew here is  amazing! 

Here's how it compares with the Greek:

Please look at the middle line above. Did you notice that the Greek has three words: pasas tas hēmeras. The Hebrew has two words: qol hayamim. Both mean exactly the same thing: "all the days." However -- and for the life of me, I don't know why -- English Bible translators have chosen to use only one English word to translate those three Greek words. Can you guess what that word is? ALWAYS. This word is found in all of your standard English versions, including the following:

  • NIV
  • NLT
  • ESV
  • KJV
  • NASB
  • CSB
  • GNT
  • NET
  • NRSV

However, I want you to see something. I want you to see how other languages have rendered the three Greek words we've discussed above. Here are a few examples:

German: alle Tage or jeden Tag

French: tous les jours

Portugues: todos os dias

Spanish: todos los días

Latin: omnibus diebus

Plattdeutsch: aule Doag

Italian: tutti i giorni

I'd be curious to know what the Chinese and Japanese have here but I don't know a word of either language. But the point should be obvious. Apparently Jesus is not simply saying, "I am with you always." He's saying something similar to the way we rendered his words in the ISV:

"I am with you each and every day." 

Other possibilities come to mind:

  • at all times
  • daily
  • day by day by day

Don't miss this! Greek has a perfectly good way of saying "always." Even my beginning Greek students know what it is:


It ain't used here, folks. Jesus uses "all the days" (as the Greek and the Hebrew show us). And why? Here's my guess:

1. The work of making disciples -- converting them, baptizing them, teaching them -- is a daily obligation placed upon us. 

2. Hence we need to rely on the Lord not just "aways" but "each and every day" if we are going to fulfill his Great Commission. Jamieson-Fausset-Brown agree when they say that Jesus is with us "not only to perpetuity, but without one day's interruption." 

Frankly, I don't see this emphasis in those versions that simply say "always." Do you? 

Anyhow, I had such a rich time in God's word this morning, and I think a big part of it was being able to read the text in both the original Greek and then in the Hebrew. What is so jarring about this verse is that it reminds me that I need to be intentional about evangelism and discipleship each and every day of my life. Jesus' words are a gadfly in the ointment of my otherwise self-centered existence. In this sense, Christianity is inescapably missional. I will also say this. Evangelicals are, I think, often prone to anti-intellectualism and slavish adherence to tradition. These unfortunate traits often lead us to a disparagement of logical reasoning and to a failure to give adequate attention to the details of Scripture. Superspiritulaity leads many conservatives to superficiality. 

Finally, as someone who lost my wife and my closest friend 10 years ago, I am so blessed and encouraged to know that my Savior walks with me on a daily basis. I now realize, more than ever, that I must view each and every day as a day of opportunity to love and serve him. Am I "practicing the Presence," as the Keswick disciples used to say? Am I living by true heart love for him or am I just going through the motions? Basking in Christ's presence -- that's where safety lies. 

Christ taught us in Matt. 28:20 that this life is not the end. It is but a short space of time in our endless existence. He says, in essence, Set your goal on heaven. Determine that you will live for eternity and not merely for time. And remember that I am with you day after day after day to help you do just that. 


Thursday, May 25, 2023

How to Succeed in School

How to succeed in school? Accept personal responsibility. Reject the road of ease and victimhood. That's it. 

Ye Shall KNOW the Truth

The theologian who insists that we can never possess the truth but only pursue the truth is himself oblivious to the fact that he is insisting on a "truth possessed" gospel. He's guilty of the very epistemology he's condemning. He possesses the "truth" that truth must not be possessed. Such a person will never know the truth or be free indeed. 

Studying for an Exam

Waiting to the last minute to study for an exam is like trying to borrow your way out of debt. 

A Scholar Is Known by His Writings

I first "met" Bo Reicke through his writings. I had considered asking him if I could become one of his doctoral students in Basel. But first I wanted to become familiar with him. And there is no better way to do that than through reading someone's writings. 

You say, "My prospective Doctor Father hasn't written all that much." Then you don't want to study with him. Scholarship means publishing. And Reicke's introduction to the New Testament era is a superb example of that. Biased am I? You bet I am. The man's balance between humanitas and pietas was exemplary. He is now with the Lord, but his influence will live on in my life forever. Thanks be to God.

I Love the Apostle Paul

Wow! Wow! WOW! Take a look at this! 

We all know Phil. 1:21: "For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain." But did you know that Paul is alluding to a well-known expression used by the Greeks? When asked, "How are you", they would often answer:

To zēn chrēstos!

"Life is good!"

Paul tales this memorable turn of phrase and turns it into a reference to Christ by making one very simple change in spelling:

To zēn christos!

"Life is Christ!" 

Paul wants his beloved Philippians to understand that if life is good as non-believers, life for Christians is so much better because life is Christ! And watch this -- because life is Christ, then dying is gain (kerdos). Paul's words even rhyme. Say these words aloud: 




Now do you see why I love Paul so much? The man was not only a missionary giant. He not only towers over Augustine or Luther or Barth. He not only wrote 14 books of the New Testament. ("14" is not a typo.) He not only spoke several languages. But he was a brilliant writer. Arguably no other New Testament author used literary devices like Paul did. What rigorous writing! What profundity! Sometimes his words cascade over me like a mighty waterfall. The depth is amazing. 

I can never God thank enough for that man. I love Paul!

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

I Love My Hebrew New Testament

There's no shame in admitting that you read your Hebrew NEW TESTAMENT more than you read your Hebrew Old Testament. 

Boulder Is Beckoning

It's on! I'm talking about the Bolder Boulder this weekend, of course. 

Since its inception in 1979, over 1.2 million runners have completed this 10K race. Today I got my corral assignment. In a normal race -- say, a major marathon like Chicago -- there are 5,  maybe 6, corrals for the runners to line up in before the race starts. You are "seeded" according to your average time in that event. Well, the Bolder Boulder has 99 corrals. Yes, I said NINETY NINE. I have been assigned corral 61. Middle of the packer, I am (said in good Yoda fashion). Usually I don't compete very hard in races since I am so slow. But 10Ks are the exception to that rule. I plan to go pedal to the medal in this event. My goal is to finish in my age group in the top 25-50 percent of runners. 

Might I fail? At what? Not being the fastest or the most skilled? No biggie. Who am I trying to impress anyway? The older I get (am I talking a lot about aging these days or what?????), I am learning to "go with the flow" -- accepting the adventures, imperfections, and detours that life throws at you. I think of verses like Deut. 24:7 ("Moses was 120 years old when he died, yet his eyes were not weak nor his strength gone") and Isa. 46:4 ("Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you"). I am doing this weekend's race because it's incredible and because it's BUCKET LIST MATERIAL. 

To prepare for the race, today I went to the Y here in Wake Forest and got in a fairly challenging workout. 

Then tomorrow, the Lord willing, I will do one last run before flying out to Colorado. Again, if the Lord's kindness permits, I hope to cross another race off on my bucket list. Yet there are still many more goals and dreams on my list. See all my grandkids graduate from high school. Return to Ukraine to teach in Odessa for the fourth time. Run a marathon in another country (like Greece). Run a 5K when I'm 99. Even if you only achieve two or three goals on your bucket list, they are still worth chasing down. I like how Henry Ford put it: "Whether you think that you can, or that you can't, you're probably right." Tomorrow is indeed another day for all of us. Only the Lord knows what it will hold. Be content where you are. Rest in him. Make the most of every opportunity he gives you to be active or to serve him. Remember: you are competing only against yourself and you need not compare, judge yourself, or let your ego take over. 

We Love Morphemes

If your beginning grammar doesn't break words down into their morphemes (individual units of meaning), then it's time to get a new grammar. 

Tuesday, May 23, 2023


There's a brand new barbeque joint in town that me and a friend tried out today. Actually, he had been here before and couldn't stop raving about the place. Indeed, the brisket was every bit as good as he said it would be. 

Today I took the day off from training to devote myself to a bit of R & R. No lifting. Nu running. Not even a walk. I'll do that tomorrow. The older I get, the more I realize the need for balance between work and play, between running and recovery, between sleep and being awake, between Hostess Cupcakes and broccoli. It's so easy to let life get out of whack, isn't it? So tonight I am going to watch a movie on Amazon Prime (have y'all seen The Covenant yet?) and not sure what else except to put my brain in park for a few hours. 

What are YOU doing today? 

Ya Gotta Love Them Participles

Today in Greek class we're studying participles. Greek is a participle-loving language. There are 7,491 verses in the New Testament, and 4,277 of them contain participles. 1 Cor. 7:30 has 6 of them! In Hebrews alone, there are 315 participles. 

This is just one page from Hebrews featuring participles. 

You simply cannot see what's going on, for example, in the warning passage of Heb. 6:4-6 without a good understanding of how the Greek participle works. 

No, this passage is not as difficult to interpret as you think. 

One of my doctoral students even wrote an entire dissertation just on the participles in Heb. 6:1-12. 

So class today will be great fun. Verses we'll be translating include:

  • Mark 1:14
  • John 1:29
  • Rev. 10:1
  • Rev. 1:3
  • Luke 11:14
  • Rom. 16:22
  • Rom. 5:1

Monday, May 22, 2023

Pushing Through Plateaus

How do you break through a plateau in your studies? Ask yourself: Do I need more motivation, or do I just need to buckle down and get the job done? Do I actually need help, or do I just need to stop procrastinating? 

Why Study Greek?

Don't just study Greek because it's an important tool for exegesis. Study Greek to enhance your walk with the Lord. 

Today's Break from Writing

I did it. I stopped writing and got out of the office today. It is too beautiful of a day to spend indoors. My writing can wait. Oh, I have writing deadlines just like everybody else who writes. But I find that exercise, rather than making me tired, energizes me. So, what else was there to do today than to head over to the Smith Creek Greenway in Wake Forest? 

I hated having to stop after only 5 miles, but I've got things to do tonight. 

Funny how you can enjoy workouts more when you share the greenway with other runners. 

So now, it's back to the office. I'm staying here in WF for the week to teach while the kids are on the farm taking care of business there. Again I'm reminded of just how fragile life can be. Who knows how many more years God will give me to be active? But every time I work outdoors or go for a run, my heart swells up with thanksgiving to the One who makes all this possible. In the meantime, I'm really looking to this weekend's race in Colorado. I think it's gonna be a blast. There is nothing more fun than running a 10K with 50,000 other people. If you live near Boulder, I'll see you there :-)