Tuesday, July 25, 2023

My Hawaii Trip "Agenda"

I'm caught up on all my farm chores and so I leave feeling like the farm is going to operate just fine. My kids will take good care of it while I'm gone. This morning my Bible time was in 1 Thess. 5:12-28, where Paul describes the church as a family. 

The term adelphoi ("brothers") occurs 17 times in 1 Thessalonians and 5 times in this chapter. It's not a sexist word. The word in the Greek refers to both brothers and sisters, like the German Geschwister or the Spanish Hermanos

It's sad that we don't have an unsexed kind of word in English. Maybe we can resurrect brethren. Anyway, it is vitally important for us to remember that the Christian life is a family affair. When we gather this coming Sunday, let's remember that God is our Father and we are all hermanos. We love each other as sisters and brothers in the same family. We want to support one another, and we look up to our pastors and leaders as kind of elder brothers who are set over us in the Lord. 

This morning I also got in my last workout at the Y in South Boston for a while. Thankfully, Kailua has its own Y that I plan on using. 

I've got a surfboard lined up as well as a sailboat, and my hike to Kaena Point is a definite go. This time tomorrow, Lord willing, I will be surfing at Kailua Beach. The next day I plan to surf Queens, my favorite spot on the South Shore, followed by paddling with my canoe club in the evening. Friday is the hike. Saturday is for sailing. Sunday I'll be speaking in Salt Lake near Pearl Harbor. Monday and Tuesday I return to Waikiki. 

My early Christian life was shaped in this place. As I return to the islands, I want to embrace all that God has for me. I want to take in the sights again, revisit my childhood haunts, share food with friends, be fed spiritually and feed others. I want to hear stories and laugh. I want to set new goals for myself. I want to reset my priorities if I need to. Not every life is ruined by colossal blunders or gross sin. Highest casualties are among the slaves of the trivial. At the same time, even humble and very ordinary things (like surfing) can be holy and full of God. 

I am eager to draw closer to God. 

Monday, July 24, 2023

Read AND Think

Less Bible study with more concentration is superior in every way to reading long passages of Scripture without thinking about what you're reading. 

Setting an Example

If you are older, remember that your grandchildren are watching how you take care of your soul and body to learn how to take care of theirs. 


When I was growing up, only nonconformists got tattoos. Today, so many Westerners get tattoos that not having a tattoo is more nonconformist than having one. 

Gettin' Antsy for Hawaii

Do you ever get Wanderlust? I've got a strong case of it today. If I could get on the plane today I would. There is so much to look forward to. The weather.

The waves in Kailua. 

And maybe, just maybe, I will have a chance to practice my Hawaiian. Check out these loanwords from English. That is crazy cool. 

I've got to admit: traveling brings me so much joy. I especially love the mornings in Kailua watching the sunrise. It reminds me of the Psalm I read this morning in Hebrew. In Psalm 130:6, I saw these words:

This is such beautiful Hebrew. And it's real easy too. Any beginning student of Hebrew knows all the vocab and grammar to be able to translate these words. I think the Living Bible nails it:

"I long for him more than sentinels long for the dawn." 

One of the perils of "mellowing with age" is that we grow more apathetic to the things of God. Please, Lord, don't let that happen to me. Take my days in Hawaii, each of them a gift from you, and renew a red-hot devotion for you in my soul. May you become more important to me than any place or experience. I am deeply conscious of my need for you. Only you can satisfy, and if I do not drink of the Living Water the only alternatives are the broken cisterns aplenty in this world. May I drink deeply of you, so deeply that I shall overflow to the glory of God and the blessing of others.

Sunday, July 23, 2023

George Washington (and Dave) Go to Williamsburg

Well, I'm back from Williamsburg and I can't wait to share with you what the last two days were like. Since it was a triathlon I was going to participate in, I wasn't able to get any pictures of the event itself, so I guess my sophisticated artwork will have to do insead. 

As you can see, I not only wanted to race but to leisurely enjoy the history and architecture of WBurg. I mean, being up close and personal with the Governor's Palace was kinda mind-boggling. 

Man, they knew how to build things back in the day. Just check out the architectural precision and craftsmanship. 

Today, new houses are faux houses. Take the one I stayed in last night with Airbnb. The doors looked like wood but they weren't. The bath tile looked like ceramic but it wasn't. The towel racks looked like metal but they weren't. I'm not picking on my Airbnb. That's just the way houses are made these days. No likee.

I mentioned this church the other day. It's the Bruton Parish Church. Washington, Jefferson, etc. all attended there. 

And guess what? They "just happened" to have an organ concert there last night. Did I attend? Are there cockroaches in Hawaii? 

The music was magnificent. I ran into one of their vestrymen and he told me that the following are all paid professionals:

  • Music director
  • Choir director
  • 2 organists
  • Each section leader in the choir (soprano, alto, tenor, bass)

Furthermore, every choir member is paid. He told me it was basically Rockefeller money and I believe him. Here, by the way, is Washington's "box." 

Now, here is the Custis Tenement. 

Obviously, the word "tenement" didn't refer to a block of run-down apartment buildings in the 18th century. It meant "rental property." This one, the Custis Tenement, was managed by none other than George Washington and Martha Custis from 1759-1778. Can you imagine being a tenant of George Washington? I can't. "Excuse me, my lord, but the toilet has backed up."

Okay. Let's check this house out next. 

It's the Peyton Randolph House, so named because Peyton Randolph lived there. (I like to explain the obvious.) Who is Peyton? Just the first president of the Continental Congress.

Moving on, here's the George Tucker House. 

Tucker was a law professor at the College of William and Mary. I love its architecture, don't you? Simple but breathtaking. 

Alright. It's time to talk about the race, don't you think? Here's the only pic I got pre- and during-race. It seems triathletes love their Jeep Rubicons and Subaru Foresters.

The race itself was a lot of fun. The swim leg was 400 yards in the James, which today was a very warm 86 degrees. Racers were seeded by their average swim times. 

I'm actually very pleased (and surprised) at my swim time. Remember the tri I did in North Carolina a couple of months ago? It took me 8 minutes and 12 seconds to swim 250 yards in that race. In today's race, it took me 8 minutes and 56 seconds to swim 400 yards. Now that felt pretty good. 

The next leg of the event was the bike. It was an easy 13.2 miles. Finally, you had to run a 5K (3.1 miles). Was it hard? Yep. But that's most of the fun. 

By the way, I missed winning my age division by a mere minute and a half. 

Even though I finished 88th out of 101 athletes, even though I was exhausted by the end of the event, even though the running websites won't mention me, even though no one knew about my demolition of my previous swim time, none of these non-events mean that I lost the race, because I didn't. I won my race, and that was good enough. So purists -- take a hike. 

As I staggered back to my car, I managed to get a picture at last. 

As they say, "Tired but happy." I, a lazy beach bum from Hawaii, had just completed my 12th triathlon. 

Well, that's my post-race report. I hope you enjoyed it. Apologies to every real sketch artist out there. 

Friday, July 21, 2023

Historic Williamsburg

If you know me, you know how much I love Colonial and Civil War history. And why not? I live in Virginia, after all. This weekend will see me in the very historic town of Williamsburg, which most people know for its amusement parks and water slides. But Williamsburg is much more than fun and games. Did you know that the city boasts the second-oldest college in America after Harvard? That's right. William and Mary College was founded in 1693, making it the only one of 9 colonial colleges in the South. In terms of other historical sites, Williamsburg forms one point of the "Historic Triangle" -- Jamestown, Williamsburg, and Yorktown. 

Yorktown is most famous as the site of British General Cornwallis's surrender to George Washington in 1781. Williamsburg also became the capital of Virginia after the state house in Jamestown burned down. That's why the cycling and running legs of this weekend's triathlon will be held on the "Virginia Capital Trail" that runs from the Williamsburg suburbs all the way to Richmond. I've biked its 52-mile length 3 times. 

Here's something else I bet you didn't know about Williamsburg. America's first psychiatric hospital was built there in 1770. It was called "The Public Hospital for Persons of Insane and Disordered Minds." Now that's a mouthful. The climate in Williamsburg is your typical Virginia fare: cool to mild winters, and hot and humid summers. You'll only see about 4 inches of snow each season, and not much rain during the summer. There are big breweries in the city, and who has never heard of its two theme parks (Busch Gardens and Water Country USA)? Like where I live, Willaimsburgers have a thick Southern accent. "House," for example, is pronounced "hoose." There are many historic buildings there, including the Peyton Randolph House, the Bruton Parish Church, and the magnificent governor's palace, as shown here. 

Who knows, maybe I'll get a chance to get some pictures of them this weekend. The forecast for the weekend calls for pretty nice temps and partly cloudy skies, so that's nice.

"Virginia is for Lovers," they say, and I do indeed love my adopted state. Williamsburg has a rich history and culture, and many people think it's an amazing place to live in. As with most college towns, it has a decidedly liberal bent, but the schools are good I hear. Its property taxes are lower than many other places in the country. The topography is woodsy, which I like, and there are lots of boating opportunities nearby on the James and York Rivers. 

If you are a history lover, then Virginia is one of the best places to live. Sure, the housing can be expensive in cities like Williamsburg, but that's mostly because people from Northern Virginia are retiring there and driving up the home prices. Despite its liberal bent, you will still hear "Merry Christmas" and "Happy Easter" during those seasons, and even people you don't know will greet you with a friendly "good morning." 

It will be good to get back there this weekend.

Why Not Try BIBLE HUB?

Howard Hendricks taught Bible Exposition at Dallas Seminary for over 50 years. He was known simply as "Prof." I attended his funeral at Stonebriar Community Church in Frisco several years ago. I cannot tell you how much he impacted my life through his writings and example. He once said, "Even though you don't know the original languages, you do not have to be at a disadvantage." I couldn't agree more. 

Want to give it a try? The next time you're studying your Bible, open your browser to a website called Bible Hub. Let's say you're studying the Great Commission in Matt. 28:19-20. Go to Bible Hub and click on the word GRK. Here you will find all of the Greek words used in your passage. 

One thing to be sure to notice are the words pasas tas hēmeras. This is literally "all the days," though in English we would probably say "every day" or "daily." Now that's not very obvious from your English Bible, which renders the expression as "always." You will also notice that the Great Commission contains only one main command ("make disciples") and three participles telling us how to go about doing that ("going," "baptizing," "teaching"). At this point, any good exegetical commentary on Matthew will round out your study of the Greek text. Don Carson's commentary is one of the best. 

In one of Gary Larson's cartoons, a French horn player's little daughter is looking at his sheet music and says, "Wow! Look at all those little black dots!" Greek words in a biblical text are like those black dots to most of us -- strange hieroglyphics that remain undecipherable. Don't let that stop you from consulting a resource like Bible Hub. There is no need to miss out on the very words of life that God has spoken. 

Thursday, July 20, 2023

I Love Farm Work

I could watch it all day :-) 

Nice and Easy Run Today

Good afternoon friends. Hope your day is going well. Things are jumping here in southern Virginia. This weekend, you can attend the annual Virginia Beach carnival or a Led Zeppelin concert or do yoga at the lake or do "Sip Sip Saturday Wine Tasting" or even attend "Freaknik 2023." Closer to home, this weekend in Clarksville ("my fair city") is the annual Lakefest, a 2-day arts and crafts festival when our quaint little town closes down for the weekend. There will be lots of out-of-town boaters and lots of people boozing it up, but at least the dozen or so antique stores in town will have a few people shopping in them. There'll be a kids run and hot air balloons, live entertainment and dancing, lots of food, and even the traditional "Gathering of the Boats." Of course, I'll have to miss this event because I'll be travelling a fews hours east for the Williamsburg sprint triathlon. Today was my last training day for the event. I got in a delightful 7 mile run at the HB Trail. 

Am I ready for the race? As ready as I'll ever be I guess. I'm kicking myself for waiting until yesterday to get my bi-weekly B12 shot. For some crazy reason my arm hurts like it's never hurt before after having one of those shots, so it'll be interesting to see how well I can perform in the swimming leg of the race. 400 yards with a bum arm is not something I'm looking forward to. That said, I found a superb deal on an Airbnb near Williamsburg that I'll really looking forward to. It even has a pool to practice my swimming in for loafing and tanning. Can't show up in Hawaii looking like shark bait, can we? 

Hope you find something fun to do this weekend! 

Wednesday, July 19, 2023

Ah, Oahu

Since I'll be there in a week, let's reminisce about Oahu shall we? Oahu is the best place to be raised. And the best place on Oahu is Kailua (biased, I am). Three of the most scenic roads in America are the Likelike, Pali, and H-3 highways that take you from Honolulu to Windward Oahu. 

The biggest problem with Oahu is that it's super expensive and getting more so. I just can't imagine what the rent is for a simple 1-bedroom apartment. But I guess you can say the same thing about New York or Boston. I used to go to the "neighbor islands" (as we called them) when I was younger, just for sightseeing. I took my board to the Big Island once but it was a wasted trip. Oahu still has the best waves. Private schools are very competitive to get into, and the public school system is not the best. I attended Kainalu Elementary, Kailua Intermediate, and Kailua High School. They weren't bad, and I certainly would have learned more had I studied harder. But you probably would cut class too if there were waves to catch every day. I never really noticed the isolation while growing up there, though I would get claustrophobia if I lived there today. There are always things to do and the weather makes you want to be outdoors, which is a good thing. Food is a great part of life here, from shave ice to lau laus to great Cantonese cuisine. Even today my rice cooker is my most used kitchen appliance. I do not, however, touch SPAM. Had too much of it growing up. I guess the main thing I would say is that if you aren't an ocean person, you'll probably never really and truly enjoy living on Oahu. Not everyone is a surfer or wants to go to the beach. As for the church there, thankfully there are many healthy evangelical congregations on Oahu. I'll be speaking at one of them a week from Sunday. Most congregations are multi-ethnic, which I love. I once spoke in a church that featured a hula dancer before the message. It was unbelievably lovely. But it's not just the churches that celebrate the many cultures that have come together on the islands. For me, Hawaii is truly a melting pot. We refer to our elders as "aunty" and "uncle." We hug and kiss. We celebrate May Day with lots of leis. The aloha spirit is undeniable. The 19 years I spent there were the best years of my life -- to that point. I loved living in Southern California for the next 27 years, and now I am in love with life in Southern Virginia. No, you can't find shave ice here, and I miss going barefoot everywhere. But I am content. 

Is Oahu worth visiting? As an Oahu local, the short answer is yes. Hawaii is never far from my heart. In fact, I try to go through life with a little slice of Hawaii in my mind. 

Honor Your Leaders!

Wonderful time in God's word this morning. 

Let's take a closer look. 

In 1 Thess. 5:12-13, Paul describes the attitude congregations should adopt toward their leaders. 

That's a tall order I might say! But note: Paul is not saying that we should put our leaders on a pedestal or hero-worship them. You see that happen when celebrity pastors have fan clubs. That can happen in a church of any size. Nor is Paul saying that we owe our leaders blind or unthinking loyalty. He is urging us to esteem them, not to think they're infallible. What Paul wants us to do is recognize godly leadership for what it is -- service of others that is born out of love. That is honorable.

Let's ask the Lord to give us the desire and determination to follow through with the application. As the word of God permeates our souls, it enables us to see where improvement is needed. 

Tuesday, July 18, 2023


While back in the Islands I plan to rent a sailboat at the Ala Wai Yacht Harbor and sail around Mamala Bay south of Waikiki. I'm a huge fan of Christopher Cross's classic song Sailing. The idea is being out on a sailboat where everything is serene and tranquil. Cross often speaks about how the song he wrote was a metaphor for existence and how sailing with a friend helped him through a particularly dark time in his life. That's what the outdoors does for some people. I never once took the beauty of Hawaii for granted while growing up there. Whether it was looking at the mighty Koolau Range or the beauty of the Mokulua Islands, the outdoors always sent my heart sailing. The second verse of the song really sums up for me where God's wondrous creation takes me:

It's not far to never never land

No reason to pretend

And if the wind is right you can find the joy 

Of innocence again

Oh, the canvas can do miracles, just you wait and see

Believe me. 

In 1980 the song sailed away with honors for Record of the Year and Song of the Year. 

Sailing, like running, is a metaphor for life. On the surface it's called sailing in a boat or running on a trail, but more deeply it speaks to the good and bad experiences of life. People who don't sail or run have a romantic notion of both sports, whereas those of us who actually sail or run know that the true definition of both activities is hours and hours of boredom interspersed with moments of ecstatic joy. And that's why we love it. 

You don't have to be a sailor to enjoy Cross's Sailing. It's all about the voice and the music, and he could have substituted "surfing" or "hiking" and it would still have been a hit. All in all, to me sailing is about being removed from a mundane environment and being mentally connected with something else, be it the sea or a mountaintop. I can't express in words what sailing from Maui to Oahu meant to me as a teenager. But I can remember thinking, "This is what heaven is like." The feeling of moving with the wind. The feeling of being one with nature. The sound of the water and the seagulls. The gentle but natural heeling of the yacht. 

No other experience on earth is like being carried across the water in near silence by the power of the wind. 

My Day (So Far)

Studied Acts 5 this morning at Bo's. Lookie here:

Peter and John "entered the temple courts and began teaching the people" (Acts 5:21). They then "continued teaching the people" (Acts 5:25). In fact, "day after day they never stopped teaching" (5:42). Teachers never retire. Apparently there's no expiration date on the gift of teaching. NEVER STOP TEACHING!

Then I got in my workout at the Y. 

Then I drove home. I love this field of corn on my road. 

A neighbor planted it. I miss the days when we grew corn. How can you call it a farm if it doesn't have corn?????!!!!!

Got home and checked on the sheep. Yep, all present and accounted for. 

I grabbed a quick mater sandwich. 

I mowed Maple Ridge and its outbuildings.

Then it was Bradford Hall's turn. 

I checked in on Ishi. 

Last week he developed a limp but today's he's almost back to normal. Nothing a little hoof care can't cure.

Then it was time to cut down the trees growing along the fence lines. 

Everything came down except for Becky's rosebush and the blackberries. 

It was a project I had been procrastinating to do but I'm happy to finally check it off my list. I do believe the sheep are happy too. 

Then I limbed the trees in my yard.

This looks better don't you think?

That's it for now. Rain is expected this evening and I'm only halfway through my list. Cheers! 

Monday, July 17, 2023

The Value of Reading

Bible reading is great for your spiritual growth, but did you know that reading exercises the brain, improves concentration, increases general knowledge, improves sleep, and prevents cognitive decline? 

To Tri Or Not To Tri?

*Spontaneous.* Adj. Performed or occurring as the result of a sudden inner impulse or inclination and without premeditation or external stimulus.

I'm not anything if not spontaneous. I've got one weekend before Hawaii so why not find a nearby triathlon this weekend and give it a go? And is there a better spot for a swim than the mighty James, though it does seem a bit sacrilegious to hold a race so close to historic Jamestown. I mean, what would good ol' Captain John Smith have thought about that?  

I enjoy running. I enjoy cycling. I enjoy swimming. Combining all three is even more fun. I love triathlons mostly because of the sheer exhaustion afterwards. You feel like you've been through the ringer. At the same, it's such a satisfying feeling of accomplishment. Yes, it's a bit demoralizing when you're being passed all the time, but if all I thought about is why people pass me I'd never have the time to train let alone race. Begone, unworthy thoughts! We shall found a colony in the New World and then swim in the river before taking to our horses bikes and then running for our lives. Every man to his post! 


Just welcomed this little lady to our goat pasture. 

She loves to be scratched. 

The billy insists on his turn.

Yes, we spoil our animals. And why shouldn't we? 

Once More: Sloppy Agape

It's still common to hear someone say that the Greek verb phileō was considered inadequate by the New Testament writers to convey the idea of "divine love." I do indeed find it very interesting that the "love commands" in the New Testament use the verb agapaō instead of phileō. But think about this. Let's say we wanted to invent a noun that would mean "love for God" or "love for one's brother." What word would we use -- agapaō or phileō? Well, check it out for yourself. Here's a list of New Testament words I put together this morning. Notice that they all use the phil-prefix:

Did you see that the list includes "love for God" and "love for one's brother" and that both words employ the phil-prefix instead of the agap-prefix? A recognition of this fact will hopefully keep us from committing an exegetical fallacy about the supposed default meaning of agapaō. Yes, it is true that the New Testament concept of selfless love is generally conveyed by the agapaō-word group. But this fact hardly fits the use of this verb in such passages as 1 John 2:15 ("Do not love the world") and Luke 11:43 ("Woe to you Pharisees, because you love the most important seats in the synagogues"), not to mention 2 Sam. 13:15, where the Septuagint uses the verb agapaō to describe an act of incest!