Thursday, August 31, 2023


"Meaning" is never our own subjective thoughts that we read into the text. It is God's objective truth that is read out of the text. This is what makes standpoint epistemology so dangerous. 

Becoming Word Vultures

Pay close attention to the words of Scripture. Don't just listen to your pastor as he gives you his thoughts about the text. Be an active listener. Study the words of the passage. I never attend church without my Greek New Testament, an English Bible, and a notepad. It's not unusual for me to leave the service with pages of notes. Interact with the text, be it at church, in your small group, or in your private time. Become, if you will, a word vulture. Pay careful attention to terms that in a hurried moment you'd look right past. This is essential for our own spiritual lives and for effectiveness in ministering to others. 

Aligning Our Churches with the Word of God

Yesterday and today I was in Acts 2 during my personal study time. 

If you're at all interested in New Testament ecclesiology, you might want to start by doing a deep dive into Acts 2:37-47 -- eleven verses that describe at least 7 marks of a vital, mature New Testament church. 

These marks are, I would say, the lowest common denominators of a healthy church. Will it be difficult? Absolutely. The adversary will stop at nothing to destroy the work of Christ. Be assured: A corporate mindset will not be able to detect a church that has accommodated itself to the world. It takes a deep commitment to the word of God to recognize it, followed by decisive action.

In a wonderful book on church life, Chuck Swindoll offers three suggestions for a way forward. 

1. Biblical thinking must override secular planning and a corporate mentality.

2. Studied, accurate decisions must originate from God's word, not human opinion.

3. Essential changes must occur to counteract any signs of erosion. 

Brethren, let's align our churches correctly with the word of God, sharing in the humble ministry of Jesus. Let's not consume the salvation Jesus made possible and then spurn the methods by which he achieved it. 

Trying to Perfect the Lat Pulldown

Today I worked on (among other things) lat pulldowns. The greatest danger in doing this exercise is failing to keep your elbows in the line of the pull. Flaring your elbows out happens when you pull the bar to your neck and not your chest. You should always try to pull the bar to about shoulder height. 

Keep your elbows slightly in front of you and then, in line with your hips, pull the bar down. You want to pull the weights using as little of your biceps as possible. Keep your focus on your lats and you'll quickly see a difference in how your lats are engaged.

Just another tiny step toward reaching my goal of climbing the Allalinhorn next summer. :-) 

Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Final Preparation for Monday's Triathlon

The Blackland Triathlon is a Labor Day tradition in the city of Plano, TX. As you may recall, Lord willing I hope to be a participant in this race next Monday while visiting mom in neighboring Murphy, TX. The distances are:

  • Swim: 300 meters
  • Bike: 13.5 miles
  • Run: 3.1 miles 

The pool we'll be swimming in. 

In order to improve my swim times, I've started doing 5 sets of 5 pullups daily. 

I also got in my final pre-race run today in Farmville. 

This will be triathlon #13 for me. Personally, I like to see the course before a race so that I can visualize myself out on the course and how I will cope with certain sections of it (the hills, for example), but it's just not possible for me to do this with this race. To be honest, I find triathlons incredibly challenging. I'm a good swimmer I guess, but that only makes things worse because I always feel like I should be faster in that leg of the race. As for the bike part of the event, there's a slim chance I will break any personal records as I will have to rent (and ride) an unknown bike from a store in Plano before the race. It's not about your time, I keep reminding myself, but you can't ignore the competitive side of your ego, now can you? 

I will say one thing, however. Triathlons give you a crash course in gratitude, perseverance, endurance, patience, and the rewarding feeling of knowing that by God's grace you have pushed yourself hard, broken through walls, and come out victorious on the other side (even when you place last in your age group). These races takes us to deepest recesses of self-doubt and pain, but they also lead to the opposite reaction of pride and the exuberant happiness that comes after a race. 

Sometimes when I'm in Dallas, I can feel Becky with me. I try to imagine what her reaction would have been had she been watching the race. I'd like to think that she would be proud of me. 

I know how I will feel. I will be full of gratitude to God for such an amazing experience.

Tuesday, August 29, 2023

Church: A Fellowship or a Production?

It is impossible for church leaders to say, "Our church is all about community," when their actions demonstrate the complete opposite (their church is actually all about a sophisticated Sunday morning production). 

What God Does with Our Tears

Today I met with a pastor friend who is mourning the loss of his mother. Oddly enough, this morning I was in Psalm 56 for my quiet time. I love these words of David (verse 8): "You have collected all my tears and have preserved them in your bottle. You have recorded every one in your book." And so it is with us: God is at work in our lives  turning our greatest pain into priceless, one-of-a-kind gems, just as a pearl is formed from an irritant. The joy comes from knowing that the difficulties God allows us to experience help us to draw closer to him. 

The lives of David, Joseph, Daniel, Paul, and my pastor friend all attest to this. 

Hammer Curls

Today I was practicing hammer curls. This is a variation of the biceps curl and works your upper and lower arm. It's a great upper body strength exercise. To perform it properly, you bend at the elbow, lifting your lower arm to pull the weight toward your shoulders. 

In addition to targeting the long and short heads of the biceps, the hammer curl also works the brachialis and brachioradialis muscles.

Luckily for me, the hammer curl is not difficult to master. For me, the hammer curl is all about increasing arm and forearm strength which will in turn assist me with my compound exercises such as the pull up. 

Onward and upward .... 

Monday, August 28, 2023

Authentic Worship

It's possible to worship on a sick bed. Or in the gym. Or even at a graveside. You don't need a church building or a praise band. Worship is simply part of our daily walk with God. 

The Web Versus a Mentor

Go to the Web for information. Go to a mentor for transformation. 


It's ironic that we say that the church of Jesus Christ is not a corporation when so many of our churches are business establishments with a CEO model of leadership. 

The "Best" Biceps Exercise

There's no need to obsess over what is the "best" biceps exercise. Whenever you do a pull up, lat pulldown, or row, you're performing elbow flexion which is the primary function of the biceps. Any basic biceps curl variation will lead to progressive overload over time. 

Language Learning Is Fun!

I'm at the office and having way too much fun. 

I'm tutoring a guy in Latin this afternoon and boy are we going to get into John 1:1 big time. The Latin is FANTASTIC. 

How can language learning be so much fun!!! 

Sunday, August 27, 2023

Berean Christians

Before we can judge the accuracy of a Sunday morning message, we have to know the Bible ourselves. 

Achieving Language Fluency

If you really wanna achieve fluency in a foreign language, forget about taking college courses. Go to a foreign country, stay there for a year, and avoid Americans. 

You're welcome. 

Languages Are Funny

Who else can vividly remember seeing this word on a car and thinking, "Why does this guy have the German word for empty on his car window?"

[Variation: "Why does this guy have the Spanish word for read on his car window?"

Only One to Go!

We've only got one morpheme to learn and we are DONE with the indicative mood. 

There ya have it! 

Do You Love Your Students?

School, as everyone knows, is back in session. If you're a teacher, I have a question for you. Do you love your students? Do they know that you love them? Paul's love for people is well-known. The relations between Paul and, say, his Christian friends in Philippi, were very loving, very intimate, and very tender. "I have you in my heart," he says in the opening of the letter. "God is my witness how I long for all of you with the affection of Jesus Christ." He calls them his beloved brothers and sisters and his joy and crown.

In short, he loves them.

Here are a few ways in which we can show our students that we love them:

  • Begin and end class on time.
  • Answer emails promptly.
  • Come to class well prepared.
  • Chat with students before and after class.
  • Keep your office door open.
  • Be available for personal tutoring.
  • Tell the class, "I love you." 
  • Offer extra credit on every quiz and exam.
  • Treat them respectfully.
  • Warn and admonish them when necessary.
  • Be to them like a gentle mother and a tender father (1 Thess. 2:7-12).
  • Overlook minor faults and failings.
  • Value their opinions.
  • Inspire them by your own example to live up to their potential.

Here's how Paul puts it in Rom. 12:7:

The Living Bible translates this as: "If you are a teacher, do a good job of teaching." I love that! Whatever our gifts are, let's employ them cheerfully and diligently. 

In short, BE the BEST teacher you can be. 

Saturday, August 26, 2023

Ashland Half Marathon 2023 Race Report

I just walked in the door after being in Ashland for their annual half marathon. It was nice to see so many post-Covid runners out there again. 

And the fields were amazing. 

This makes half number 42 for me. 

If the above leads you to conclude that I am a running expert, that would be a false assumption. No one lacks an aptitude for running like me. Thankfully, running is a sport you can be bad at and still participate in. I'm even worse at cycling. But as bad as I am at both sports, I keep on doing them because I enjoy them. To make things worse, I'm a competitive kind of guy who tries as hard as he can. That may come as a shock to bystanders, but it's true. As you know, my kids got me into running, so it's all their fault. There is no way of getting out of this. So might as well race, eh?

Oh, I did get a lot of cheers at the finish line. Who do they think I am -- an old guy? 

Friday, August 25, 2023

"Man Fully Functioning"

As y'all know, a couple of years ago I began to add weight training to my running routine. I actually think this is a very good idea. Many people view strength training in the gym as something that contradicts running training. In fact, I'm finding that gym training is highly beneficial to my running not least because it allows me to build strength. It's also helped me with my form and (terrible) posture while running. Your core plays a massive part in running, and for me, nothing has improved my core strength like pull ups. 

I've simplified my exercise program to include 3 gym sessions each week along with two outdoor running sessions, with a race about every other weekend as the icing on the cake. 

I use my races as a time for high intensity training. It's not about how fast I can go. When a race begins, I dial my body to a comfortable though challenging pace without caring how many minutes it takes me to finish the race. There is no place for shortness of breath or pain. All I need to do is run enough to open the sweat glands. After the race, I return home and take a  break from training for a couple of days. My goal is to reestablish homeostasis --  the process your body uses to return it to equilibrium. 

During tomorrow's half, runners all around me will be engaged in the same struggle. Most will be faster than me. But no one does less than their best. I am not diminished in any way by all those runners who are in front of me or increased by those behind me. Each of us is locked in combat with ourselves. 

Church father Irenaeus once said, "The glory of God is man fully functioning." Actually, I'm not too sure what he meant by that. I might put it this way: Find your place in God's order as far as your body is concerned, and you will find the peace that passes all understanding. 

Thursday, August 24, 2023

NFL Is Baaaaack

Watching Thursday Night Football on Amazon Prime. The NFC East is shaping up to be a slugfest. This could be the Steelers' year. They are looking good.

Two Word Study Hacks

Two word study principles to remember the next time you open your Bible:

1. The same word in the Bible does not always mean the same thing.

2. Each word normally has only one meaning in its context, as indicated by its usage in its sentence. 

You Get What You Give

Today's workout? Invigorating and amazing. There is NOTHING like pushing yourself to the edge. Honestly, when I was done I felt energized and giddy like a school child who had just played on the school playground. 

That said, I know for a fact that there's one thing I love more than exercising and that's studying and teaching the Bible. Maybe that's why Jesus used a rare verb in John 5:39. 

The NIV says, "You study the Scriptures." That's kind of weak. The NLT is better: "You search the Scriptures." The NASB has, "You examine the Scriptures." And the HCSB? "You pore over the Scriptures."

Understanding the Bible takes a lifetime of effort. As you study the word, you will be asking yourself, "What does this mean? Is this translation correct? Has So-and-So interpreted this verse correctly"? Determining what a passage really means involves all we have. For accurate exegesis to happen, we not only need regeneration but a reverence for God's word. Above all, we must depend on the Holy Spirit. He is not only the Author of the written word but it's supreme Expositor. However, the Spirit's part in interpretation does not suggest some mysterious work that is unexplainable or unverifiable. The good Bible student will approach the text with sound judgment and reason, seeking to be as objective as possible as he approaches Scripture. The teachings of the word of God are not inaccessible to the Christian who will work. Study. Search. Examine. Pore over. All this is necessary to remove the obstacles to understanding that stand in our way. 

In short, you get what you give

Tomorrow morning, as we open the word of God, we'll have another chance to put this into practice. 

Wednesday, August 23, 2023

Don't Ignore a Litotes

The Bible often uses a figure of speech called litotes. Litotes is simply a negative statement used to express an affirmation, as in "He is not a bad preacher" (meaning that he is a very good preacher). Don't miss this when reading your Bible. One example will suffice. In Acts 21:39, Paul says that he is "a citizen of no insignificant city." He meant that Tarsus was indeed a very significant city. See also Acts 12:18 and 27:30. 

Don't ignore a litotes! 

Sitting at the Feet of the Apostles

I appreciate a good Sunday sermon as much as the next guy. But you can sit at the feet of the apostles every morning when you open your New Testament. I invite you to join me. 

On the Road Again

Upcoming travels:

August 26: Ashland Half Marathon, Ashland, VA.

September 3: Grace Church for All Nations, Fort Worth, TX.

September 4: Blackland Triathlon, Dallas, TX.

September 15-17: Gwinnett Romanian Baptist Church, Lake Junaluska Conference Center, Junaluska, NC.

September 30: Virginia 10-Miler, Lynchburg, VA.

October 14: Park Street Baptist Church, Charlottesville, VA.

October 15: Bull City Half Marathon, Durham. NC.

Myths and Facts about Weight Gain

Myth: You get fat by eating fat.

Fact: You get fat by eating processed carbohydrates and sugars. 

Final Pre-Race Run

Man, did I enjoy today's long run -- my last one before Saturday's half marathon in Ashland, VA. 

My goal was to maintain a low heart rate -- zone 2 or 3 -- throughout my training run. 

I can't tell you how much I enjoy running. Since the days of ancient Greece, mankind has understood the importance of running and what it means to be active with your body. It brings out the best in every one of us -- including a 71-year old who loves challenges. I am an ordinary person participating in an extraordinary sport. I run, inspired to live, work, and behave with the Olympic spirit in my heart, doing my part to inspire others. 

Tuesday, August 22, 2023

Second Cuttings of Hay

Great to see the kids getting up their second cutting of the haying season. 

I remember one year when the Lord gave us 4 cuttings in one season. Unbelievable. It's really all up to him, isn't it? Thank you, Father. 

When Lifting, Always Use Proper Form

When you go to the gym, you'll do any number of exercises before you leave. If you lift light like I do, you'll do between 10-15 reps per set. But here's the deal. The number of reps you do is not nearly as important as how you do them. The key is to always, and I mean always, stop at failure. "Failure" to a lifter has a special meaning. It doesn't mean when you can't do the same exercise any more. It means when you fail to do it right. If you're doing a dumbbell curl and your form goes south before the end of the set, it's better to stop then and there. Go onto the next exercise. Or do an easier version of the same exercise. But for heaven's sake don't do it wrong. 

Taking pictures to show my sports physiologist in Wake Forest. 

That's less than useless. It's dangerous. When I started doing bench presses, I was unknowingly doing them all wrong. The result was a painful shoulder joint that took weeks to heal. When you ignore proper form, your body is in poor alignment. And that's a huge no no. You have to learn to perform your exercises correctly and you'll avoid all the dreadful problems I've experienced. Bad weight training is much worse than no training at all. Learn to do your exercises with proper form and give your joints time to get into the game and then you can add weight slowly and get better at your exercises. Take your time. Learn how to lift correctly. Correct workout form will come only from practicing each exercise perfectly. Spending time perfecting your form will lead to benefits that will last long into your later training years.

Why Not Join the Y?

It makes a lot of sense to join a gym. It gives your exercise life structure. It gives you a place to go. Gyms have trainers you can ask for advice. It doesn't have to be fancy. The Y works just fine. The YMCA has lots of classes if you're interested. Don't worry about being judged. Gym rats are remarkably tolerant of people who work out, regardless of their shape or age. Eventually you may come to see this place as a place to "get away to." Weird, I know, but true. Remember, your body craves the chemistry of exercise. Exercising with others is all that much better. 

One of my happy places. 

Don't Start with Application!

When doing exegesis, never begin with this question: "What does this verse mean to me?" This is precisely the worst question you could ask in your small group or Bible study when you open your Bible. It puts the cart before the horse. Applying the Bible is the last step in proper biblical interpretation, not the first. It's only after we've discovered the author's original meaning to his audience that we are ready to move on to the last step of application. 

Monday, August 21, 2023

An Hour a Day

If you have an hour for social media every day, you have an hour for serious Bible study as well. 

Studying Greek Scientifically

If you're not studying Greek scientifically, you're going against the basic logic of the language. Greek has mathematical precision. Don't treat it like it doesn't. 

Retreat from Gettysburg

I just got home from campus and was super excited to see this book waiting for me on my front porch. 

It documents the final stages of the Gettysburg Campaign. I have never read much about this part of the invasion. It's time I rectified that. 

Traveling Widely in the Scriptures

It's my first day back at school since the semester began and there's quite a buzz on campus. One of the first questions I'll ask my class is, "Anyone travel this summer?" The general assumption is that people travel during the summer break. As you know, I love to travel. Travel expands your horizon like nothing else I know.The more widely traveled we are, the more we appreciate all the things closer to home. There is something mind-expanding and life-changing about travel. Augustine put it like this: "The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page." Every year I try to visit a place I've never been to before. And to do this, we don't actually have to travel very far.

Can we switch gears for a minute to the spiritual? Christian author Eugene Peterson writes:

I want to hold out for traveling widely in the Holy Scriptures. For Scripture is the revelation of a world that is vast, far larger than the sin-stunted, self-constricted world that we construct for ourselves.

This is not traveling far to a part of the world. It is traveling far in a book. This kind of "wide travel" is one of the key requirements of my students as future leaders and teachers in the church. Little wonder that the first Christians were "devoted to the apostles' teaching" (Acts 2:42). Can you imagine anything more exciting than to sit at the feet of the very people who knew Jesus best? They must have hung on every word. No, they didn't have the New Testament as we do today. They had the writers of the New Testament. 

My goal in teaching Greek this semester will be a very simple one. I want to invite my students to travel widely within the Scriptures. I want them to become devoted to the apostles' teaching as never before. Sometimes we evangelicals are accused of taking the Bible too seriously, of bibliolatry even. Let's be clear about what we worship. We worship God -- Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We worship that God alone. But the fact is, the Trinitarian God's primary mode of communicating with us is in this book. 

It is my prayer this semester that I, along with my students, will do this as never before. 

Sunday, August 20, 2023

The Underhand Pulldown

Tried a new biceps exercise this afternoon. It's called the underhand pulldown. 

This exercise shortens the biceps by putting it in a flexed shoulder position along with a flexed elbow. 

As your elbow is extended, the shoulder is flexed more, taking away the overstretch that can sometimes compromise the biceps muscle. This torched my biceps today and I think I will be using this exercise a lot in the future. I love the thought of growing in everything I attempt. Curiosity may be historically bad for cats, but it's a driving force behind human ingenuity and progress. 

Greek and Yoda Speak (Heb. 4:11)

I was up early this morning doing a deep dive into Heb. 4:12-14 when I ran across a very unusual Greek construction in the second half of verse 11. 

Literally, the second clause reads like this in the Greek: "Lest by the same anyone example fall of disobedience." Try saying that 10 times. 

What is meant, of course, is "Lest anyone fall by the same example of disobedience." The word order in Greek is meant to grab our attention, as if to say, "Listen up. This is something really important." Sometimes in English we find such unusual word order. Poets especially love to shuffle their words around in the craziest ways according to what sounds best to the ear or has greater elegance. Chaucer, in Book I of his Troilus, writes, "In him ne deyned sparen blood royal the fyr of love." In normal English, this means "The fire of love did not deign to spare royal blood in him." I could also point you to Yoda Speak, where modifiers like adjectives and adverbs as well as objects and complements come before rather than after the subject and verb in a sentence.

In one of my books I noted how Paul loves to use unusual word order (hyperbaton) in his writings, as Gal. 2:6 and 1 Thess. 2:13 prove. 

I love such attention-getters in the Greek. I marvel at the words, yes, but also at the word order. I am so grateful for the way it causes me to pause and think about what I'm reading. "Whoa, David, stop right here. Let's count to ten and rethink this, shall we?" 

Reading the book of Hebrews in Greek is perfect for a wandering mind like mine. Everything has a focus, a rhythm, a point. That's what's so amazing to me about God's word. 

Saturday, August 19, 2023

Those Pesky Textual Variants in our Bible (e.g., 1 Tim. 3:16)

In Greek class this semester we will be introducing everyone to the art and science of textual criticism. There are some 2,000 significant textual variants in the Greek New Testament, one of which we'll be studying in two weeks. Should 1 Tim. 3:16 read:

"Who was manifested in the flesh"

"Which was manifested in the flesh"

"God was manifested in the flesh."

The manuscript evidence is equally divided between these three readings. The first is read by the Alexandrian text type. The second is read by the Western text type. And the third is read by the Byzantine text type. 

In Greek, the differences between "who," "which," and "God" aren't as great as they appear in English. Note two things:

1. For the letter sigma, a c-like shape was used in handwritten Greek. Today this letter is known as the lunar or lunate sigma because of its crescent-shaped form.

2. Sacred names (nomina sacra) were often abbreviated in manuscripts to conserve space or as tokens of respect. A light stroke was placed above the letters to signify the abbreviation. 

Care to venture a guess as to which of these readings is original? If you do, you'll probably want to learn a thing or two about textual criticism. The subject can be just plain icky at times. You have to learn about things like lunar sigmas and nomina sacra. But remember: The careful study of the Bible has a goal, which is not the careful study of the Bible. The goal is to discover what God is saying to us and to allow him to change our lives through his word. Show me a Bible student who says "This stuff is hogwash" and I'll show you someone with no concept of biblical exegesis. 

To become a good student of Scripture, we have to be trainable in such areas as textual criticism. That's why I wrote my little 79-page introduction to the subject. Even a kid from Kailua Beach in Hawaii could understand it. 

If I can do it, you can too. 

If You Need To, Dial It Back

How important is sleep for fitness and muscle growth? Nothing is more important. In fact, lack of adequate sleep and rest is probably why you're not progressing faster than you are. 

Sleep and fitness go hand in hand. But how much sleep do you need? I need at least 8 hours per night. But yesterday I was feeling tired, more so than usual. So yesterday I took a 2 hour nap (and woke up feeling completely refreshed) and then slept for 9 hours last night. Whether we realize it or not, there is a strong correlation between sleep and muscle growth. So when it comes to maximizing muscle recovery and repair, find out how much sleep YOU need as an individual. The goal is to rest enough each night so that you're waking up every day feeling fully refreshed and are able to execute your workouts and other daily tasks with full concentration and motivation. I did that last night, and as a result I was able to get in a solid weight training session in today ...

... after which I ran for 5 miles without any discomfort or feeling of tiredness. 

Listening to your body is all about guaranteeing your fitness and health in the long term. If you need to, dial it back, as I did yesterday. 

Friday, August 18, 2023

On Self-Talk

Do you ever talk to yourself? I do all the time, especially when I'm running or lifting. Self doubt can destroy everything we do. Have a strategy in mind when this happens. Talk to yourself. I know this sounds goofy, but it works. Oddly enough, when I talk to myself I never use the first person "I" but always the second person "you." Examples:

  • You got this. 
  • You can go another mile.
  • You are strong enough.
  • You are only an hour away from a big juicy steak.

Sometimes getting behind yourself is the best thing you can do. 

Time to Get Dirty?

Paul instructed the Thessalonians to work with their hands. How strange this must have sounded to residents of a Greek city. The Greeks despised manual labor as degrading and unsuitable for free men. But Christianity collides directly with this view. 

Paul was a tentmaker, Jesus a builder. Both gave dignity to all honest human labor. Even something as simple as gardening can be beneficial to your health by combining physical activity with exposure to nature and sunlight. I even find that pulling weeds can be therapeutic and relaxing after a long day of writing. 

Simply put, getting dirty is good for us. 

Why I Teach Greek (2 Pet. 1:12-21)

Good morning all. Man has the Lord been good to me. On Monday I begin another year of teaching Greek. It will be totally by the grace of God. God has been gracious to me beyond measure. I mean, where I came from, my background -- it isn't anything to reckon with. When Paul says, "Not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth" (1 Cor. 1:26), that's exactly me. So I am truly grateful to God I can be teaching Greek for my 47th year. 

This is the passage I covered in my morning Bible time today. 

Don't you just love it when Scripture itself describes Scripture? That's exactly what 2 Pet. 1:12-21 is doing. Peter begins by referring to the apostles -- to himself and his fellow apostles who were "eyewitnesses of the glory of Christ" (vv. 12-18). Then he goes on to refer to the prophets (vv. 19-21). We could summarize Peter's teaching as follows:

In verses 12-18 we have the witness of the apostles (the New Testament).

In verses 19-21 we have the witness of the prophets (the Old Testament). 

When you add together the witness of the New Testament and the witness of the Old Testament, what you have is the Bible. It's about the Bible that Peter is thinking here in 2 Pet. 1:12-21. 

Vividly aware of his own mortality, Peter wanted his teaching available to his friends after his death. And he did this not only in 1-2 Peter but in the Gospel we know as "Mark." Thus, he is confident that after his death his friends will be able to remember his teaching because they have it in writing. This teaching Peter handed down to Mark, who recorded it in his Gospel, so that the teaching of the apostle Peter is preserved and available for all God's people in all places for all time.

Note: Scripture is God's word written. Biblical truth is written truth. The word "Scripture" in fact means what is written. How I praise God that today we have written testimony from the apostles available to us in the New Testament, which was inscripturated for us in Greek. Hence Peter writes, "You will do well to pay close attention to it" (2 Pet. 1:19). 

The verb he uses here can also be rendered:

  • turn to
  • give full attention to
  • devote yourself to
  • set a course and keep to it
  • cleave to

And that is exactly why I teach Greek. I am stunned by the beauty of the Bible. The Bible -- all of it -- is true. I've discovered that you can press extremely hard on the word and it will hold. Are we doing that? I'm not going to pull any punches. The Bible is not optional. It's not just a good idea. It is HOLY. And God wrote it in Hebrew and Greek. "But I haven't studied Hebrew and Greek." Doesn't matter. Go to Bible Hub, type in the passage you want to study, then click on "Hebrew" or "Greek." Who can argue with that? God is inviting us to this spiritual discipline seven days a week. As The Message translates 2 Pet. 1:19, "You'll do well to keep focusing on [Scripture]. It's the one light you have in a dark place."

Pastor friend, please don't fake it. Believe me, we can tell whether you've been touched by the coals of the text yourself. If more pastors "paid close attention" to the text, maybe they wouldn't have to baby-talk and cajole people into their buildings through witty one-liners and superficial "sermons." People would be running to their churches. Learn the languages if you can. If you can't, avail yourself of the many helps that are out there. You could even take a Greek class. Jesus said that the kingdom was like a treasure hidden in the field. When you truly find it, you will happily sell everything you have to possess that field -- a perfect description of the joy and effort that goes into learning a biblical language. 

There is no path of least resistance. My Greek students will discover this soon enough. No treasure in life can be gained without great sacrifice. But ironically, only those things we have to work hard at in life are truly worth it. 

Let's do the right thing. 

Thursday, August 17, 2023

Again: Science and the Bible (Psalm 19)

Here's a fascinating book I picked up in Kailua a couple of weeks ago. 

I love the science of geology. In fact, I love science in general. Not as much as the Bible, but close. Neither can be safely ignored. I was reminded of this fact while reading Psalm 19 this morning. Some have called this the greatest Psalm in the Psalter. I can't get enough of it. Here's how I would summarize its content. 

I marvel at the balance we find in the Bible, don't you? There is never a wedge driven between science and the Bible. God has revealed himself in the universe and in the Bible, through creation and revelation. I think many of our spiritual difficulties begin when we fail to keep these two divine self-revelations together. On the one hand, some people have great confidence in the data that God supplies in nature but seem to have no confidence at all in the second lot of data he supplies in Scripture. Equally, some Bible students are passionate about God's word but feel threatened by that other revelation of himself in nature. But we must never pit nature and Scripture against each other as antagonists. Nor should we pit science and theology against each other. There is only one God, and this God has written two books if you will. One is called the Bible, and one is called nature. I therefore find it highly ironic that there are professors of New Testament who themselves claim not to follow the Lord Jesus Christ or to believe in the Bible as God's inerrant and authoritative word on the one hand, and other New Testament scholars who will anathematize you if you attempt to integrate insights from the "secular" science of linguistics into the study of New Testament Greek. The natural and the supernatural, science and theology, belong harmoniously one with the other, and we need more patience to understand them and to seek their harmonization. We need to see them as complementary to each other, not as enemies. Linguists, for example, have taught us that the basic unit of meaning in language is not the word but the morpheme. 

This fact can be of inestimable value when studying things like the Greek verb system. 

I find that when students understand how the Greek language works, what they learn sticks with them a lot longer than if they had just memorized long lists of vocabulary and paradigms. This is why even though I am not a trained linguist I have attempted to incorporate linguistic insights into the way I teach Greek. 

I refuse to drive a wedge between the art and science of linguistics and the art and science of biblical exegesis. Why should anyone do that? 

As for the geology of Hawaii, I have never been content to merely enjoy the great natural beauty of the islands. I want to know the how and why of each island's formation, and books like the one I referred to above are very helpful to that end. In fact, I would go so far as to say that the Bible, as plainly read and understood, provides an accurate history of the earth. I am amazed at the logical consistency between the empirical evidence and the plain reading of the Bible as history. That's why in college I wrote my term paper in my geology class at Biola on "The History of the Hawaiian Archipelago from a Recent Creationism and Flood Cosmology." That study had a profound impact on my perception of science and, in particular, the alleged incompatibility between science and the Bible when it comes to geological formations. 

Science is not inerrant like the Bible is. The work of modern scientists is purely human work. But this does not mean that scientific investigation is not legitimate. Only the Bible is infallible because it is the word of God. But God is still the author of the book of nature, and we would be foolish to ignore it.