Friday, April 19, 2024

Chorizo: Me Gusta!

Here's my new go-to meal at the local Mexican restaurant. It's called pollo chorizo or chori pollo. 

It's chicken topped with spicy and delicious sausage. Have I died and gone to heaven? By the way, chorizo is NOT considered a health food. High calories, high fat, high sodium. Low carbs though. There's even a vegan version of chorizo. It's called soyrizo :-) 

Me gusta!

Seven Hopes for My Greek Students

It's been over two years now that I began serious strength training at the Y. I've learned so many lessons through these months and years, not least from my own mistakes and failures. 

As I lifted today, I thought about my Greek students, past, present, and future. Some of them have even gone on to get their doctorates in New Testament. What hopes do I have for them? Here are seven that come to mind:

1. I hope you will wear your considerable learning lightly once you leave the halls of academia because that will make you accessible to everyday people.

2. I hope you will experience abject failure on at least one Greek quiz or exam because that will teach you humility and compassion for your fellow strugglers.

3. I hope you will wrestle with difficult passages for yourself and not just consult the commentaries because that will teach you the value of forming your own personal convictions.

4. I hope you will experience rejection when you submit that article or book for publication because that will shatter your self-confidence and drive you to your knees.

5. I hope you will be forced to deal with an unreasonable and harsh professor in your seminary career because that will help you discover the importance of discernment when scheduling classes.

6. I hope you will be overwhelmed by the magnificence of the Greek text from time to time because that will remind you that its author is equally magnificent.

7. I hope you will realize that once you have attained a reading knowledge of your Greek New Testament you will now have a chance to live it.

Have a wonderful day! 

Thursday, April 18, 2024

Happy National Exercise Day!

On this "National Exercise Day" -- it's also "National Get to Know Your Customers Day," "National Animal Crackers Day," and "National Garlic Day" -- I am so grateful to the Lord that I was able to get in a run at the High Bridge Trail in Farmville today. Care to join me? 

I am now in my 70s. I'm still squeezing myself into wetsuits and signing up for marathons. 

Sometimes I'm the only one in my age group -- which fits perfectly into my winning strategy. I'm not fast enough to get on the podium, but my plan is to keep competing until everyone else quits. 

Running has taught me it's never too late to pursue your dreams. 

You don't have to be the fastest or the best athlete. But you can possess the best attitude -- gratitude for the good health that allows you to finish a race and then to sign up for the next one. 

I may be too old for some things in life, but I can still squeeze every drop of happiness out of life and stay active as long as I can. 

Happy National Exercise Day!

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Good Evening!

Lovely evening here in SoVa. 

Hope your evening is going well! 

Little Round Top to Reopen!

I just recently began rereading my favorite novel of the Civil War, Gettysburg

I simply can't put it down. As you know, I visit Gettysburg each year, and this year will be no exception. I'm especially curious to see what changes the National Park Service has made to Little Round Top. 

The site is scheduled to reopen to the public this summer.

I hope to either bike or run the battlefield again this year, though probably not on July 1-3, when the park is overrun with tourists. 

We study history because history helps us to understand how past events made things the way they are today. That's as true as when I visited Masada in Israel as when I visited the Great Wall in China or Persepolis in Iran. Hopefully, we can develop the ability to avoid the mistakes of the past. A civilization that disregards history is like a person who has no long term memory. It's when we remember why we disliked touching a hot stove as a child that we don't do that today. My favorite prof at the University of Hawaii was my history prof. He asked questions like, "Why did the people of a certain era think and act the way they did? What influences motivated them to do so?" Most of the history classes I took in high school or college got hung up on names and dates. Those are not unimportant, but what's more important is understanding causes and effects,. It's the difference between knowing that the Roman Empire collapsed and why it collapsed. I am glad to hear that Little Round Top is reopening. You can't understand the present without understanding the past. Just try and understand the modern-day borders of France and Germany without Charlemagne! 

Let's Retire "Retirement"

Just thinking out loud here. But I'm wondering if it isn't time to retire a few "Christian" terms.

  • "Pastor." That's a metaphor, not a title, in Eph. 4:11. You're an elder
  • "Reverend." Nope. That's reserved for the Lord (Psalm 111:9). 
  • "Master of Divinity." I have one and I have certainly NOT mastered divinity.
  • "Sanctuary." Your church building is just that. A building. God does not live there (John 4).
  • "Lay person." We are all ministers/clergy.
  • "Lay elder." An elder is an elder, whether he is paid or not.

Here's one more: "Retirement." Why in the world should Christians want to use this term? 

In his book Stepping Up, Dennis Rainey writes how he once met with 12 gray-headed executives, now retired, who had been highly successful leaders. They had been risk takers who had led big lives. For 45 minutes the men peppered him with questions. Why do I feel so unnecessary? Why are my adult children so distant from me? Why does our culture make me feel so emasculated? Why am I treated as though I have nothing more to give?

As Rainey looked into their pained expressions, he thought they resembled broken antiques, collecting dust in an attic. They seemed to be without purpose. Each longed to fill his nostrils again with the smoke of the battlefield. They didn't want to trade their swords in for a five iron and a golf cart. They felt that they were created for something far greater than falling asleep in their lounge chairs while watching Fox News. Rainey described them as "men robbed of their glory, no longer dreaming because of a complicity of forces that had cruelly swindled them out of their courage. These men had been left behind." 

Retirement. What a stupid word. What a stupid way to live life. Thank goodness, it doesn't have to be this way. But you have to work at it. Retire? Just don't go there. Don't ever go there. Press on. Regardless. If you're not careful, people will become a bother to you. If you're not vigilant, you will stop living. You will stop reading. You will stop doing. Life will become wearisome. You will feel left behind.

Let me encourage you to rid your vocabulary of the word "retirement" once and for all. Go against the tide. Resist the temptation to live a life robbed of its glory. Stay close to your family, even though they may be geographically distant. Enter their lives and allow them to enter yours. Your job as parent and grandparent never ends. Cultivate friendships. Stop letting difficult people drain you. Don't feel you have to answer every email you get. If you want to start exercising for fun, fitness, weight loss, or any other reason, do it. Almost everyone would prefer to be physically fit than not. No one wakes up in the morning thinking, "I'm so glad to be overweight. I love getting out of breath when I climb stairs." What's keeping you from achieving this goal of health and fitness? I'm pretty sure there's an activity out there that's both fun and will get you in good shape. When we're firing on all cylinders we have the greatest level of life quality and happiness. 

Today's workout. 

Awaken the champion that is within you. The most important thing is to train smart, be safe, and have fun. Remember that you can make adjustments down the road if need be. 

The main thing is not to quit on yourself. Even if you're no longer a knight on a white horse, that's no excuse for going through life as though it were one long funeral. Never forget that "It is the old trees who have all the beauty and grandeur" (Emerson). 

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

A Day at the Beach

Studies have shown that spending time at the beach can be uniquely rejuvenating. I agree!

Today I drove my son to Virginia Beach to pick up his new van. While there, I did what every guy who was raised in the islands would do -- donned my wetsuit and hit the beach.

The day was lovely. 

The waves weren't exactly huge. (It was more of a boogie board day.) 

But that didn't stop me. Afterwards I sat on the beach soaking up the sun. 

I hope you can get to the beach this year. Or maybe the lake. You'll walk back to the car feeling completely refreshed! 

Have a wonderful evening! 

Moving Beyond Facts

When people are having trouble affirming the inspiration of Scripture, we often point them to 2 Tim. 3:16. However, most of that verse (and the following one) speaks about the usefulness of Scripture. It is to be used for "teaching, rebuke, correction, and training in righteousness." For example, if your elders understand 1 Cor. 11:3-15 to prohibit women from going to church without a head covering, this interpretation affects what they will teach the congregation. Or if your elders interpret certain passages in the New Testament as permitting remarriage after divorce, then that interpretation will influence how they counsel divorcees. But not only elders and pastors are responsible to understand the truth of Scripture. In our own spiritual lives, how we understand the Bible will definitely affect us and others. 

Just a friendly reminder that we always need to move beyond facts to application! 

Antidotes to Bitterness

Just an additional thought to my post yesterday about aging.

Bitterness and discouragement are always of the devil. Their antidote comes not only through Christ but through perennial habits. Don't forget these three:

1. The Bible. Soak yourself in the Scriptures daily. Pursuing spiritual equanimity without the Bible is like wanting to gain weight without eating.

2. Prayer. There is nothing that opens our lives up to the Spirit of God like prayer. 

3. Relationships. Success in aging is found in faithful relationships. Develop a trustworthy spiritual network if you can. (I realize this may be difficult for some.)

Markers like these keep us alert to God's unexpected blessings in our later years. They are the protection we need as we face declining health and eventual death. 

Enjoy this beautiful day! 

Monday, April 15, 2024

Different Approaches to Exercise

I know there are different approaches to exercise, but I try to keep things simple.

You should be able to exercise four times a week for 30 minutes. Your pace should be comfortable. As for the activity, choose the one you enjoy the most that involves your legs -- walking, jogging, biking, swimming, racquetball, etc. Try this for 4 months. After that, your ability to exercise should improve. 

I'd like to elaborate more but I think you get the drift! 

Lemma Wins Boston!

Sisay Lemma of Ethiopia won today's Boston Marathon. Note the gray hair. 

Let's hear it for dem old guys! 

Bitter Or Better?

There's a word we've borrowed from German that refers to the pleasure we take in the bad fortune of others. That word is Schadenfreude. It's what lies behind reality TV, the Law & Crime Network, and the show COPS. The opposite is envy -- a specific kind of jealousy that leads you to become depressed at the good fortune of others. "Youth," it is said, "has its passion. Age has its bitterness." I don't know any sin more characteristic of aging than envy. You'll fight it constantly. The fact is: Your lack of success is in no way caused by the success of someone else. Their success takes nothing away from you. 

I want to practice contentment till the day I die. I want to practice that at my school, in my home, at church, and elsewhere. Bitter or better. The choice is indeed ours. 

The Passive Voice

Can't wait to introduce the passive voice in Greek class today! There would be no Beatitudes without the passive:

"They will be comforted."

"They will be satisfied."

"They will be shown mercy."

"They will be called sons of God."

Incidentally, I love how Williams renders Matt. 5:6:

"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for being and doing right, for they will be completely satisfied."

His footnote on "completely" reads:

"Gorged, as a calf on clover."

This is precisely why I teach Greek! I want my students to so study their Greek New Testaments that they leave each session in the word feeling gorged, stuffed, glutted, satiated, filled to capacity! I want them to read the text greedily, craving the pure spiritual milk of the word (1 Pet. 2:2). As Richard Foster puts in his excellent book Celebration of Discipline, "The desperate need today is not for a greater number of intelligent people or gifted people, but of deep people." 

Oh, I also love how Williams writes "hungry and thirsty for being and doing right." As we begin to exegete 1 John, my students will see that the heretics were engaged in the perverse teaching that you could "be" righteous without bothering to "practice" righteousness. John roundly condemns this error. The only person who is righteous is the one who does righteousness, like Jesus (1 John 3:7). "Doing is the best test of Being" (Robert Law). 

Have a superb week! 

Sunday, April 14, 2024

I LOVE Spring!

Spent 5 hours out in the sun today. Maybe it shows. 

I worked in the yard and mowed. 

I have a guest arriving tomorrow and I wanted the farm to look fresh. 

Meanwhile, my son began bush hogging the hay fields. 

Hard to believe that in only a few weeks their haying season will begin in earnest. 

I love spring. The warm days make me feel more energetic and cheerful. I love the blooming of the flowers and trees. I wake up every morning to the singing of birds. Outdoor activities pick up after the winter. I actually like to feel sweaty and sticky. I like wearing the minimum of clothing (like I did back in Hawaii). I like being able to sleep with the windows open. Everything seems more colorful. Today was 78 and sunny. I LOVE the warmer weather and temps. I think I'm an even-tempered person with a very positive attitude toward life. But I have preferences as well as like and dislikes. I love the longer days and shorter nights of spring and simmer. I absolutely ADORE surfing at Virginia Beach. I can't get enough of wearing shorts and flip flops. 

Summer is good. 

But spring is great. 

Spring is my favorite, definitely!

The Difference a Mentor Can Make

It was back in 1971 that I moved to Southern California at the age of 19 to enroll as a biblical studies major at Biola College. I didn't know it at the time, but the Lord was calling me into the ministry of full-time teaching. My arrival in California happened to coincide with the rise to fame of the head basketball coach at UCLA. His was soon a household name as people watched with amazement as he won championship after championship. It was called the Wooden Touch. He was a great coach but an even greater human being. He won 88 straight games between 1971 and 1974 yet his success never went to his head. Quiet as a March snow, he taught his players as much about the game of life as the game of basketball. Of all the axioms he was famous for -- "discipline yourself so that others don't have to," "never lie," "earn the right to be confident," "treat your opponents with respect" -- perhaps my favorite was, "Never score without acknowledging a teammate."

When I got to Biola, my goal was to play basketball under head coach Lyons. I hoped he would mentor me even as I hit the books hard. I soon realized, however, that I couldn't excel at both sports and academics. I had to make a choice. In high school I had never applied myself to my studies. My life consisted of surfing, volleyball, and basketball. But college was different. To succeed, I'd have to change. I'd have to learn how to become a student. I knew it would be like turning the Queen Mary around with a teaspoon, but I was determined to make it work. Dr. Harry Sturz, Biola's Greek prof, became my teacher, my mentor, and eventually my colleague at Biola. Like John Wooden, Harry Sturz was eminently gifted but remarkably unassuming. He never knew how great he was. He never had a bad word to say about Westcott and Hort or Bruce Metzger. But in his unassuming greatness he made an indelible impact on my life. 

I'd like you to know that. I'd like you to know that his influence was THE turning point in my life. If he were here today I would write him and tell him so. 

Regardless of how much you learn or however greatly the Lord blesses your life and ministry, I hope you will never forget the words of Coach Wooden:

"Never score without acknowledging a teammate." 

Saturday, April 13, 2024

In Praise of the Passive Hang

"When you do nothing, something always happens." So true! 

Just don't change the oil in your car or mow your lawn. Just don't tend to your marriage and see where that gets you. Just don't use the languages you once worked so hard to acquire. 

In lifting, you're usually doing something. But with the passive hang, you're actually not. There's nothing you have to do except let gravity do its work. The passive hang can transform your body. It improves strength, mobility, and posture. 

The result will be a gorilla grip, straighter arms, and stronger shoulders. This is an ideal exercise for people who are strong but inflexible. I can hang for about a minute now and the difference it's made in my ability to reach overhead has been amazing. Your spine will love it as well. The passive hang really helps to relieve any back issues I have and helps my stiffness to improve. 

Just don't forget to breathe! 

Never Just an "Ordinary" Run

One of the greatest moments in the annals of sports occurred when Joan Benoit of Maine won the race in the first-ever women's marathon in Olympic history in 1984. 

It was the union of body and mind at its height. In the sport of running, no one else need understand your struggle. That doesn't matter. Everyone who runs can achieve greatness simply by doing the best they can. 

My run today was nothing spectacular. It was just another ordinary run by a non-descript 71-year old widower. 

I never have and I never will win a race. And yet I know exactly the feeling that Joan Benoit had when she crossed the finish line in Los Angeles. For me, running has lessened the distance between what I am and what I can be. Winning has nothing to do with it. Trying is everything. My story will not be your story. Running is simply about the business of being the best version of "me." 

In the game that is life, this means everything. 

Friday, April 12, 2024

My Day

Lovely day with family. 

Life is good! 

Take care my friends! 

Thursday, April 11, 2024

Hawaii I Love you

In December of 2003, a month after Becky went home to heaven, I decided to visit the place of my birth and youth. I was obviously at a major crossroad in life. I had spent the first 19 years of my earthly existence on the island of Oahu. I felt like I needed to tap the brakes and slow my pace a little. So I returned to Hawaii. I've been doing that annually ever since. I spent time driving roads I had driven hundreds of times in my teenage years. I drove to the campuses where I had gone to school. I drove to the church where I had come to know Christ when I was 8. I visited the place where Becky and I had spent our honeymoon in Kailua and the beaches we swam in together. I loved it. I felt like I was 24 again as I lingered in places where my bride and I had spent the first weeks of our married life together. Memories engulfed me. It was a trip down nostalgia street. I'll never forget those days with Becky. 

As I walked along Kailua Beach, I thought about how long we'd shared our lives together and all we had been through. The heartbreaks. The disloyalty of those we thought we were exceptionally close to. The ugly criticism of those who didn't even know us. The heartbreak of cancer. All that begins to take a toll on you. Then I thought about all we had been able to accomplish together. When you mix the good and the bad together you come up with a thing called "marriage." For 37 years, Bec and I had a love relationship. It was remarkable. Our marriage wasn't based on how many acres we farmed or how many trips we had made to Ethiopia together. It was based solely on how deep was our love for each other. I knew B so well that I could finish her sentences, and vice versa. 

Today I finalized this year's trip back to my home state. My visits to Hawaii have not ameliorated the trauma of losing Becky. Only God can do that. Still, on every visit to Kailua, I find myself enriched by rehearsing our marriage journey and reflecting on all the good that came out of that experience. All losses are difficult. Each inflicts a unique kind of pain. What makes each loss so unbearable is its irreversible nature. Losing Becky 10 years ago was and will remain a difficult chapter in my life. But the whole of my life has been enriched by it. As it turned out, God had indeed meant it for good. I have found a new life that is truly amazing and filled with lovely memories. 

Training Yourself

Had a wonderful workout this morning. 

I do what works for me at the gym. I love the journey of training. I'm doing it right (mostly) and enjoy it. Feeling the pump. Seeing the fibers firing. Switching things up from quick reps to time under tension. It's the best time of my life when I'm training myself spiritually (in the word) and physically (at the gym). When I walk through either door, the outside world doesn't exist. Bible study and strength training are my portals to peace and serenity. 

You can stumble through an average life. But you've got to plan to have a great one.

Have a wonderful day everyone! 

Leaders Who Care

Before you can serve a cake you have to bake it. Exegesis always precedes exposition. Exegesis is personal and private. It takes place in the workshop. Exposition is shared and public. Not every detail of exegesis is shared when we teach, of course. In the end, we want people to see not the fine details but the whole patterns and how the parts are related. Sometimes (not always) a detail sticks out. That happened to me this morning as I was reading Romans 12. I noticed how "leadership" comes smack dab in the middle of caring ministries. 

Likewise, in 1 Tim. 3:5, "leading" and "caring" are combined:

If anyone does not know how to lead his own family, how can he take care of God's church?

Bo Reicke, my Doktorvater in Basel, wrote in TDNT that the verb proistēmi originally meant to "put oneself at the head" or "go first in line." Then it came to mean (1) "preside" in the sense of ruling or leading and (2) "protect" in the sense of caring for. Pastoral ministry combines both of these meanings. It is essentially parental ministry (see 1 Thess. 2-3). The emphasis is not so much on rank and authority but on their care for the spiritual well-being of others. 

In theory? Doable. In practice? Difficult to say the least. I am thankful for the pastor-teachers I have known who have truly cared for their flocks. Even as a teacher, this is my high calling: to train students to do exegesis even as I serve and care for them in love. If my students aren't deeply touched by my Christ, then I must be doing a miserable job of representing him. 

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

The Source of Our Power (Eph. 6:10)

It's about time I committed this verse to memory:

I love how the Living Bible puts it:

"Last of all I want to remind you that your daily strength must come from the Lord's mighty power within you."


Beyond the Impasse in NT Textual Criticism

The 21st century interlude in New Testament textual criticism continues. There are four pathways forward:

1. Byzantine priority (Byzantine exclusivism).

2. Thoroughgoing eclecticism.

3. Reasoned eclecticism (Alexandrian priority).

4. Reasoned eclecticism that uses manuscripts from all textual traditions. 

I like the latter! 

Greek for Dummies

Alternative title for my beginning grammar Learn to Read New Testament Greek: "Greek for Dummies." A good example is how we explain everything. No "This is how it works in Latin, so this is how it works in Greek." After all, I wrote the book for people like me -- language dummies. 

Try it! (You can find the book through a quick Google search.) 

Stay the Course!

Consistency is necessary for progress in almost anything!

If you're having trouble staying consistent, then it might help to practice "adaptive excellence." Aim high, but always appropriately. Listen to your body. Often, less is more. You don't have to run all the time. Run-walk builds fitness too.

Consistency is not so much a physical challenge as a mental one. The brain rules all. It's not your calves that will get your body moving. It's your thoughts.

Stay the course, my friend. Run long and run healthy! 

My run today :-) 

Tuesday, April 9, 2024

Preacher Curls

I pinched myself (gently but repeatedly) for not doing this earlier.

Preacher curls can be good, but please start lightly. Begin with a weight you KNOW you can easily do. 

1. It's a key exercise to strengthen your arms.

2. Preacher curls do a great job of hitting the lower portion of the biceps muscle.

3. Remember to use less weight than you would with a regular biceps curl. 

4. If you don't ego lift, you will probably never have to worry about an injury.

5. Make sure the whole back of the arm is supported by the pad, and train throughout the full range of motion. 

Again, you don't HAVE to use preacher curls to train your arms. Plenty of lifters go through their entire lives without these exercises. Feel free to consult your doctor or your trainer before doing these, or skip them entirely. 

Have a magnificent day!  

The People ("Laos") of God

Yesterday in Greek class we introduced the noun laos, from which we get the English word laity. It's an unfortunate term!

The church is primarily and fundamentally a body designed to express the life of the indwelling Christ through every individual member. It is obvious that there can be no hope of ever getting the church to operate at it was intended to do until each individual member recognizes and begins to exercise the spiritual gift or gifts they have received. To become aware that God has equipped you -- yes, you! -- with a uniquely designed gift and has placed you exactly where he wants you to minister this gift is to enter a whole new dimension of living. Spiritual gifts are not only for the so-called "clergy." They are for every member. Hence no member of Christ's body has the right to look down on or despise the ministry of another. 

Remember, the ministry of the body is the ministry of Jesus Christ himself! 

Monday, April 8, 2024

Slow Running

My content suffers a bit on Mondays because my schedule is so full. 

When we begin running, it's important to remember that to get fitter, healthier, and maybe even faster, you have to do a lot of slow running, The standard is to run as slowly as you can. Heart rates don't lie. Beginners often run too hard. I know I did. To prevent yourself from going out too fast, imagine having a big sign on your back that says "SLOW DOWN." If you do, you'll stop huffing and puffing and actually enjoy your run.

Pretty simple and common concept, but perhaps an important one.

You'd Love Latin (I Think)!

You love Bible study? Then why not learn Latin? You'll be able to read the Vulgate and the Latin church fathers. Here's one of the best primers out there. 

P.S. Be sure to learn the ecclesiastical (not classical) pronunciation!

Love Me Some Philippians

Getting ready to teach Philippians. Can you tell I kinda like this book?

Sunday, April 7, 2024

First Mowing of the Year!

Vom Lesebuch zum Lebensbuch

If you're like me, you enjoy listening to sermons in other languages. This morning I watched this one:

Loved this statement: "Wem wollt ihr glauben? Wem wollt ihr gehorchen und damit gehören? Menschlichen Versprechungen oder dem lebendigen Gott?" Don't worry. Google can translate this for you. But here's the best quote from the sermon:

"Es ist wichtig, dass diese Bibel vom Lesebuch zum Lebensbuch wird." 

Google can give you the gist of this, but it can't even come close to translating the magnificent word play between "Lesebuch" and "Lebensbuch"! Shout out to all my friends in Basel for helping me fall in love with this marvelous language called German!

Have a wonderful Lord's Day. 

Saturday, April 6, 2024

"I Regret Exercising"

"I'm really regretting exercising," said nobody ever. 

Be Careful

Be careful about skipping your daily Bible time. Before you know it, you haven't read your Bible in weeks. 

Ultras Are Like Life

Ultramarathons have a way of beating you up. It's 32 miles of pure suffering. All the outside layers are peeled off like an onion and you are left with your doubts and fears and a finish line that seems like a millenium away. But step after step, mile after mile, hour after hour, you finally reach the finish line and all your doubts and fears vanish. I've entered three ultras and by the sheer grace of God finished all three.

 The keys are:

1. Monitor your pace so that you have enough energy to get you to the finish line.

2. Try to ignore your brain when it tells you -- begs you! -- to stop. 

A lot like life isn't it? 

A Gorgeous Day

As you can see, it's a beautiful day here in southern Virginia! I plan to spend the entire day working outdoors and taking advantage of the perfect weather. Here are the sheep welcoming me home. 

Earlier I got in a workout. 

And before that I jotted down in my journal a couple of ideas about Bible translation. Yes, I've been toying with the idea of producing my own "New Testament in the Language of the People." In Gal. 1:6 I'd use "flabbergasted" instead of "amazed," "shocked," "astonished," or "surprised." In Mark 1:36 I'd go with "hunted him down" instead of "looked for him," "searched for him," or "found him." 

As for Heb. 12:1, why not use "tenacity" instead of "perseverance," "endurance," "patience," or "determination"? Tenacity is the ability to be persistent and determined in achieving your goals, even in the face of obstacles. It carries the idea of "relentless" and "resilient." I love that! 

But don't worry -- this is probably just a pipe dream.

Have a beautiful day my friends! 

Friday, April 5, 2024

We Love Goats!

Young goats aren't all that used to having horns and will try to fit their heads through any tight spot. Never fear, though. Papa B to the rescue! 

The Alps This Summer: Decision Made

I've had a very short career in mountaineering, especially at high altitude. By definition, "high altitude" is 1,500 to 3,500 meters. "Very high altitude" is 3,500 to 5,500 meters. And "extreme altitude" is 5,500 meters and higher. My goal in climbing the Alps has always been to climb 4,000 meter peaks, just like anyone who climbs the Rockies in Colorado seeks to conquer mountains that stand over 14,000 feet. I respect high mountains. Indeed, I fear them. Although I've only failed to summit one high altitude peak that I've attempted to climb, I still can't begin any climb with any confidence that I will succeed. The uncertainties are just too many. Getting back down happy and healthy counts more than racking up another summit. 

With mountaineering, you can start at any time and any age. You don't need to go full-on Rambo, either. The 14-ers I've climbed in the Rockies are known as "easy" mountains. Average people do them all the time. That's not to say they aren't challenging. Climbing is a risky business. But the rewards are out of this world. I love the bonds that are formed in the mountains. I like working my tail off to prepare for something that's challenging and then giving it my all. It feels so good to push yourself out of your comfort zone. It's truly amazing to climb over 4,000 meters in the Alps. There is something exhilarating about gearing up for an alpine ascent. You get to experience beauty where most people don't get to experience it ever. 

They say mountaineering is all about calculated risk and knowing when to climb and when not to. We grow by being stretched, by willingly applying ourselves to a dangerous and arduous task. The act of wrestling with your fears builds inner strength. I think mountaineering, along with marathoning, is one of the most transferable gains to other areas of your life you can develop. In the Bible, people climbed mountains to get close to God. Mountains are an experience like no other.

But they are dangerous. The Alps call me like a moth to a flame. But therein lies the problem. When the risks far outnumber the rewards, then you know it's time to adopt a longer-term perspective. It's for that reason I've decided not to return to the Alps this summer to attempt a summit of the Allalinhorn. I think I'm wise enough to know that attempting another 4,000 meter peak would not only put my life at risk but also that of my mountain guide, to whom I would be roped for two days. For many mountaineers, the single biggest reason for climbing at high altitude is the desire to prove yourself. The greater the danger, the greater the glory. I'm certainly not immune to that. It's important therefore to be aware of your true motivations. Just watch the movie Everest. There's something really pathetic and sad about people endangering their lives because they wouldn't be honest with themselves and didn't understand their own limitations. 

Of course I won't stop admiring those who tackle those amazing 4,000-meter peaks in the Alps, especially those in my age group and beyond who continue to roll back the barriers of aging and human performance. My experiences in the Alps will always have a special meaning to me. But there are a number of 14ers near Denver that will be nice too. I know too many people who succumb to faulty either/or thinking. The Allalinhorn might be beyond my skill level, but Mount Elbert in Colorado is, I think, still very doable, and even the Mettelhorn in Zermatt. The point is that movement is life. Embrace the changes in your athletic skill levels, but don't give up. And never -- NEVER -- let your age define you. As long as you're moving forward and covering distance, you're still an endurance athlete. 


So a funny thing I've noticed is how inaccurate our preaching can be sometimes. A lot of eisegesis arises from over-interpreting the Greek. Here's an example I heard this morning while driving into town for my coffee. The preacher was noting how Jesus described the world's leaders as bossy and authoritarian (Mark 10:42).

Then, in verse 43, Jesus adds, "But it is not this way among you." The speaker noted:

The particular Greek syntax places this out of order and drives it home with real emphasis, real emphasis. "Not so -- but" is the way the sentence begins.

In one sense, he's right of course. 

However, the Greek conjunction de is a "post-positive," meaning it can't stand first in its clause or sentence. That's it. No emphasis here. As always, the key is proper observation. Remember, in observation, your main concern is, "What do I see?" Pay special attention to terms and grammatical structure. But don't overdo it. 

Have a wonderful day everyone! 

Thursday, April 4, 2024

This Morning's "Reverse" Sunrise

He sends the flowers every springtime and a sunrise every morning! 

"The New Testament in the Language of the People"

Worshiping Jesus at Bo's this morning. 

My English Bible du jour was Williams' The New Testament in the Language of the People

I recommend it highly! 

Happy Anniversary!

Took the busy workers at "My 7 Sons Farm" out for lunch today. Momma and daddy farmer celebrate their anniversary tomorrow. 

Can't believe it's been 16 years. Wow, what a wonderful day that was on the farm. Congrats, you too. It's been fun watching your family grow. May God grant both of you the heart of David, the courage of Daniel, and the wisdom of Solomon. 

Wednesday, April 3, 2024

Charts Can Help!

A chart can be an incredibly useful tool in Bible study!

It's a good way to get a handle on the information you want to remember. If you can summarize the chart in a poetic way, so much the better. Here's my chart of the 4-Source Theory of Gospel origins:

As one wag put it:

"The problem solved is stated here:/ 

Our Mark did first of all appear./ 

For Luke and Matthew used him both,/ 

but Luke and Matthew, nothing loath,/ 

to add some more used Q for "Quelle,"/ 

and special sources "M" and "L." 

I like this chart because it's simple. If we were to enlarge it, we could add all kinds of details. But as it stands, we've got the basics. 

Keep in mind that a chart is only a means to an end. Your ultimate goal in studying God's word is studying God's word and not making charts! But if charts can help you, feel free use them.

Getting Your First Pull Up

As you know, I will never say anything is "easy." But there are some simple steps to help you get your first pull up. Focusing on the negative (the lowering part of the movement) at the start really goes a long ways towards getting your first pull up. Then you'll also want to do passive hangs. (Me: hanging from a bar at the gym. Passerby: "That's exercising?" Me: "Yep.') But the two best preparatory exercises for doing pull ups are:

1. Lat pull downs. 

2. Machine assisted pull ups. 

The assisted pull up machine is one of the best gadgets at the gym. Especially the one where you have to stand. The goal is to build up the strength in your arms and back to the point where you can lift your own weight. I am 235 pounds so that wasn't an easy task. But stick with it and you'll get there, even if it takes you a year and a half like it did me.

Have a wonderful day!  

Tuesday, April 2, 2024

Must-See Zermatt

As you know, I've lived in Basel and have visited many other places in Switzerland, including Geneva, Zürich, Bern, and Interlaken. But Zermatt is easily my favorite city in that country. This is one place you cannot miss if you ever travel to Switzerland. Zermatt offers day hikes that anyone can do and they've made it very easy for you to experience it. You will be sure to get some really awesome reflection pics. Here is my favorite mountain. So iconic and identifiable. 

And the views of the glacier from the Gornergrat are likewise unbelievable. Here is my mountain guide Walter. 

Even if I don't get back there again this summer I will feel forever blessed that I got to see such amazing sights! 

Just Try It!

Growing up it was drilled into my brain that "Anything worth doing is worth doing well," and I don't necessarily disagree! But sometimes that can backfire on us. I'm thinking of all those times I didn't work out because I didn't have time to study the move, perfect it, etc. But that's not the right mentality, is it? If it's worth doing, then just get out there and try it. With time, patience, and hard work, we can achieve just about anything! 

Connecting Citizens to the King

I love teaching Greek for many, many reasons, but here's one of the biggest reasons. Because the church is a monarchy rather than a hierarchy, it's essential that every member of the church be connected to the Monarch. The King speaks directly to his citizens, not through a ruling council. Hence the elders' primary function is not to administer the Headship of Christ but to get each member to engage in a personal relationship with the living Christ through daily Bible study and prayer. Greek is a tool that will empower and equip us to enjoy a personal and in-depth study of the word of God. This is one of the highest callings for believers! 

What Makes Ministers?

What makes ministers? (And remember -- we're ALL ministers.) Many things, of course, but at least these two:

1. Models of ministry.

2. Opportunities to experience ministry.

When I was a teenager, I learned from Pastor Jim Cook of International Baptist Church in Honolulu how to lead people to Christ, how to nurture them, and how to use my abilities for ministry. As for ministry opportunities, I was given the chance to lead music, work with the youth group, and even preach/teach. 

Above all, it's the Lord who makes ministers. He is more concerned than we are to thaw out our frozen assets for the kingdom! 

Rest for the Weary (Matt. 11:28-30)

Don't you love Jesus' invitation in Matt. 11:28-30 to those who are weary? I return to this passage often. The word for "weary" refers to weariness after a struggle. It's the result of toil and labor. And the "rest" Jesus promises us? This is not the kind of rest that requires you to take a day off. It doesn't require a sabbatical. It's not referring to laying out for a year so you can recover. This is the rest that goes on midstream, right through your normal day. My day today will be no less busy than my Monday was yesterday. I still worked out. 

I still ran. 

But through it all, I found rest for my soul. It's what I call "restful rushing." It's a mental, emotional, volitional rest. It's a deliberate entering into a world of peace. It means "casting all your cares upon him, for it matters to him about you." 

"Come to me, Dave," Jesus said to me this morning. "Come, just as you are. Let me share your load. Just come." Today, when I heard that voice, I fell on my face and said, "Lord, again I have tried to live life on my own. Please forgive me. You are right. I need to share my load with you. You've invited me to come. Right now, Lord, I am coming back to you." 

This is not a particularly brilliant thought, I know. But it's something to remember on those days when we wake up weary. 

Monday, April 1, 2024

On the Use of Interlinears

Don't feel embarrassed if you use an interlinear to help you learn a foreign language. As a pastor once put it, "Halitosis is better than no breath at all." He's right!