December 2011 Blog Archives 2
Saturday, December 31
9:40 PM Just had to share this picture with you. Here's Nigusse before a warm fire in our library studying the Second London Confession of 1689 on my new iPad. He's taking Baptist History with Keith Harper starting the day after tomorrow. What fun!
7:08 PM As we ring in a new year, my heart is filled with gratitude. So many undeserved blessings. Family. Food. Fellowship. Fun. Life. Love. Work to do for the kingdom. Happy New Year to all of you.
11:28 AM Please join me in welcoming Pam Brown to the wonderful world of blogging. Now why in the world would she do something as demanding and time-consuming as that? In her own words:
Welcome, Pam. May God use your blog to be a great blessing and encouragement to many.
11:20 AM My colleague Alvin Reid says the Great Commission is also the Global Commission. Amen to that. It's also, to continue to play on the letters "GC," the Great Cause. Really, it's the only thing that matters in life. Paul says so (Phil. 1:27).
"Rise up, O men of God, have done with lesser things!"
11:10 AM Also this morning, Becky and I have been enjoying 3 new Christian music CDs, gifts from some very special people who really know how to practice grace. I want to become like that, more and more. Giving is a grace that can be practiced anywhere. I have often found it where I least expected it. When some hardworking businessman manages to manifest more grace than a renowned Bible scholar, it gives one pause. Honestly, I'm more impressed by benevolence than by knowledge. It's easy to opine. It's even easier to gripe. Anybody can do that. Only great Christians are truly kind.
Thank you, Simon and Kathy, for these wonderful CDs. May God fill your hands with honey (Judges 14:6-9).
10:55 AM This morning, as we "patiently" await the arrival of Matt, Liz, and the kids, Becky has been preparing gifts. She's sewed pajamas for each member of the family, including our precious little Mercy Magdalene.
Can't wait for everyone to try them on. Photo to come!
(Don't hold your breath.)
10:31 AM It's a gorgeous day here in Southside Virginia, sunny and warm. A good day for reflection. So, what are your New Years' resolutions? Doing anything differently this year? I for one am going to begin meeting regularly with a group of men I greatly admire and trust. We're all "laypeople"; none of us is "ordained." But we're all in fulltime Christian ministry. Napoleon claimed that a man becomes the man of his uniform. Do you know what we are? Jesus called the 70 His "lambs." Interesting term! It highlights our vulnerability, our weaknesses. Yes, we are His sheep. We need the Shepherd -- and each other. It's been a while since I've met with a group of Iron Men ("as iron sharpens iron"). I'm ready to start up again.
So, how 'bout you? Will you be doing anything differently in the New Year?
Friday, December 30
6:48 PM The Hebrew University of Jerusalem announces an opening in Religious Studies.
6:35 PM Energion is offering a fantastic pre-order sale. If you like good books, at a discounted price, check it out here.
5:08 PM Thanks to all who've sent in their iPad app suggestions. Keep 'em coming! I'm especially excited about Dropbox.
5:02 PM Been following Danny and Charlotte Akin's tweets from Israel. Here they are enjoying the Sea of Galilee.
Becky and I once spent 5 days in a youth hostel in Capernaum. Awesome experience. This coming summer we've enrolled Nigusse in a course in the history and geography of Israel at Jerusalem University College. It will be life-changing.
3:10 PM Good afternoon, bloggers and bloggerettes! Nigusse just gave me his camera's SD card. There were 621 photos! Care to enjoy a sampling with me? That way you and I can take a trip to Dallas, vicariously!
Here's the flight from RDU to DFW. It's just like my Becky to give Nigu the window seat so he can enjoy the scenery from 35,000 feet. I love her!
This is "Willow Wood," mom and dad's home in what used to be the country until it got gobbled up by the greater Dallas megalopolis. The town is called Murphy and sits adjacent to Plano.
This scene brings back lots of happy memories -- sitting around the breakfast table chewing the fat.
The two Ethiopians on their way to Grace Bible Church to talk about -- what else? -- Utopia.
Here's Becky in Don King's Sunday School class.
Of course, what's a trip to Dallas without a visit to THE seminary? Becky's grandparents were key players in the founding of DTS, and her grandfather sat on the Board of Trustees for many years. Her dad, of course, earned his Th.M. there before sailing for Ethiopia.
Here's Nigusse getting a history lesson: Chafer, Walvoord, etc.
The DTS library is truly impressive.
Here's Nigusse in the DTS bookstore. "Look, dad, one of your books!"
South of Dallas, in a town called Desoto, live Ray and Lauralee Lindholm, who spent the better part of 30 years living and working among the Munz tribe of Ethiopia. Today their ministry is called Heart for Ethiopia.
Then it was on to SIL.
Here they meet Peter Unseth, an expert in all things Amharic.
Did I mention that Dallas has a large Ethiopian ex-pat population? This means, of course, some great Ethiopian food.
Trivia: This log cabin was the first structure to be built in Dallas long ago when it was a mere trading post.
More trivia: The building from which Lee Harvey Oswald shot JFK.
Even more trivia: You know you're (in)famous when they name a street after you!
Nigusse and dad hit it off big time. Both have a love for all things Ethiopian, including books.
The Murphy Cemetery. It's quite a historic site. In fact, Becky and I are charter members of the Murphy Cemetery Association.
Our friends Maël and Cindy hosted B. and N. on a visit to Southwestern Seminary.
Here David Allen gives Nigusse a copy of Text-Driven Preaching, which David co-edited along with my colleagues Ned Matthews and Danny Akin. (I contributed the chapter on exegesis.)
So, what was this trip all about? It was about missions, about family, about connecting. Mom and dad, you were the perfect hosts, as always. We will be eternally grateful for your love and godly example. Blessings on you, and Happy New Year!
10:50 AM Just added to my 2012 meeting schedule:
1) March 3-4, SBL Regional Meeting, Atlanta, GA
2) March 9-10, ETS Regional Meeting, Fort Worth, TX
3) March 23-24, ETS Regional Meeting, Wake Forest, NC
Hope to see many of my readers there. If you are a prospective doctoral student, this is an excellent opportunity to meet face to face.
10:42 AM On Monday I will be greeting a brand new class of beginning Greek students. Welcome to each one of you! Let me tell you why I am teaching Greek. It is simply this. God has a plan for individuals. And He has communicated this plan to us in His Word. Our God is a communicative God, and He has made known His will to and through His spokesmen who penned the Scriptures. Biblical truth is just that: truth that is communicated in and through the Bible. It is truth that is at once "inspired by God" and "profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that the man [or woman] of God may be complete, equipped for every good work." It is clear that biblical truth is not given for knowledge's sake alone. I therefore emphatically agree with the old Scottish proverb that says: "Greek, Hebrew, and Latin all have their proper place. But it is not at the head of the cross, where Pilate put them, but at the foot of the cross in humble service to Jesus." The ultimate reason for teaching and learning New Testament Greek is that, properly applied, it can issue in a "readiness for every good work" – that is, a life that is equipped to do God's will and go God's way.
What all this implies is that if we are to move from the classroom to real life we will have to prize what we learn and view it as a life skill and not merely as an educational attainment. Of course, this is not easy. Almost all of us feel tremendous ambivalence as we wrestle with the question of just how to apply what we learn in the classroom to the real world. Obviously, knowledge of Greek is essential if we are to have a firm foundation upon which to build our exegesis of the New Testament. On the other hand, I must say forcefully that facts, no matter how brilliantly taught or diligently acquired, are nothing more than the raw building blocks of life. How we put them together, and for what use (and whose glory), is another matter altogether.
On Monday you will take the first step in the adventure of a lifetime. I will be there as your guide and encourager. But we will have only one Teacher. My prayer is that all of us will look to Him and Him alone for the help we will need not merely to get by in this class but to excel for His glory.
10:31 AM Missions news ...
1) Becky has been working nonstop on our speaking schedule for Ethiopia. Thus far we will be at the following venues:
2) Becky and Nigusse had two great meetings in Dallas speaking about Ethiopia. Several people have expressed an interest in going with us to Ethiopia this summer.
3) Nigusse and brother Joel from Bethel Hill will be in India February 26 through March 7. This will be Nigusse's first trip to Asia.
4) My next international trip will be April 1-10.
5) Yesterday and this morning I regaled Becky with stories from my latest trip. Much was accomplished but much more remains to be done. "Oh, that I could spend every moment of my life to God's glory!" -- David Brainerd.
Thursday, December 29
7:15 PM They're H-O-M-E. Say that word again: Home. Safe and sound. And sleepy. Both have gone to bed. But not before we had some good laughs together. The Lord indeed gave them a wonderful trip. I'm one grateful husband and father. Between my mission trip and Becky's sojourn in Dallas, we were separated for 24 days. I can't tell you how lonely I was. Loneliness is a terrible thing. No one ever really escapes it. And now mom and dad are lonely for their eldest daughter. It goes on and on. The good news is that loneliness is not necessarily rejection. I may not have been happy the whole time Becky and I were separated. But I was usually joyful. Joy is a far better thing. But then again, there's nothing wrong with the happiness of human companionship. In fact, it's downright delightful. I missed not only Becky but also Nigusse. Both fill my days with life and love. Believe me, that's a lot to be thankful for.
Welcome home, you two. Sleep well.
4:28 PM Felicity Dale asks Was the Great Commission given only to the eleven disciples? Excellent question. Excellent answer!
3:27 PM Becky and Nigusse just called from RDU. They're back in Nawf Carolinah. The puppies and I are anxiously awaiting their arrival!
12:50 PM Do you remember the words of missionary martyr Jim Elliot?
I thought of these words today when I read this comparison between being "imprisoned" by church traditions and literal imprisonment for the sake of Christ. As many of you know, I often travel to Asia, Africa, and the Middle East assisting the persecuted church. I have seen the suffering, up close and personal. As much as I deplore many of our unbiblical church traditions, I find the comparison unhelpful and inaccurate. Of course many of us feel trapped in our manmade traditions. And yes, we are called to suffer for the sake of Christ (Phil. 1:29). But the suffering of the persecuted church is, in my mind, in another category altogether, and I will continue to do whatever I can to make Americans who are cozy sitting in their padded pews (or on their living room sofas) as uncomfortable as possible about it. Not only do I make no apologies for it, I think that with every passing year it becomes more and more obvious to me that the most important thing we can be doing in our churches -- regardless of our ecclesiology -- is to get rid of our lukewarm insipid faith and take up the cross of self-discipline, suffering, and real sacrifice for the sake of the Gospel. If I have any prayer for the readers of my blog, it is that God will use it to help you take steps in this direction in your personal and congregational life. Jesus is calling all of us to a radical lifestyle lived from obedience that affects the world. With tears in my eyes, I say that as long as we are content to live out a religion of externals (home church versus institutional church, the Lord's Supper as a full meal versus the Lord's Supper as bread and cup, etc.), we will continue to miss the mark. Never in the history of the world has there been so much discussion about the church and Christianity but, I feel, so little real knowledge of God. Jesus made it clear that His mandate for each of us is to do the will of the Father by going into the fields just as the Father sent Him (John 4:34-38). This means that "missions" is not just one of several options for our churches. God is not asking us to give money to missions. He is asking us to make missions the central passion and thrust of our lives and congregations. When I think of your church, is that what I think of? Or of my church? Tragically, many of us have developed a church-first mentality that is distracting us from our main task. I should know, because I have been the chief of sinners in this regard.
There is a way out of this mess. New Testament Christianity is not reserved only for super saints who are doing all the "right" things church-wise. It is for every believer, whatever your church structure, whatever your location or occupation, whatever your circumstances in life. Jesus wants to live His life through us in the world. The only question is: Will we let Him? Our problem today is that we want it all, and we want it now. But we have to choose our priorities. Yes, I will continue to call us back to the Scriptures as far as church life is concerned. But my constant prayer is that God will help me to do it with a broken heart and with a renewed willingness to make a deliberate calculation to accept sacrifice and suffering for the sake of following Christ.
For more on this subject, see my essay Paper Perfect Churches.
9:54 AM Top iPad recommendation so far: Accordance.
9:46 AM Calling all Greek geeks! SEBTS student Jacob Cerone has been having fun with codex Vaticanus.
Here's a sampling:
Lots of other good stuff at Jacob's site as well.
By the way, can you translate the title of his blog into English (without looking up the Greek word)?
8:27 AM Good morning, blogging buds! I'm spending some time today setting up my iPad 2. If you've got any suggestions for good apps you think I should have, please email me at email@example.com or list them on your blog. I'm especially interested in Bible study helps, Bible versions, etc. Thanks, friends.
Wednesday, December 28
10:28 PM Just spoke with Becky. She and Nigu had a fantastic day at Southwestern. I want to thank David Allen for taking time to meet with them. He is always a gracious host. Before they arrived I called David and taught him a few basic Amharic expressions. I thought Nigusse would enjoy it if the dean of Southwestern Seminary greeted him in his native tongue. Thanks, David, for being such a good sport and playing along.
Right now Becky is helping her dad with his website. If you're not familiar with it, it's called Good Amharic Books. Once again, this is Cyberspace at its best. You can download for free hundreds of Bible study books in Amharic. Thus dad continues the work for Ethiopia he began so many years ago when he and his wife and their baby daughter left by freighter for the Horn of Africa.
Brad Lapsley has been a great example to our family of a man who serves his God despite his advancing years. The greatest of all pedestrians is the Christian who walks with the Lord in the light of His Word. God bless you, dad.
3:05 PM Al Mohler has listed his top news stories of 2011. It makes for fascinating reading. For what it's worth, I think THE top story of 2011 is Al's 10th and final pick: "The Redefinition of the Book and Publishing." He notes, "2011 may well be remembered as the year that readers had to decide whether to read a book in print, or on screen." I'd guess that over half of my books are now available as e-books. Let me also put in here a good word about the Internet. It's almost impossible to exaggerate how important the world wide web is for publishing one's thoughts and ideas. Add to that the simplicity of Windows and you have literally millions of self-published authors who are disseminating their own content in digital form. I began my writing career using a machine called a typewriter. Think of what one human being today can do with a PC. This represents a huge advancement in personal empowerment. It's what made the Arab Spring so successful, for without social networking who would have known? This amazing thing we call Cyberspace has become a self-publisher's dream. And even web dummies like me can operate it without understanding the complexities of computers and cables.
So, two and a half cheers for electronic publishing. I think Al would agree. After all, I read his thoughts on his -- blog!
12:32 PM Greek students! My Greek 1 syllabus for J-term has just been uploaded to the seminary website. My thanks to Alan Knox for his help!
11:02 AM Hearty congratulations to Larry Hurtado for having his book God in New Testament Theology published in French. Larry writes:
Amen to that. I might take it a step further. Where is a section on the "Father" in our theology books? It's missing. You'll find chapters on "Christology"" and Pneumatology." You'll also generally find a section called "Theology Proper." But the Father is forgotten. If our theology is to be balanced, shouldn't we have a corresponding chapter on "Patrology"? (Yes, I realize we can't that use that word because of its use by patristics scholars, but it really is the perfect counterpart to Christology and Pneumatology.) I'm not sure how to put this into shoe leather. Maybe you've got some ideas.
10:50 AM Looking ahead ....
1) Becky and Nigusse arrive tomorrow afternoon. They tell me they've had a wonderful time in Dallas. But they miss home. Home misses them more.
2) This weekend we're hosting Matt and Liz and the grandkids (Caleb, Isaac, Micah, and Mercy Magdalene). They're visiting from Upstate New York. Dinner menu calls for Ethiopian food.
3) On Monday, Greek 1 begins on campus. We're meeting from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon in Binckley 104. See you there!
4) Next weekend I'm speaking at Weems Creek Baptist Church in Annapolis, Maryland, on Saturday night and Sunday morning. On Monday morning I will hold a pastors workshop on the book of Philippians. Nice serendipity: They've arranged a tour of the United States Naval Academy for me.
10:21 AM Odds and ends ...
1) Arthur Sido claims that all true farmers have beards. He's right, of course. (The same is true of all brilliant intellectuals, Arthur.)
2) Paul Himes wants you to meet some neglected works on 1 Peter.
3) Harrison's bleeding has stabilized. For updates go here.
4) Lisa Robinson wants a word with all of you worship music nit-pickers.
5) The 400th anniversary celebration of the King James Bible comes to an end.
Tuesday, December 27
9:30 PM What a wonderful year it's been. Sure, we've had our disappointments. Sure, there's been pain. But I can assure you, the joys have far outweighed the stresses. Truly, great is His faithfulness! As a tribute, then, to the goodness of our great God, I offer the following "Year in Review." These pictures represent a mere sampling of the blessings God granted us in 2011. I invite you to praise Him with us.
My J-term Greek class.
Michael Rudolph, the first of three outstanding doctoral students to pass his Ph.D. comps this year under my tutelage.
Enjoying an outing with Nate, Jess, and, of course, Mr. Blue Eyes himself.
This year I began -- and completed -- the revision of my Basel dissertation, first published in 1984.
My all-time favorite chapel service of the year: Commissioning our students as they leave for the foreign mission field.
The first of two student days at the farm.
Easter sunrise service on the lake.
Becky made this beautiful quilt for pastor Jason and his family.
The view of my farm from 30,000 feet as I made the first of three trips in 2011 to a foreign country to teach Greek.
Enjoying delectable Korean food with one of my Th.M. students and his wife.
Former students Mike and Courtney Sexton joined us for dinner at Bradford Hall.
Becky teaching the young ladies of the church how to sew.
Teaching the cohort from Uganda and Tanzania on campus.
Becky giving one of many Ethiopia presentations this year in various churches.
February was the month for Becky's Cyberknife treatments to reduce her lung tumors.
Once it's over you get to "ring the gong" at UNC.
Becky's mom plays her flute at church on a visit from Dallas. Becky accompanies.
Teaching a beginning Greek class for laypeople at Mount Pleasant Baptist Church in North Wilkesboro, NC.
Getting up hay.
Hosting Ugandans in our home.
Speaking in chapel at Cary Christian Academy.
Welcome to America, Nigusse!
Planting our summer garden.
Sharing a few thoughts about excellence at our faculty worship.
The Glass family pays us a visit.
Nolan loves his new baby brother Bradford.
Speaking to the Internationals Class at Mount Vernon Baptist Church in Raleigh.
Ed.D. student Thomas Hudgins and his wife Lesly join us for dinner.
Reception for Nigusse at Bradford Hall.
Becky and I attended the Wheaton Theology Conference next to the famous College Church, where Becky's uncle once pastored.
Jason and Stacy Hatley from Bethel Hill share a meal with us.
Holding a Bible conference at Rock Spring Baptist Church.
Our donks Tinnish Koi and Tolo Tolo arrive at Rosewood Farm.
Nigusse speaking at Cresset Baptist Church in Durham.
Feeding migrant farm workers in North Carolina.
Speaking at a youth retreat at Lake Gaston.
Holding revival services at Hunt Spring Baptist Church near Sanford.
Farm clean up day.
Nigusse checks out his first library books.
Cutting up debris after a devastating tornado strikes the Bethel Hill community.
Nigusse presenting Danny Akin with a gift from Ethiopia.
My private Greek class in Dallas.
Teaching a seminar on Philippians for Sunday School teachers in Greensboro.
Becky holding Mercy Rondeau, born on my birthday (June 9)!
As you can see, it was a great year. But another year past means another year ahead. The Psalmist prayed that God would not forsake him when he was old and gray (Psa. 71:18). As we grow older, our struggles don't necessarily grow fewer. Just because I am saved should not make me complacent with what I have attained. There remains much land to be possessed. I press toward the mark. I'm not just looking up, I'm looking unto Jesus. And when I face trials, I will listen for His gracious Word above the storm, "Be of good cheer; it is I; do not be afraid." Whatever the new year may hold for us, let's remember who is holding us.
So then, from our house to yours, Happy Newness Year (Rom. 6:4). May 2012 be our best year ever as we serve King Jesus. He is worthy!
4:58 PM I see that Alan Knox is at it again, dispelling our misconceptions about Greek words and such. Right he is to put to bed our crazy notion that somehow the Greek word ekklesia means "called out." But it is just here that I would like to make a brief point if I may. Christians are indeed called out of the world. John 17:6 says so: "I have manifested Your name to the people whom you gave Me out of the world." But don't miss verse 18 of the very same chapter: "As You sent Me into the world, so I have sent them into the world." Christians are to be a separate people, but it is easy to overdo our separation. The reason we have been called out of the world is to be sent back into it. The sick need the physician, said Jesus, not the healthy. Jesus was separate from this world, yet no one associated more with a sinful generation than He.
OUT OF -- and then INTO. That's the divine pattern.
And that applies no matter what ecclesiastical terms we use.
11:41 AM Finally, Christianity Today offers up a hard-hitting essay on...
Huzzah!!!!!! Read Beards: A Hairy Topic in My Household.
10:52 AM Interesting news stories I've been following ...
1) Journalists sentenced in Ethiopia.
2) U.S. teenager sets 7-peak record, including Everest.
3) Republican Politics has become the new "American Idol."
4) Fear grips Nigeria after Christmas attacks.
5) Lamb born at Ohio nativity scene.
10:36 AM The story continues to unfold ...
At the conclusion of my interview with Paige Patterson in 1997, I was asked a most unusual question. "Dave," he said, "if I were to send you to a level-three security nation on a mission trip, and you knew there was a strong possibility you would not come back alive, would you go?" As you can well imagine, I had never been asked that question in a job interview before. I requested a minute to think about it, and then I replied, "Yes, sir, I believe I would." I can see clearly enough now what Dr. Patterson was trying to do. I had endeavored, it is true, to be involved in missions prior to coming to Southeastern Seminary. Never before, however, had I been asked to risk my life for the sake of the Gospel. The supreme importance of the Great Commission struck me for the first time in my life. Today, many come to me with questions about how to prioritize the Gospel and integrate it into the rest of their lives. I often ask them the same question I was asked by Paige Patterson.
Today, Danny Akin has maintained and deepened the commitment at Southeastern to the Great Commission. "Every classroom a Great Commission classroom" is our motto. The is one of the biggest reasons I love teaching at SEBTS. No longer do we have to protect our pet doctrine or our departmental turf. We have a greater responsibility. I believe that 2 Cor. 5:14-21 teaches that we are all to be Christ's ambassadors. We have been given the ministry of reconciliation. This means that every activity, every effort, every program, every project is to be evaluated in terms of how it contributes to the ultimate mission of the church and of the seminary -- global evangelization. The Great Commission leaves us no option. Jesus makes no apology for demanding obedience in this area. Global missions is to be the task of every individual Christian and every church and every Christian organization. It is the Lord's final charge to us before He ascended to the Father's right hand. Measured against that, can anything else be more important?
In my book The Jesus Paradigm I told about my life-changing encounter with this Jesus who loved lost souls so desperately that He was willing to spend His ministry reaching out to sinners of all kinds. He saw what was of ultimate importance in life. No wonder He could live for others as a selfless servant. This is also, I believe, the acid test of any seminary that claims to honor Christ. Does what we do square with the Great Commission? Or is our institution just another tangent that detracts from the other-centeredness of the Gospel? It is when we realize that we are building the kingdom and not our own little ministries that the great growth really begins in our lives. When we stop focusing on ourselves, we are free to act on the really important questions.
Plainly, I did not always view the purpose of graduate theological education in these terms!
(To be continued ....)
9:47 AM Steve McKinion continues to request prayer for his son Harrison. Doctors are working hard to alleviate the blood clots. He did have a stroke. "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in time of trouble."
Monday, December 26
10:23 PM Speaking of DTS, did you know that there is a website devoted exclusively to the life and ministry of John Walvoord, former president of Dallas Seminary? It features audio messages, articles, books, and more. Check out Walvoord.com today!
9:35 PM I spoke with both Becky and Nigusse today. Becky's latest project? Wallpapering a room for her mother. Man, God will honor her loving and supportive response to her parent's needs! As for Nigusse, he has been reviewing my Greek DVDs in preparation for taking Greek 2 with me in the spring. He finished chapter 7 today. Only 5 more to go. I'm so proud of him. On Wednesday they are visiting the "other" seminary in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, SWBTS. (They've already toured the hallowed halls of DTS.) I've arranged for Nigusse to meet my good friend (and arch nemesis when it comes to the authorship of Hebrews) David Allen, the dean at Southwestern. He'll also get a tour of their state-of-the-art library. Becky and Nigusse are having such a good time they are beginning to make me feel obsolete. They return on Thursday. Which means I have a lot of house cleaning to do on Wednesday.
Incidentally, if you're unfamiliar with our DVD set, here's a clip for your entertainment. The DVDs might have been better, but they were as good as I knew how to make them.
One last thing. We have not yet been able to post the syllabus for my J-Term Greek course to Campus Net. This is because my secretary is on sick leave. So please bear with me. I will likely have to bring hard copies with me to our first day of class on Jan. 2. In the meantime, the only thing you really need to know is that our textbook is Learn to Read New Testament Greek. (I'm trying it out to see if it's any good.) It's available in our bookstore (and elsewhere).
See you in class!
8:55 PM Just got word that my colleague Steve McKinion's son Harrison has been rushed to the hospital with 5 brain bleeds and a stroke. This is serious folks. Please pray.
5:18 PM Odds and ends ...
1) Thomas Hudgins asks Is experience required to serve as a pastor?
2) If you're studying German, Andy Bowden has got a great link he'd like you to know about.
3) Alan Knox enjoys being linked!
4) Matthew McDill says adapt or die.
5) Markus Twisdale offers us a simple sketch of his life.
By the way, all of these bloggers have one thing in common: they are either current or former students of mine. I am blessed to know each one.
3:12 PM Hello fellow bloggers! This afternoon I feel like recording some memories, with or without your permission. I am writing, of course, for the benefit of my grandchildren, who, I'm sure, will be too busy earning a living to care whether their grandfather ever knew Woody Jacobs or visited historic Civil War sites in Virginia. Perhaps you will be a better audience.
I began the day by having breakfast at Shoney's with a member of the Jesus Revolution. If you know Woody, you know he will challenge you to follow Jesus to the max. I'm glad to know another Christian on a less-traveled road. Thanks, Woody, for the fellowship. Looking forward to doing it again real soon.
Then it was off to the heart of Virginia to pay a visit to a place I'd read about but never actually seen in person. After the Civil War, people created a symbol out of Robert E. Lee. Actually, he was a normal human being who bore the normal burdens of life. During his recuperation in Richmond he accepted circumstances beyond his control and had the courage and wisdom to do the best he could with the conditions God had given him. "Life is indeed gliding away," he said, "and I have nothing good to share for mine that is past. I pray I may be spared to accomplish something for the good of mankind and the glory of God." One month after the war he wrote to a friend, "My purpose is to procure some humble home for my family for the present until I can provide some means of providing it with subsistence." The sanctuary Lee sought was provided by Mrs. Elizabeth Cocke, whose plantation ("Oakland") lay about 50 miles west of Richmond. She offered Lee the use of a small house called Derwent on grounds adjoining her estate.
Called a "cottage," Derwent was a two-story-and-basement frame house with four rooms, two on each floor, with a dining room in the basement. It was here that Lee lived until he moved to Lexington 3 months later to become the president of Washington College.
If you drive back to the main highway and go north about a mile you'll come to Muddy Creek Baptist Church.
Older than the nation, it was constituted in 1774. I was graciously given a tour of the facility by Derek, the pastor's son. Here I'm standing in front of the original doors.
The building was re-bricked after a fire in the 1960s, but here you can see the original brickwork.
It is said that Robert E. Lee, though an Episcopalian, often attended services here. To the rear is a cemetery in which I counted the graves of at least 3 Confederate soldiers. On September 14, 1865, Lee left for Lexington on his steed Traveler and never returned to Derwent. His wife Mary wrote a friend, "I do not think he is very fond of teaching, but he is willing to do anything that will give him an honorable support." Sure sounds like 1 Thess. 4:11-12 to me.
Speaking of labor, I'm off to get some work done in the garden. This day is just too beautiful to pass up an opportunity to work outdoors.
Thanks for stopping by.
Sunday, December 25
5:56 PM Wow! What a great time I had with the saints of God! Like the early church, Bethel Hill has an extraordinary commitment to outreach. The entire focus of our service this morning was on the Great Commission. We began with "Joy to the World" and ended with "Go Tell It on the Mountains." Jesus, our ultimate Leader, came to "seek and to save what was lost" and "to give His life a ransom for many." He did give His all. He fulfilled His mission. Now He tells us to go. Every Christian is part of the church to which Christ gave the Great Commission. We need nothing less than 100 percent participation. I believe we are living in the midst of a Great Awakening in the slumbering Body of Christ. Everywhere I travel in the world, people are dreaming new dreams of what it means to be the church and to love the world for which Christ died. Maybe I'm a little crazy, but I want to live -- and die if necessary -- making the Jesus way of life accessible to people. Even in the country I just visited. Especially there. Listen, the odds are indecent. The enemy is everywhere! Ever seen a lamb send a pack of wolves running? It can happen. It is happening. It's not because the wolves are afraid of the lambs. It's because they're afraid of the Shepherd.
That, in essence, was what my message was about this morning. The persecuted church in [ ] is not a defeated church. It is a victorious church. The church always is when it trusts the Shepherd. Sure, the pressure is intense. Sure, the persecution is escalating. (I documented this fact.) It's tremble time -- but not for the church! When the Shepherd says, "Go, I'm sending you," the sent ones go under the protection of His commission. Always have. Always will. Friend, don't fear the foe. Yes, the opposition is strong. Yes, it is even deadly at times. But we will be vindicated. Our choice to follow the Shepherd, our choice to turn our backs on everything this old world holds so dear, will be vindicated. Just you wait and see.
This was a very special day for yet another reason. This would have been the birthday of my former dean, Russ Bush. He went home to be with the Lord a few years ago after battling cancer.
Russ was a lover of old books and of bass fishing. He taught philosophy well. I still possess an autographed copy of his magnum opus, Baptists and the Bible. I grew very fond of him. The extraordinary faculty assembled at the seminary was due largely to his efforts. He found his considerable talents and abilities fully employed in seminary administration and in planning for the various new programs of the school. He had many delightful personal qualities and a strong following among both the faculty and the students. He became, as everyone knows, a formidable cancer fighter. Even when he was sick, he treated others with an elaborate Southern courtesy that today seems a trifle old-fashioned. But in him it was genuine. No one among his friends had any uncertainty as to his nobility of character. He held himself inflexibly to his God-given tasks, and I would venture to say that the seminary today is much the better for it. It is the ancient story of the hero -- and of the martyr. He will always be missed.
Merry Christmas to all,
Saturday, December 24
9:42 PM Good news! An Ethiopian Bible manuscript returns to its home country. You can watch a video about it here.
8:52 PM Please remember my colleague Steve McKinion and his family in your prayers at this time. Their youngest son is being treated for leukemia. Steve writes:
Harrison is being treated at UNC. Who knows, maybe Becky and I will run into him sometime. I don't know what Harrison is going through, but I do know what Steve is experiencing. Steve, you are right: Because of the trial, God's promises are indeed "sweeter" than ever before. He promises His strong arms of support and assistance to all who determine to rely on His inerrant Word and trust Him through the painful but essential process of change.
God bless you my brother. You are in my heart, thoughts, and prayers.
7:51 PM Newsflash! Logos Bible Software is announcing a special 2011 Christmas package. That's right, folks. For only $825 dollars you get 500 books by 434 authors and 116 different publishers. Is it worth it? Of course it is! It contains at least two of MY books!
5:25 PM Even though Becky is in Dallas she continues to blog at the Bethel Hill site. Her latest post is called I wonder ....
4:28 PM My good friend and publisher Henry Neufeld has just posted some wonderful thoughts about Christmas.
Read An Incarnational Christmas Witness. Thanks, Henry, for the reminder that Christmas is all about getting the Gospel out to those who have never heard.
3:04 PM The Society for the German Language has announced its Word of the Year for 2011. It is none other that "Stresstest."
If you had to pick one word to describe the year gone by, what would it be? I think mine would possibly be Whew! It is one thing to set annual goals for yourself. It's another thing entirely to get them finished. One of my major goals this year was to revise my doctoral dissertation (Paul, Apostle of Weakness) for publication and to write a book on global evangelism. What a relief it was to get these manuscripts into the hands of their publishers. Winston Churchill's comments on writing a book are often quoted by authors, and with good reason:
What author can't identify with those sentiments! Secondly, this year the Lord graciously allowed me to train up a new generation of Greek teachers in a foreign land that desperately needs good teachers. I made three trips this year and, believe me, foreign travel is tough! Was it worth it? Indeed it was! I'm glad I stuck it out.
I can think of only one thing that has been more difficult than writing or traveling this year, and that has been the cancer journey that I've been on with Becky. I am honest when I say that dealing with cancer is more costly, more time-consuming, and more demanding than almost anything else one does in life. But it is also perhaps more rewarding. There is a "calmness of the soul" that God develops in those who are yielded to Him. I especially appreciated the way Becky faced every step of her journey with courage and with a vibrant Christian witness. I'm convinced that there are dozens of people at UNC Hospital who would never have known the love of Jesus up close and personal had not Becky contracted this dreaded disease.
Someone has said that pain is inevitable but misery is a choice. That's why I want to end this year by saying to anyone who will listen: God's grace is sufficient. He holds out hope and encouragement no matter what you are going through, and because He is absolutely sovereign we can declare (without reservation) that His promises are reliable. But we must give Him full freedom to step into our lives. We must establish those vertical priorities that lead to a godly mindset. The greatest delight of my life is knowing Him. He alone allows me to:
So, what is your "Word of the Year" for 2011?
9:05 AM I've been working on my slide show for tomorrow's missions presentation. What an awesome trip it was. It's just as awesome to report about it to the Body, as we read in Acts 14:27:
How thankful I am for a Great Commission church like Bethel Hill!
8:21 AM Just received Christmas greetings from a friend in Australia. Yes, it's already Christmas Day Down Under!
8:04 AM The saga continues ...
I've already mentioned that 1976 was the year I began teaching Greek courses at Biola College. What a dream come true! I was like a boy taking his first theology lesson and saying that he would like to be a Karl Barth. The salary was microscopic, but in those days very little could be expected if one was a humble instructor.
When I returned from Basel I picked up my teaching mantel again at Biola, though it was not long before I would be wooed away. In Long Beach an effort was underway by Grace Seminary in Indiana to establish a West Coast Campus. My appointment as academic dean at Grace Graduate School (a ministry of the Grace Brethren Church of Long Beach) was to be the first step in making that a reality. Eventually, Grace West opened its doors as the fully-accredited extension campus of Grace Seminary in Winona Lake. I was not so keen about the commute this involved from my home in La Mirada, but the opportunity to reach students with a non-traditional schedule was too good to pass up. Our goal was never to compete with what Biola was doing; our courses were targeted at those students who could only attend classes in the evenings or on the weekends. We were working hard to reach out to the ethnic minorities in Southern California, and were seeing some success. How idealistic I was then!
I was brought back to earth sharply. Political dissention on the main campus in Indiana led to the closure of Grace West after only three short years of operation. It was an intensely difficult time for me. I saw my vision collapse for what I saw as no good reason. Back to Biola I went, and there I remained until 1998, though I was also moonlighting at other institutions such as Simon Greenleaf University and Golden Gate Seminary's Brea campus. Personally I owe Biola much -- and not merely because it offered me my first chance to earn a living. It was there that I cut my eye teeth as a classroom teacher under the watchful supervision of Dr. Harry Sturz, one of the finest Greek professors who ever graced the halls of academia. He watched me, with those glittering eyes, incessantly. In my classes I was left free to do my work in my way. In the evenings I worked steadily at my writing and tried to keep current with the latest scholarship. It seems to me now that in my early thirties I had more intellectual curiosity and energy than I do now, but in those days the world of academia meant for more to me than than it does today.
In 1998 I was called to Southeastern Seminary, then under its new president, Dr. Paige Patterson. I had no great desire to leave the West Coast, but since several eastern institutions were courting me I decided to write Dr. Patterson and send him my resume. In November of 1997 Becky and I were flown out to Wake Forest for an interview. I must say it was love at first sight. We were made at home in the spacious Lion House and feted night and day by various members of the faculty. There were many interviews, of course. In the one with the president I was able to ask any question I wanted to. I recall inquiring about office protocol. "How many office hours do you require for your faculty each week?" I asked. I will never forget Dr. Patterson's answer. He smiled at me and said, "Dave, around here we have only one rule: We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ. Act accordingly." I thought to myself, This is a place I'd like to work at! Perhaps the most attractive feature of Southeastern for me at that time was its fledgling Ph.D. program in Biblical Studies. I knew that if I ever relocated it would be to a place where I could mentor doctoral students. Thus it was that in the summer of 1998 we moved the horses and goats and settled down in the tobacco fields of Granville County, North Carolina. Some of my work at the seminary, like that of every teacher, is of the grindstone variety, but by no means all. One is almost given carte blanche as to courses and hours, and overloads are usually available. I began teaching the Advanced Greek Grammar course as well as a Ph.D. seminar in Greek Linguistics. I have been able to host two major New Testament conferences on campus, a place of keen enjoyment of academic debate. I have found both the physical climate and the spiritual atmosphere of Southeastern to be more than congenial. I still miss the deserts of the American West, but I have found the pace of life here to be relaxing and soothing after the frantic hubbub of Southern California.
6:52 AM Several bloggers have been recommending books to read in 2012. Others have noted their favorite books of 2011. I'd like to re-post here my ten best books for studying New Testament Greek (excluding my own books, of course). I hope many of you will read them if you haven't done so already.
1. William Mounce, Basics of Biblical Greek.
Mounce's beginning grammar remains perhaps the most widely used introductory textbook of New Testament Greek. Speaking as an author of a beginning Greek textbook, I am glad that Mounce's grammar has had the recognition it so richly deserves and offer my best wishes for its continuance, since the book is a great service to students everywhere. No matter which beginning textbook you used, you will need to own this grammar as well.
2. Dan Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics.
Wallace's intermediate grammar is a tour de force. It is absolutely impossible to describe the profundity of this book. I prefer to recommend it to you and then let you discover its treasures. The pedagogical implications, however, are such that I cannot agree to them without compromising what is dearest to me as a teacher -- simplicity. It would do good service if one day the book could be rewritten and placed on a slightly lower shelf. Oh wait -- this has already been done!
3. A. T. Robertson, A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical Research.
I seldom felt so pitifully incompetent as when I first picked up this book. It almost counts as a "mental autobiography." Robertson tried to show the effect, upon a growing new science, of the profound transformation that modern linguistics had brought in the way scholars approached the Greek of the New Testament. Most modern teachers of Greek give the book faint praise, then promptly ignore it. In my opinion, that is a huge mistake. I require the book in my Advanced Greek Grammar course, but even intermediate level students who are willing to work will benefit from it.
At the Amazon site, Dan Wallace writes:
BDF is still the standard Greek grammar of the New Testament even after four decades. It is in the process of being revised (by a revision committee of eight members), but the revision will take several more years to complete. We felt it needed revision because BDF presupposes that the average reader has had much exposure to classical Greek prior to working in the New Testament. This is part of the reason that BDF is so hard to use: most NT students have not had exposure to classical Greek nowadays. Another reason is its cryptic nature, Teutonic abbreviations, and omission of 'normal' grammar. Nevertheless, even with these shortcomings, every responsible exegete of the New Testament must own a copy of this goldmine of information.
5. Peter Cotterell and Max Turner, Linguistics and Biblical Interpretation.
In a sense this book could be called a popularization. It seeks to bring linguistics within the grasp of educated people in general rather than leave it in the possession of a closed and mysterious community. The authors have selected the thinkers in the field who have good judgment, and their own comments are accurate and clear as well.
6. Moisés Silva, Biblical Words and Their Meaning.
This book is a retreat from the radicalism of an earlier generation of New Testament teachers that believed in "Holy Ghost" Greek. Silva's exegetical acumen fitted him well for writing a book on lexicography. This book inveighed me into actually delving into linguistics myself, and when eventually I produced my own book on linguistics it was Silva who agreed to write the preface.
This book, which suffers from gigantism, deserves a prominent place in my list because it opened an important can of worms known today as the verbal aspect debate. You mustn't expect clarity from Dr. Porter, but you must read this book. Porter impresses me as one who has his finger on the heartbeat of the problem, though I disagree with many of his conclusions.
8. Maximilian Zerwick, Biblical Greek.
When I was in seminary I was introduced to this book and lived with it night and day. Despite its recklessly ambitious preface the book largely accomplishes what it sets out to do: introduce the reader to all the categories of New Testament Greek grammar in an understandable way. It really is a first-rate piece of work.
9. Neal Windham, New Testament Greek for Preachers and Teachers.
What a pleasant surprise when I first laid eyes on this book! It covers five different areas of reading one's Greek New Testament, including morphology and the Greek cases. Why it has not attracted more attention is beyond me. I feel it is one of the most underrated books of our generation, and I'd dearly like to see it read by every student of New Testament Greek.
Having taught Greek for 35 years I can say with conviction that nothing is more important to the mastery of New Testament Greek than keeping our students in the text. Decker's book is simply the best reader available today. The readings are all engaging, and the notes are both accurate and helpful. Decker will stretch your students without breaking them. The book is also very user-friendly for the independent learner.
Obviously, by composing this list of what I believe to be essential books, I have no intention of imposing upon you harsh punishment. I can only speak personally, and -- speaking personally -- I have found each of these books to be a fascinating and helpful read. I surmise you will too. Like all books, they contain unforgivable omissions, and many pay far too little attention to English style. But they all have one thing in common: they will destroy your smugness. The sin of many seminarians is what the ancient Greeks called hubris -- arrogance in the midst of prosperity. I am partly to blame if my students graduate with a head full of knowledge and a heart full of pride. I know of nothing that will dispel our inflated egos quite like seeing how much we don't know. We are all imperfect teachers, but we may be forgiven if we have at least tried to warn our students against self-satisfied complacency.
At any rate: Happy Reading in 2012!