Greetings from Addis!
We arrived feeling drained, but are now somewhat revived after a hot
shower & meal. We came back a day early...with a little baby. This
child is named Tiblet. She is the 8th child of one of the
evangelists in Burji. The baby is a year old, but is extremely
underdeveloped. We brought the baby (with her parents) to the big
city of Awassa to meet with a pediatrician. The diagnosis is
Edwards Syndrome....it is similar to Down's Syndrome, but with a
different chromosome. The main (only?) problem is a congenital
heart defect. A new cardiac care hospital has just opened in Addis,
so tomorrow we are taking her for an echocardiogram. After this
test, we will know better if anything can be done.
please pray for the Lord's special grace to be upon us as we try to
negotiate the medical care system here in Ethiopia. I'm praying for
His clear guidance as to what, if anything, can be done. The
parents are Wolde and Bogalech. At first they were stunned with the
news, but now they are at complete peace.
we brought back an evangelist from Alaba who has been struggling
with malaria, typhoid, typhus and stomach issues for about 6-7
months! We hope to get him to a decent doctor here in Addis.
left behind in Burji a young woman named Akee; she was attacked a
year ago by the Gujis while bringing food to her father. She was
shot and then knived until they left her for dead. She was treated
at a regional hospital, but has continued to decline in health. Now
she is basically skin & bones, with huge decubitus ulcers on her
hips. In my opinion, she is beyond medical help. We left some
funds with her father, but it's likely she will die in the next few
weeks. Please pray for her...she and her brother are the only
Christians in the family.
other news, Aberash & Baby Nathan (who is now 2 years old) are doing
very well....he such a beautiful toddler! We can't wait to put some
video & pictures on the web for everyone to see.
time in Burji & in Alaba was above & beyond our expectations. The
times with the people were SO warm & nurturing. My diagnosis has
hit them hard, but they are responding with faithful prayer. One
man walked 6 hours to see me; another waited 8 days to see me. Lots
of times of crying & singing, as testimonies of His faithfulness
also had some very good meetings with the church leaders, as we've
reviewed the work in the past 5 years, and looked to the future.
The bond between us is absolutely amazing! Truly we are greatly
Dave & I are holding up well....though tired, with intermittent
health issues...we are basically in good shape. The church has been
taking good care of us. We're eager to get home & give some full
tomorrow (Thurs) will be getting Tiblet tested. Friday & Saturday
will be running more errands & meeting with folk. Saturday, Dave
boards Lufthansa & Sunday (Easter), I board Ethiopian Airlines.
love you, and appreciate your prayers for us & the Lord's work here
Dear Praying Partners....greetings from Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia! It is about
8pm Saturday night here. According to the prayer itinerary, we are supposed to be in
Soyama now, but Lufthansa lost one of Dave's bags...it was very important...so we have
delayed going down to Burji. Dave & Oshe are (hopefully) collecting it now at the
airport, and we will depart at 4am in the morning. The people are already gathered in
Soyama to greet us; the one-day delay was very disappointing to them...although we got
the word to most of them before they left their homes to meet us. Oshe has told us that
even until this time, the people were doubting that we were coming...our trip is beyond
Yesterday & today, I have been going here & there in this city to find things that we
need. God gave us 2 excellent helpers...Ephram & Nigussie...in addition to Oshe. The
solar supplies, the water purifier tablets, the oxygen tank & control valves, the
autoclave, the Bible teaching CDs & SD cards, etc.,etc.,etc. What a huge amount of
non-efficient work....but God has helped us tremendously, seemingly miraculously...if I
could tell you all the details of how things worked, you would be speechless with
amazement. This is Africa; few things make sense & fewer things work as
planned....except that the Lord intervenes! He is the Ruler & Sustainer in Africa as
well as the developed work.
In these past 2 days we have had wonderful discussions with Oshe...and what a blessing to
be able to sit & discuss the work quietly & leisurely! Some things we understand better
now. Some things are not such welcome news to us. Some things are wonderful stories of
God's grace & blessing. As with most other areas of Life, it is a mixture of
"good/bad", "blessing/trial", "ease/difficulty". The work
needs your prayers!
Please be in special prayer in the next 2 days for safe travel, for our backs (& toes :)
in the travel, for our reunion times, and especially for the BIG meeting we will have
with all the District Leaders on Monday afternoon. Please pray for strength of mind,
spirit & body...that we would be controlled by His Spirit in our thinking, speech &
emotions...that we would do His work in His way. And that we would see all things with
the view of His sovereignty, His love and His justice.
Trusting His strength,
AM Time to leave for the airport. I can hardly
believe it. I am SO excited. Jessie
and Nathan have agreed to post updates from us on this blog every couple of
days, so be sure to check in occasionally. Of course, this depends on
availability of electricity, internet service, etc. in Ethiopia, which
is never predictable. But that's our intention at least. As soon as they
hear something from us they'll post it here.
Love to all,
PM Just back from the airport and I am already
missing Becky something terrible. I tell you, this house is just not a
home without her. What to do until I leave for the airport tomorrow
morning? How about just praising the Lord for His great goodness to me!
How about focusing on the relationships He has given Becky and me in
Ethiopia! Make no mistake about it, missions is not about programs or
methods. It is about people, pure and simple. Here are some of the
precious Ethiopians whose company we shall soon enjoy again. (This is a
My Alaba buddies:
The brethren at Bedene:
Halango, Muslim leader of Deda village:
Hajji Mohammed and Fetiye, converts to the
Oshe, our point man in Soyama:
Musicians Desalyn and Zenash:
The church elders in Burji:
The school children of Alaba:
Our daughter Emebet:
Sarah of Burji:
Our son Mohammed:
As Becky and I said our goodbyes at the
airport, we looked at each other and said, "Don't you sense that this is
a critical moment in our Ethiopian work?" We feel like we are going into
the very heart of the enemy's territory and we do so without any
brilliant ideas except to do the will of God. Remember, only soldiers
who go to the battlefield are shot at. We are going into the enemy's
camp and we aren't turning back. How about you? Being Christ's
servant means going into the risky and unpleasant places of this world.
It means leaving the comfortable little retreats we have built for
ourselves to go into the mean streets of the inner cities. It means
reaching out to our neighbors who are struggling. C. T. Studd once put
it this way: "Some want to live within the sound of church or chapel
bell. I want to run a rescue ship within a yard of hell."
Through personal and corporate prayer,
let's join forces in the cosmic struggle to win others for Christ.
Genuine prayer combines obedience, submission, worship, dependence, and
humility. It waits on the Lord God to display His grace and mercy. It is
on our knees that we make a deliberate calculation to accept sacrifice
and suffering for the sake of following Christ. I urge you, if you
haven't done so already, to make a conscious decision today to
become a servant rather than to be served. This is the message Becky and
I will be spreading everywhere we go in Ethiopia. May all who hear it
run to it and embrace it!
AM Jon Glass is preaching through the entire Bible in
5 weeks. You heard me right. 5 weeks! You can listen to his first
Quotable quote: "If
you can believe Genesis 1:1, you can believe the rest."
AM Top 10 Things I Love About Ethiopia:
10) The smell of
9) The near-perfect
climate ("13 months of sunshine")
8) The word "Ishee"
7) The amazing
6) The fantastic
food (especially doro wat)
5) The stares I get
4) The coffee drink
steadfastness of the church under severe persecution
2) The many friends
and family we have there
And the # 1 thing I
love about Ethiopia:
1) The Ethiopian
girl I married!
AM Good morning, bloggerites!
It's up! The
prayer itinerary for our trip, that
is. Makes me tired just reading it. It all starts with Becky's flights
today. I have never been more excited to go to Ethiopia than I am now
(except, of course, for the last trip I made there, or the one before
that, or the one before that one -- LOL!). As you read it and pray for
us, please remember that authentic Christianity is not only for foreign
missionaries or something that happens only on faraway fields or in the
pages of the Bible. It can blossom forth on the street where you live.
It is for every believer, wherever we live and whatever we do for a
I sense that during
this trip Becky and I will have to overcome many unseen spiritual
forces. If our trip is not built on prayer, if we do not move out in
complete reliance on the Lord, all will be in vain. THANK YOU for
your faithful prayers on our behalf.
Off to do my farm
PM Not much of interest here. Tomorrow we leave the
farm at 12:45 pm to get Becky to RDU for her 5:15 UAL flight to Dulles
and thence to Addis on EAL. She has us all packed and organized, though
complete preparedness is always an illusion when traveling abroad. Time
rushes past as if it were trying to win the Kentucky Derby, and it will
be no time at all and we will be back home again after our Ethiopian
adventure. This trip will be a whirlwind from Addis down to Burji then
to Alaba then back to Addis. (We are very sorry to have to forego a
visit to the churches in Gondar in the north.) I am leaving on Thursday
in order to capitalize on some frequent flyer miles I've got with
Lufthansa, and Bec and I will meet up in the capital. On Saturday we'll
scramble down to Burji and revisit the churches there, and then will do
the same thing in Alaba. I'm taking with me on my flights a few chapters
from my book on Paul, hoping to pare them down a bit. I find the desire
for lucidity grows in me -- not mere simplification, but clean
dissection and clear exposition of as much of the complexity of things
as I can dig into. Tomorrow I will post (Lord willing) a daily prayer
itinerary in case you'd like to "go with us" to Ethiopia. I do hope
you'll come along. As I go my prayer is simply, "Lord, break my heart
with the things that break your heart. Help me to see the world as you
do and to live each day with eternity in view."
PM Nick Norelli's church has a
new website. Congratulations, brother Nick! I really appreciated
We are not nationalists seeking to
simply improve one nation but instead ambassadors of the King of
Kings commissioned to proclaim and demonstrate the coming of His
kingdom to all nations of the earth.
PM In case you didn't know where Utopia was
PM This photo shows a prayer meeting in Gondar,
Ethiopia, in the Messerete Christos (Mennonite) church.
They had gathered
to pray specifically for Becky. Is it because of their prayers that
Becky is able to return to her home away from home this week? Or perhaps
because of your prayers? I do know that many hundreds if not
thousands of saints have been interceding on her behalf since she was
diagnosed with cancer. Personally, I want to say a big "Thank You" to
everyone who invested even a minute of their time praying for my
precious wife. So far her white count has remained steady, so barring
another broken toe (!) she will be boarding her flight for DC this
Wednesday afternoon and arriving in Addis Thursday night. Lord willing,
I'll meet up with her a day later. A dream come true -- and an answer to
prayer. To God alone goes all the glory.
PM One of the tribes I hope against hope to be able
to revisit either now or in July are the warlike Gujis who live next to
the Burjis. Since my preaching tour in Gujiland a couple of years ago
I've developed an even greater appreciation for Jesus' Sermon on the
Mount and His teachings about peace-making, love of enemy, and kingdom
ethics. I say this as one who formerly sympathized with the religious
right and its false gospel of neoconservative ideology. (Phyllis Schafly
once said, "The atomic bomb is a marvelous gift that was given to our
country by God." At one time I would have found nothing objectionable in
her statement.) The Bible I read speaks of radical reconciliation.
My evangelical theology assures me that no tribal conflict is beyond the
reach of the redemption that is found in Christ Jesus. Please pray that
I will be able to revisit this precious tribe whom God loves and for
whom His Son died.
Below: Farmer to
farmer, I present a bag of seeds to the mayor of a town in Gujiland.
Later that day I preached unopposed in the village square, and then we
showed the Jesus Film that night.
PM For the life of me I can't remember the name of
the author of a new book on public education who was being interviewed
this week on NPR. Nor can I recall the title of her book. (Read:
Senility.) In the interview she was complaining about Bush's "No Child
Left Behind Act." (Yes, this is the same George W. Bush who once
famously said, "Rarely is the question asked: Is our children
learning?") She thought that the act merely exacerbated the crisis in
public education by compelling teachers to "teach to the test." I had to
smile when I heard that, since my Greek students know that I "teach to
the test" and that if they are going to pass my class they had better
"study to the test." I'm not sure that "teaching to the test" is all
that inimical to learning. Perhaps foreign language courses are an
exception to the rule? In my New Testament introduction classes I long
ago threw out exams (unless they were of an essay nature), and instead I
tend to require assignments that involve research and writing.
What do you think?
It is counterproductive to teach to the test?
PM How are your flowers doing? Ours have begun to
shoot up in glorious defiance of winter. Beautiful!
PM Today I wrote that
the corporate gathering of the church is not the fulfillment most
churchgoers believe it to be. It is just the beginning. The
gathering is merely the commissioning!
essay is called Back to Ethiopia and
I have just added it to our home page. You might take a moment to read
the whole thing, especially if you're suffering from a bad case of
AM Can you believe it? Only 25 years ago today the
first dotcom name was registered, according to
report, which notes:
An estimated 1.7
billion people - one quarter of the world's population - now use the
Who would have thunk it 25 years ago?
So what's the payoff? How are you
using the power of the internet for the kingdom?
AM What I have been up to today?
1) Reviewing my
Latin grammar. Yep, I do this all the time. Use it or lose it.
2) Exegeting 1
Thess 2:13-16 for class tomorrow. This passage, by the way, is widely
used to "prove" that Paul was an anti-Semite, if you can believe that.
Here's a very rough draft of my structural diagram of the passage.
3) Checking up on
Chloe's precious little puppies. Everyone seems healthy and happy. Don't
you love their coloring?
4) Walking the
pastures. See how green the Lord has made them? In only 2 months we'll
be cutting over 50 acres of this luscious hay.
5) Feeding the
cattle, including these Jersey bulls. The fellow you see in the
foreground will end up in our freezer this fall.
I never tire of the
variety of the work here on the farm and the balance it affords me
between intellectual stimulation and just plain hard physical labor.
I'll miss it when I leave for Ethiopia!
AM A huge shout out and thank you to those who
participated in our Ethiopia Celebration last night at Bethel Hill,
including the Creekside Quartet, who volunteered their time and effort
for the Cause of causes. Thank you, gentlemen. Loved your music!
I also want to
thank the young men of the church (and their older advisors) for helping
me put the grommets in an awning Becky and I are taking with us to
Ethiopia this week. We'll use it whenever we set up for outdoor teaching
to provide some shade for our students (especially the elderly). I loved
the eagerness with which the youth jumped on this project. Thank you
brother Joel for "releasing" them to me on the spur of the moment. I
couldn't have done it without their help!
Singing last night
was also our very own Bethel Hill Singers...
... as well as
Jamie Huff from Bethany Baptist. Jamie, a pharmacist, is a veteran
Ethiopia team member. He'll be returning to Burji this summer. Glad
you're going back with us, brother Jamie!
I especially want
to thank Miss Leigh for organizing last night's celebration. It was
truly a phenomenal time of praising the Lord of the Harvest!
AM Good Monday morning, blogging buds!
As some of you may
know, I'm taking a little break from my Godworld project to work
on a revision of my 1984 book Paul, Apostle of Weakness. (By the
way, it's getting less little by the day.) I've got only 2 chapters to
go out of 6, and I've set a personal goal of having the book to the
publisher by the end of summer. I believe that Paul discovered the
quintessential expression of biblical discipleship -- the cross. Every
fiber in my being desires to have that same perspective on life. I'm
coming to recognize the wisdom and beauty of the cross in God's plan for
my life and in the life of every believer. How we vote won't change the
world. How we "do" worship won't either. Our educational attainments
(and this includes Greek) are meaningless without the cross. The only
thing that will change the world is how we live. Are we willing to bleed
in order to manifest God's love to others? That is the fundamental
question I am raising in my book. If I'm correct, God delights in taking
weak but yielded nothings and transforming them into powerful
world-changing vehicles of His love. What a privilege! And what a
The fact is that
we're not getting the job done. Not only this, but the massive irony is
that at no other time in history has the church in North America been
better situated to take the Gospel to every nation on earth. Yet we
remain preoccupied with our own comfort and ease rather than with
serving the world sacrificially. Studying Paul's teaching on weakness
has reminded me that Christians can place their trust in only one thing
-- the cross. Because of this, I find myself passionate in my opposition
to the politicized Jesus of modern evangelicalism. (Have you noticed?)
I have about 90
students in my 3 classes this semester. My goal is to equip and energize
them to evangelize and mobilize their world for Christ. I'm looking for
revolutionaries who will commit themselves to praying for transformation
and then involving themselves to go wide with the Gospel personally. I'm
looking for Christian radicals who will filter every aspect of their
lives through the Gospel and who will do a gut check to see if they are
really willing to carry the cross. When you think about it, the
Christian life is not complicated. You just live every day with the
intentional goal to exponentially advance the kingdom of God. It's the
core purpose of this blog and of my life to successfully merge academics
and missions. I am striving for a maximum kingdom impact in my own life
and in the lives of my students. At the same time I want to be clear
that I haven't yet arrived. I still get caught up in distractions and
forget what truly matters. But I am a big believer in the principle that
if we take a few small steps in the right direction, God can build
momentum into our lives.
Please pray for me.
I want to learn how to wash other people's feet and to preach the
uncompromised truth of the Gospel with an attitude of undeniable love
Thanks a bunch,
AM One of our Haven of Rest CDs had this old hymn on
it. It blesses and challenges me every time I listen to it. Here are the
“On the cross of Calvary,
Bearing the shame and agony,
Jesus paid sin’s penalty,
That fallen man might be
But death and hell could not
hold Him prey; He rose
triumphant -- glorious day!
Soon He’s coming back again
In power and glory to reign.
“From the cross of Calvary
Shineth the Light of Life so
Sinner, “Look and live,”
saith He; Pardon is offered
Why will you perish? He took
your place -- Cancelled the
debt for Adam’s race.
Mercy’s door is still ajar;
Come to Him just as you
-- David Livingstone Ives
Did you notice
that oh-so-powerful line?
"Mercy's door is
It's still ajar,
friends! It's still ajar for the nations of the world. But one day it
That line haunts
me. And I doing everything I possibly can to see that the nations
believe and obey?
"Mercy's door is
AM In case you should have nothing better to do with
your time, mosey on over to Lionel Woods' site. There you'll find a
magnificently-written post about the
bankruptcy of politics. The accounts I read of the recent debates
over health care have a strange similarity to those Homer gives of Hades --
a place of acute despair. It certainly looks as though an age of tyranny
is before us, inasmuch as such large-scale social engineering must
inevitably impose tyranny. It produces problems too complex to solve
except by bureaucratic "planning," which always leads to more planning,
which always means more and more bureaucracy and tyranny. I see no hope
in politics whatsoever. The notion that we can "fix" the world through
political means is a lie that has fueled the worst kinds of demonic
arrogance. Jesus' way is different. It is the way of sacrificial love.
And it is the only way.
AM As a late winter storm, majestic in its fury,
passed over the farm, we gathered for supper last night at Bradford Hall.
The Blacks were
was Miss Rachael, a friend of ours from the seminary.
Nolan seems to be
enjoying life in our kitchen.
And here he is
eating. He has discovered that he can hold on to the spoon with his teeth.
And what a great
PM We have a guest for supper tonight. She brought a
delicious-looking chocolate cake too.
PM Team work. That's what farming is all about. I'd
hate to think of doing all the farm work by myself, or for Nate to do it
all by himself either. For example, we have fenced and cross-fenced all
123 acres of our farm, together. It would have taken a lot longer if
Nate had tried to do it by himself. In fact, I doubt that it could have
been done by one person. Plus, working together is just plain fun. A
good fun. A difficult fun. A fun-that-puts-you-to-bed-tired-but-happy
kind of fun. I enjoy it immensely. Nate works me to death, but it keeps
me in shape for all the walking we do in Ethiopia. I love it!
Below: I'm tossing
hay bales to Nate who stacks them in the trailer.
We distribute them
for our night feeding.
A few of the happy
recipients of all of our team work.
So, let's always
remember the importance of team work on a farm. It works in the church
PM This message is for Caleb. Caleb, here's a picture
of a really pretty feather I found while Uncle Nathan and I were working
down near the creek today.
I believe it once
belonged to a turkey. I know you're collecting feathers so I'll save it
for you. You can get it when you come to visit Mama B and me on Monday.
I hope you like it. I love you bunches. Papa B
PM How are yall doing on this absolutely gorgeous
Saturday afternoon? We've been as busy as beavers here on the farm.
Today Nate and I completed a project that had been waiting in the wings
for far too long. We took advantage of the break in the rain to finish
cross-fencing a 40-acre section of the farm. Now we have two 20-acre
sections! Here's Nate building the gate between these sections.
My job as gofer,
nail pounder, and, of course, photographer, was very taxing!
All that was left
was for us to run one stand of barbed wire along the top of the woven
wire fence, and --
Have you ever seen a purdier fence in all youse life? As I type, Nate is
moving the bulls into this pasture. No force or coaxing necessary. They
just follow him (as in John 10) -- usually!
has been getting us packed for our trip. Here are some stamps she
designed and printed for the Galana clinic.
This is just one
of several stamps that will make the operation of the clinic more
organized. "BKHC" stands for "Burji Kale Heywot Church," the association
of local evangelical churches we work with in this part of Ethiopia.
These SD cards
will carry the Bible teaching of J. Vernon McGee to the Burjis and the
Gujis in both Amharic and Orominya.
So the good work
goes on. How much fun!
AM In his essay
Convoluted Priorities, Jerry Rankin shows that the battle for the
Great Commission will be fought on the soil of each local church in the
SBC. If the Great Commission does not pose a radical challenge to the
status quo in our churches and in the way we are prioritizing our time,
resources, and energies, it will be our own fault. I am sure that, while
a retooling of our priorities calls for immense patience and love, it
does not allow any slacking of effort or prayer. It is not yet clear to
me how the renewed emphasis on global missions will be seen in the
perspective of history. Yet in my mind, nothing can remove from the
Gospel the absolute imperative of equality (2 Cor. 8:13). I am
positive that, as long as I have breath in my body, I must continue to
call the church in North America to repent of our waste and
AM Today Robyn Blumner sounds the patriotism alarm in
a fine essay called
Real Patriots Uphold Our Values and cites a delightful story from
the American Revolution along the way. A sampler:
Lawyers who represent
clients charged as our enemies contribute to making our legal system
an honorable one. That, along with providing fair trials, not
holding anyone indefinitely without charge, and treating prisoners
in a way we would want Americans to be treated by a foreign power,
makes up the ideals of our founders and nation.
True patriotism is love of country, not love of
government. Neo-patriotism is mindless worship of the state.
True patriots refuse to honor government above God.
Neo-patriots gladly deify government.
True patriots understand loyalty as adherence to the
ideals upon which the country was founded. Neo-patriots believe in blind
submission to the bureaucrats currently running it.
True patriots believe that eternal vigilance is
necessary to keep politicians under check. Neo-patriots are willing to
entrust their lives to politicians thinking this means loyalty to the
ideals spelled out in the Constitution.
Neo-patriots think that if you criticize U.S. foreign
policy or the country's obsession with security you are "unpatriotic."
True patriots believe that the exercise of critical judgment is absolutely
necessary to any civilization that is to stand or forge ahead, and that it
is both their right and duty to criticize their government.
In the final analysis, I concur with
President Theodore Roosevelt who said, "Patriotism means to stand by the
country. It does not mean to stand by the President or any other public
official save exactly to the degree in which he himself stands by the
AM In my book Paul, Apostle of Weakness, I
spend a good deal of time discussing Paul's infamous and puzzling "thorn
in the flesh."
We don't know what
it was exactly. Some say it was epilepsy. Others believe it had
something to do with his eyes. Still others think Paul was referring to
his enemies. Perhaps the most widely offered suggestion in Christian
history is that Paul suffered from chronic headaches. Today many
scholars believe that these headaches were caused by a particularly
violent type of malaria that was prevalent in Asia Minor. Sufferers
described their headaches as stakes turning round and round in their
heads. Thus it is quite possible that Paul's "thorn" (= stake!) was
malaria. He had, however, learned to accept it and to view it, not as a
burden, but as something through which the grace of God came to him.
Yesterday I was
asked if I am careful to take my anti-malaria medications when I travel
to Ethiopia. The answer, of course, is a very definite YES. But the
truth is that medicine is no absolute guarantee that one won't come down
with the disease. This will be my first trip back to Ethiopia since my
hospitalization with malaria last summer. I am not anxious about it. If
I should have a recurrence, so be it. It will be God's will, though
certainly not mine. This does not make me a hero. Christians in Ethiopia
suffer far worse. Yet frankly I am glad that I am now better able to
identify, as least partly, with the malaria sufferers I will encounter
in Ethiopia, especially in Alaba where malaria in endemic. Believe me,
their pain will not go unnoticed.
of the books I read this week was a biography of William Barclay.
Barclay believed that the Christian life has a three-tiered structure:
1) The Christian
life is shaped and directed by the love of God.
2) The Christian
life is a life of love.
3) The Christian
life is a life of sacrifice.
From his study of
the New Testament Barclay concluded that
The Christian was not only one
who made a profession of faith in Christ; he was one who did
things for Master.... Christ himself came not to be ministered unto
but to minister; like Christ, the Christian was a servant seeking to
minister to others in whatever way possible.
This is truly the
crux of the Christian life. Doctrine must be experienced, and love must
be at core of it all. We have been placed on this earth, not to get but
to give. This too is my belief, and I hope to make it my way.
theology is not to be minimized along the way, and I certainly don't
agree with many of Barclay's positions. Some say he was a universalist
-- a view that I find abhorrent!)
biographies you've read lately?
AM Over at the Poulos Blog, Alex reviews
Invitation to the Septuagint, one of the textbooks Bob Cole and I
are requiring in our LXX class this fall. I heartily agree with his
I don’t know of a
better introductory book, and it’s a fantastic way to acquaint
oneself with the amazing document that is the LXX.
PM Just read through Ruth in its entirety. What
marvelous word plays the book contains. Bethlehem (Place of Food)
experiences a famine! Mr. "No Name" shows up in 4:1! I go could on and
Above all, what a
message the book contains: God loves the poor and needy. And He richly
rewards people like Boaz who demonstrate steadfast love by helping them.
To all those who this very day are sacrificially loving others in the
name of Jesus -- may He reward you bountifully for your love!
P.S. I love 3:11,
where Boaz says to Ruth, "The whole town knows that you are a woman who
has strength of character."
Boaz was attracted
to a strong woman, and some of us have the privilege of being
married to one -- strength of character, strength of conviction,
strength of spirit and mind. Can there be a greater blessing?
PM The Blacks visited us this evening. I'm amazed at
how quickly Nolan is growing up. He's now got 8 teeth and more on the
I look at his dad
and I look at Nolan and I am reminded of that wonderful old saying, "The
child is father to the man." There's Nathan, who I remember when he was
Nolan's age as if it were yesterday. And then there's Nolan -- at the
very beginning of life, in full potential and not yet marred by the
passage of time or the assaults of disease and age. What a blessing.
What a blessing.
PM Here's a partial list of churches in Person
County, NC (pop.
And here's a list
of churches among the 611,000 people called the
Bishnoi of India:
I ask you: Where is
the greater need for our time, energy, and financial resources?
If we evangelicals
are going to reach the unreached peoples of this world, things are going
to have to change in our local churches. My advice? If God has indeed
called us to take up His cause, we should partner together with whatever
other like-minded churches there are in our area who are are willing to
catch this vision, call on believers to make radical sacrifices for it
to happen, and put together a huge volunteer force to get the job done.
Now the glory would
go to God instead of our local church or denomination.
Now the scales
would be balanced between the haves and the have-nots.
Now we could stop
asking missionary agencies to do what we should be doing.
Now we would be
supporting the work of the kingdom rather than spending most of our
wealth on ourselves.
And now God's
transnational kingdom would advance.
With more power
government acts more and more like an overbearing parent who treats
the American people like children who do not know what's good for
them. How else can the current irrational push to pass a terrible
health care reform bill in light of clear opposition from the
American people be explained?
Ah yes, we shall all live happily ever
after once we have socialized health care in the United States. Whadya
say? We already do?!!??
PM Looks like the adoption process in Ethiopia has
PM Just back from the UNC Ambulatory Care Center in
Chapel Hill. Guess who has a broken toe? Yep. Its her left pinky. The
doc's got her all fixed up, though, with a special shoe, just in time
for all the trekking she'll be doing in the mountains of Burji. Speaking
of Utopia, after our doctor's visit we lunched at the Queen of Sheba,
where we became reacquainted with our old friend Friesh who used to
operate the Blue Nile restaurant in Durham.
The food, the
ambience, the music -- all was wonderful, and we highly recommend you
pay it a visit the next time you're in Chapel Hill. For directions and a
menu go here.
Thank you, Friesh,
for a wonderful dining experience. We felt right "at home."
AM Alan Knox has been
posting his thoughts about the
church meeting, carefully examining the key texts from the book of Acts.
And a fine series it is too. His descriptions are often glowing, as well
they should be. Passages such as Acts 2:41-47 are not unrealistic
ideals, lovely to contemplate but impossible to realize. They describe
normal Body health. If our churches do not enjoy the same measure of
health, the problem is not in the book of Acts. I have a sneaking
suspicion that it will take a major crisis in America for the church to
go from abnormal or subnormal to normal. "Nominal" Christianity is an
abomination and the sooner we are rid of it the better.
Something is terribly wrong when we invest
in such things as Praise & Worship Seminars
and Conferences and Workshops, and so forth.
Our fellowships don’t need professionals
who’ve been to seminars and the like. They
just need to release their Spirit-anointing
I agree, mostly. I
would prefer to begin the discussion in Eph. 5:15, where Paul describes
the difference between wise and foolish living. It is the height of
folly to think that worship is the purpose of the gathered church. It
most certainly is not (see Rom. 12:1-2).
AM Once Jesus was in a ship, but with Him were "other
little ships" (Mark 4:36).
Today the main
ship of the church is Lordship. Once we settle the issue of who's
the boss in our churches, all the other little ships will fall into
palace -- worship, fellowship, discipleship, and
stewardship. But the bottom line is this: God's work must be
done in God's way. We American Christians easily get the idea that
churches are like civic clubs or community organizations. They are not!
We often think that America is a Christian nation. It is not! (This is
especially hard for us to get right. Just try removing the American flag
from your church building and see what an uproar that would cause.)
Christians are members of a holy nation ruled in love by the Lord of the
universe. If we don't get this matter of Lordship right, we will
certainly fail the test of every other "ship" out there.
AM Good thoughts on
heresy by Eric Carpenter. He writes:
When it comes to
heresy, we Christians have a tendency to either use the "h-bomb" too
carelessly or not at all. Despite what may be good intentions (or
not), we on the one hand declare beliefs and practices to be
heretical which are not, or on the other hand we shy away from
calling anything heretical at all. Simply put, we either use the
word too much or too little.
He is right. To be
a Christian today we must have the heart of a child and the rind of a
rhinoceros. The danger is that along with standing for the truth we will
harden our hearts toward people. There are some teachings in the church
today that are not to be accepted but rather challenged and (hopefully)
corrected. In all of this, however, the serpent's wisdom must be
balanced by the innocent of the dove. God grant us balance.
in exactly one week Becky will be arriving at Bole Airport in Addis
Ababa, Ethiopia!!! I am SO excited for her. (I will arrive a day later
as this will save us some money.) You can take the little girl out of
Ethiopia, but you can never take Ethiopia out of the little girl.
PM Becky's watching on old Waltons episode tonight.
what I'm becoming in our family -- the old man." (Referring to John
Walton's dad affectionately known as "Grandpa").
"Yes, but you need the stomach to match."
assistant just pdf-ed me a copy of Jan Lambrecht's article "Paulus
vermag alles door de kracht van God; zwakheid en sterkte." Lambrecht is
one of my all-time favorite authors.
appeared in the Nederlands Theologisch Tijdschrift.
Lambrecht summarizes Paul's theology in the latter's own words:
Als ik swak ben, dan ben ik sterk.
words were ever spoken. God's means of making us strong is by making us
weaker and weaker until the divine power alone in seen in our lives.
break me down until Thy power alone is seen in me!
PMMy time on
campus today was a blast. I trust the Holy Spirit was at work too. I had
never been to the vet campus before so I helped myself to a little tour
before my talk. I felt right at home -- horse stables, chicken houses,
hay barns, etc. It is a really huge campus and an expanding one too. I
counted at least three new buildings going up on the south campus. At
the same time, the student body is fairly small -- only about 80
students in each class.
lecture today was given in a theater style classroom that reminded me of
the lecture halls in Basel. I'd say about 50-60 people were present,
including a couple of faculty members. The biggest challenge for me was
deciding on what to focus on. I chose to hone in on three areas:
there contradictions in the New Testament? (Apparently so, but each
"contradiction" I believe has a plausible explanation that does not
require us to surrender belief in the Bible's inspiration. My example
came from the temptation narratives in Matthew and Luke.)
the text of the New Testament corrupted in transmission? (Again, the
answer is a qualified yes, but through the art and science of New
Testament textual criticism we can reconstruct a text that approximates
the original. Of course, I'm not always sure whether the correct reading
is printed in the text of my Greek New Testament or in the apparatus,
but it's my humble opinion that we haven't lost a single word of the New
Testament despite the failures in its transmission. I used Matt. 5:22 as
an example of this.)
we apply insights from secular science to the study of the New Testament
documents? (Again, the answer is yes, and I tried to illustrate this by
giving a few examples from linguistics and psychology.)
brought along some books and a couple of essays from my website that I
thought vet students might be interested in. The most popular one by far
was My Horses, My
Teachers. My goal was to get behind the worldview wall that so many
university students throw up. Only God knows if I was successful. I will
gladly leave the results in His hands!
you for your emails, for your prayers, and above all for your love for
the lost. I can't wait to do it again!
Tube phenomenal? We've already had over 200 views of our
Greek DVD clip, and
just today we received two more orders, praise be to God!
very brief clip
I uploaded to You Tube this evening.
It shows a believer in Burji who has just
been fitted for reading glasses. Just think -- here's someone who has
not been able to read his Bible for years (and Amharic script is teeny
tiny), but because of a gift from his brothers and sisters in
America he can see the words again and they're not just one big blur. We haven't kept track of exactly how
many reading glasses we've distributed in Ethiopia, but it numbers in
the thousands. When I
look at this clip I think: Who was that individual in America whom the Lord led to
drive to Dollar Tree and spend time and effort and money to
purchase this pair of non-prescription reading glasses and then send it
on to us? We don't know who that person was, but God does. May He bless
him or her for it.
God is appointing you to help with the rabies treatment, please make
your checks payable to Bethel Hill Baptist Church, write "Operation
Ethiopia, rabies" in the memo section, and send them to Becky Lynn
Black, 2691 White House Rd., Nelson VA 24580. Thank you again!
bitten by a dog? I have. I was about 8, and the dog left deep teeth
marks. Sure glad it wasn't rabid. In Ethiopia, rabies is a huge problem.
A rabid dog bite is fatal. Unless....
get the whole story in Becky's latest essay posted on our home page.
It's called, simply, Rabies. Read it, then ask
the Lord Jesus what you might do to help.
28:19-20, Jesus tells us to go deep and wide. We go wide through
evangelism and deep through discipleship/edification. Both are
commanded, and both are necessary. Today, as you know, I'll be speaking
at North Carolina State University's School of Veterinary Medicine.
talking to a group of disciples who want their friends to become
disciples who will make other disciples who in turn will make more --
and the process goes on and on.
I am really
excited to be among a group of university students again. I spent 9
years studying at Biola University (earning 2 degrees) and 3 years
studying at the University of Basel. Before I left Hawaii for California
in 1971, I had taken courses at the University of Hawaii. God loves
university students! There are a smart bunch who demand significance in
their lives. University students are uniquely poised to merge business
and ministry for maximum kingdom impact. In Switzerland I once heard
Francis Schaeffer say that when you become a Christian you don't have to
put your brain in park or neutral. Thinking people can be followers of
those of you who are reading this blog right now, thanks for joining me
in my journey. I look forward to doing my best to represent the Lord of
lords today at NC State but I need your prayers. If you don't mind, send
me an email and let me know you're joining my "prayer team" today.
you God for giving me a zeal for the Gospel of your Son Jesus Christ!
Will you grant me your power and wisdom as I seek to make disciples for
your honor today?
I would like to
encourage you, whatever trials you might be going through, to accept
the reality of their difficulty, and choose to praise God at the
same time. No matter what you're going through, there is no greater
hope or joy I can offer you.
reading Henkel's Kraft in Schwachheit and am loving it. After
all, he mentions my Paul, Apostle of Weakness on the very first
page! I had to smile, though, when he quotes me as saying (p. 141, n.
103) "the continuous aspect of weakness in Paul's life ist [sic]
winner is Jason Kees, who correctly identified the book as Ruth.
My thanks to all who played!
night I re-read all four chapters of this superbly-crafted little book
in Greek. What
wonderful lessons it contains -- grammatically and spiritually!
There is simply no way
to know who a man really is based on listening to a couple of
prepared sermons and going through a couple of interviews. That is
why elders should be called from among the men of the church, not
hired in from outside of the local body based on extra-Biblical
and I'm tired but if I don't post this now I might forget tomorrow.
Here's a picture of what my office desk looked like this afternoon.
sorting through all the books and articles related to weakness that I
need to work through before I get down to writing the last chapter of my
revised Paul, Apostle of Weakness. I actually counted them too.
Thus far Andy Bowden has collected 18 books and 48 journal articles for
me to read. Tomorrow evening I plan
to go through two of them with a fine toothed comb: Die Starken und
die Schwachen in Korinth und Rom by Volker Gäckle, and Kraft in
Schwachheit by Ulrich Heckel. The first book has 636 pages, while
the second has a mere 390. Excited to see what God is going to teach me
through reading these works.
PMMan, I am
so blessed to be able to teach the LXX course with brother Robert Cole
this fall. We will be meeting on Wednesdays from 12:30 to 3:20. Hope to
see many of you there. Today we decided on the book we will be exegeting
in depth from both the Hebrew and Greek texts. It's short, sweet, and
one of the best examples of rhetorical artistry in the entire Hebrew
Bible. What book am I talking about? Here's a picture of the Greek text.
guess? The first person to write me with the correct answer gets a free
Christian Archy. (I love contests!)
have been asking for this course for a long time. God has truly blessed
their prayers. Now my prayer is that the Holy Spirit will use it in all
of our lives to make us better interpreters and doers of God's Holy
PMI got the
most wonderful message on my office answering machine today while was I
in class. Becky called to say that Chloe had just given birth to 5
puppies and that she (Becky) had been called in to "baby-sit" the pups
while Nate and Jess ran a couple of errands. Which meant that I couldn't
wait to get home to snap a couple of pix for posterity. Here's one of
them for your evening entertainment. I don't think I've ever seen
sweeter puppies. Congratulations to the proud mama.
Andy's question: The reason we don't
admit our sins and faults to one another is because a spirit of deep
sleep has lulled us into the stupor of a fool's paradise. We therefore
treat symptoms rather than the disease. But to treat cancer with
temporary palliatives without getting at the cancer is to endanger the
victim still more.
pastors? Pastors do not acknowledge their weaknesses and faults because
they are afraid of losing either their status or their jobs.
is, God uses broken things. He uses broken sod to produce grain, broken
grain to produce bread, and broken bread to feed our bodies. King Saul
in the Old Testament was never broken and he killed himself. Pharisee
Saul in the New Testament was broken and became Paul.
Tent making is actually something
that we see lots of in the New Testament. Disciples who were
fishermen, tax collectors, tent makers, physicians, doing the work
of the kingdom, out there preaching, teaching, caring for people.
Pastors with skills that can be used in the so-called secular world.
Yep that’s me.
The most dangerous tool in Satan's arsenal is distraction. He loves to
distract us with things that don't matter. It won't matter in the end of
time whether or not we had fancy buildings in which to worship God. It
won't matter in the Day of Judgment whether we had impressive programs
in our churches. It won't matter one bit when Jesus returns whether or
nor we voted for the "right" politicians. The only thing that matters is
that we live as good citizens of heaven in a manner that is worthy of
the Gospel. This is Paul's word to us in Phil. 1:27. Listen friends,
when Paul says "The only thing that matters" he means "The ONLY thing
that matters." We ought to ask God to test our hearts to see whether
living radically for the Gospel is truly the only thing that matters to
us. We need to be cultivating relationships with non-believers in our
communities and around the world with a view to introducing them to the
most radical, revolutionary Person the world has ever known. Paul
perfectly illustrates the point: Here was a man who was totally consumed
with the Gospel to the point of giving his life for it. Here was a man
who sacrificed all the comforts of his good life in Tarsus to experience
suffering because he loved other people more than he loved himself. Here
is Paul in his own words:
Since you admire the egomaniacs of the pulpit so much
(remember, this is your old friend, the fool, talking), let me try
my hand at it. Do they brag of being Hebrews, Israelites, the pure
race of Abraham? I'm their match. Are they servants of Christ? I can
go them one better. (I can't believe I'm saying these things. It's
crazy to talk this way! But I started, and I'm going to finish.)
I've worked much harder, been jailed more often, beaten up more
times than I can count, and at death's door time after time. I've
been flogged five times with the Jews' thirty-nine lashes, beaten by
Roman rods three times, pummeled with rocks once. I've been
shipwrecked three times, and immersed in the open sea for a night
and a day. In hard traveling year in and year out, I've had to ford
rivers, fend off robbers, struggle with friends, struggle with foes.
I've been at risk in the city, at risk in the country, endangered by
desert sun and sea storm, and betrayed by those I thought were my
brothers. I've known drudgery and hard labor, many a long and lonely
night without sleep, many a missed meal, blasted by the cold, naked
to the weather.
Wow! Anyone you know ever suffered like that for
the Gospel? Listen friends, our
world today has 6.4 billion individuals living in 234
geo-political nations with over 16,000 people groups. Of those people
groups, more than 6,900 remain least-reached. This simply means they are
a people group lacking an indigenous community of believing Christians
with adequate numbers and resources to evangelize their own people. This
means that 1 in 4 people groups remain without access to the gospel.
partial listing of them.
Our Lord Jesus was careful time and again to stress the
cost of all-out devotion to Him. Our church rolls are loaded with people
who claim to be following Jesus but who have no idea of His priorities
for the church. What many churches need is a big farewell party in which
we tell this age goodbye. We sing "Content to let the world go by" while
wearing ourselves out trying to keep up with it! Well, I have said my
goodbye to cheap Christianity. I have said my goodbye to raising up vast
edifices of wood, hay, and stubble. I have said my goodbye to a little
religion. I have said goodbye to the cheap satisfactions of this world.
I am fed up with the husks of swine. The water of Life, the meat of the
Word, the manna of Heaven – there is a King's table waiting for the
believer, and the supply is inexhaustible. True missionary activity
should be the outflow of who we are in Christ. It is one thing to pay
God a tip on Sunday morning. It is another thing to submit to His plan
and program in uncompromising, unquestioning obedience every day of our
lives. John Piper
puts it well:
We do not believe Jesus when he says
there is more blessedness, more joy, more full and lasting pleasure
in a life devoted to helping others than there is in a life devoted
to our material comfort. And therefore the very longing for
contentment which (according to Jesus) ought to drive us to
simplicity of life and labors of love contents itself instead with
the broken cisterns of American prosperity and comfort.
What a time
for the church in North America to be drunk with her own amusements and
comfort and success when she should be awake and alert to the Lord's
commission! His business is our business as Christians. We have no
other. There is only one way to handle the problem scripturally and that
is to surrender our unsurrendered selves, repent of our ingrownness and
self-centeredness, and then get back to being about the Father's
challenge you to love Jesus more than anything or anyone else. I
challenge you to accomplish great things for the kingdom
sacrificially. I challenge you to love the lost more than you love
your comfort. There are a good many causes you can get caught up in, but
there is only one cause that is worth living and dying for. Rather than
blindly going along with the culture and even with the church subculture
that is focused on itself, I challenge you to go wide with the Gospel
among your friends and to the uttermost parts of the earth.
for the Cause of all causes!
AM Are you ready for the answers to yesterday's
contest questions? Here they are:
1) Diamond Head
2) Arizona Memorial
3) Royal Hawaiian
4) Pali Lookout
5) Aloha Tower
6) Kailua (home
The first blogger
to get all 6 answers correct is none other than:
Thomas, along with
wife Kaitlin, blog here. Thomas just
happens to be a SEBTS student (whom I've never met) who lived in Kailua
for a time. Congratulations Thomas. Please send me an email today with your choice of book. And thanks to all who played along!
PM Spread manure again, showered (third one today),
cooked supper (Chinese, with my secret ingredient of course), and am now
prepping for tomorrow. Today I wore shorts and a t-shirt for the first
time in 5 months.
PM Today Becky's chariot got a hand wash. Looks brand
spanking new, don't it? And ya gotta love that license plate. By the
grace of God, we can truly say, "It is well."
PM Yesterday my Sunday School teacher asked me how to
pronounce "Ephrathah." I told him I had no idea. The Semitic word is
pronounced one way, its Greek equivalent another way, and the English (I suppose) still another. I
have found such place names especially challenging when traveling to
Europe. In Italy, Florence is Firenzo, Naples is Napoli, Padua is Padova,
Venice is Venezia, and Milan is Milano. To the Danes Copenhagen is
pronounced something like "koopen-howen," and in Switzerland the name of
my doctoral city is spelled four different ways (Basle, Basel, Basileia,
Bâl). And have you noticed that in Germany the city of Cologne is really
Köln and Munich is München? Names = headaches! In a few days I'll
be flying United Airlines to Frankfurt (or is it Frankfort?), but did
you know that in 1987 the name of the company was changed to "Allegis"
by the company's CEO Richard Ferris? Donald Trump said the name sounded
like a disease, and upon Ferris's ouster his successor changed the
company name back to United.
I didn't go into
all of this when my teacher asked me that question. But I thought about
PM The churches in the past have left the impression
that the Lord Jesus entrusted His ministry to certain ordained clergy.
Even in New Testament days converts from Judaism had a difficult time
understanding the transition to the New Covenant, as both the book of
Acts and the epistle to the Hebrews indicate. These converts could
hardly imagine a church with no fixed forms, organizational structures,
or definite ranking of fulltime servants. They needed to learn that the
ministry of the New Covenant is a priesthood of all believers.
Those of us who are
studying 1 Thessalonians in Greek class this week must come to grips
with this fact. The ministry of evangelism that Paul describes in
chapters 1-2 is the ministry of all believers. What is more
significant is that the church leaders who are mentioned briefly and in
passing in 5:12-13 are not described as office-holders but simply as
people who perform certain functions in the church. But the basic
nurture of the church must be carried out by all (see 5:14). In his
Where are the Equippers? Jack Watkins comes to the same conclusion,
namely, that the pyramid style of leadership so common today simply did
not exist in the New Testament. Let me suggest you read the entire essay
if you haven't. Then reflect on Hebrews 8 and Jeremiah 31. Perhaps a
deepened picture of the New Covenant will help you to join me hoping for
a day when the church will be restored to its biblical pattern of
AM Frank Emanuel has an excellent though brief
(brevity is powerful!) post about the unhealthy expectations people
often put on their pastors. It's called
What is a pastor? Frank wishes he had the courage to stand up to
abusive people. That may sound trite -- but it is far from easy. Unless
we are very careful, we can find ourselves doing the right things for
the wrong motives (the acceptance of others, for example). That said, I
have nothing but the greatest sympathy for pastors who feel dumped on by
Point in passing:
Is being the pastor of your church causing you to become
(unintentionally perhaps) the lightening rod for your congregation's
displeasure? Is there another way, a better way, a way to avoid being
put on a pedestal?
AM Just back from spreading manure. It's a perfect
day for working outdoors. That includes writing!
AM If you've ever been to Ethiopia you'll know
exactly what this is. My mouth waters just looking at it. Forget
Starbucks. The best machiattos in the world are to be found in Addis
Ababa. And they're cheap too: Only 2 birr (20 cents).
AM Quote of the day (Corrie ten Boom):
Hold everything in
your hands lightly, otherwise it hurts when God pries your fingers
Adm. Mike Mullen,
chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, came home with sweaty palms
from his mid-February visit to Israel. He has been worrying aloud
that Israel will mousetrap the U.S. into war with Iran.
Read the entire essay if you want to know
why Mullen is so worried.
AM The Genitive Debate continues with this piece over
at the Better Bibles Blog:
Genitives and the semantics of love and faith. This has to do with
an age-old debate of which many of you will already have had a stomach
full. The gravamen is contained in the peroration, which you won't want
to miss. The prose is somewhat dense, but this seems to be true of the
more recent posts at BBB. I think we can all agree, though, that the
debate is far from being over.
AM Hey there fellow bloggers! Once again, it's ...
How would you like
to win one of the following books?
Greek to Me
Here's how to play.
As everyone knows,
I was born and raised on the island of Oahu in Hawaii. Below are 6
pictures of fairly well-known places on this island. Your job is to
correctly name as many of them as you can. Send your answers to me by
email. The deadline for contributions is 9:00 pm Eastern Time tonight.
I will announce the winner first thing tomorrow morning. The person with
the most correct answers wins. In case of a tie, the contestant with the
earliest contribution will be named the winner.
contest is for bloggers only. And there's a small catch: If you win, you
must agree to post a brief review of the book on your blog.
Sound like fun?
Well then, have at it! Here are the pictures.
AM Not much news here. I plan to be very busy this
week. My courses entail a lot of work in preparation, and I have a good
deal of gibbering on the side with students, which I always enjoy.
Meanwhile, I'm continuing my own private study of ecclesiology and
missiology (Romans and 1 Corinthians especially). It has taken me the
greater part of a lifetime to begin to discover the immemorially obvious
and to try, at least, to flesh out the discovery in my own life. It has
been an excruciatingly educational ordeal for me, and I often feel like
a small child wading on the vast shore of a limitless ocean.
Still, I manage to
get a good deal of writing done, along with a certain amount of reading.
How wholeheartedly I agree with those philosophers who express contempt for
authors who write more than they read. Of course, I don't often have
time to do both. I manage to read 15-20 books each week plus a handful
of important journal articles, not to mention the more interesting
blogs. I find that 2-3 hours of writing daily is my extreme limit. I
have gotten several German books on weakness that I have not read yet
but plan to do so this week. I sometimes feel guilty in reading books (with
quickly. I can plough my way through them in a mere
fraction of the time the authors must have spent in writing them. But
then again I have an excessive affection for succinctness. The really
prodigious authors make the time and have the capacity for working long
and hard that I can only envy. I don't agree, for example, with
everything Tom Wright says, but I don't think I've ever read things
that made me so profoundly admire and respect the writer. Clearly a
giant intellect is at work which plays justly over a wide range of
ideas. You should read him if you haven't already. He's a great
popularizer too, which is something I have tried to become in my most
But all that is for
later. I have the sneaking suspicion that the farm manager will soon be
along and make demands on my physical prowess, such as it is.
PM Can you believe it? Only 10 days to go before we
leave for Ethiopia, if the Lord is willing. This verse impresses me as I
contemplate returning to Africa: "We, though many, are one body in
Christ" (Rom. 12:5). What a wonderful privilege it is as Christians to
share a relationship with every other Christian in the world, regardless
of color, race, age, or denomination. Becky and I are bound to the
church in Ethiopia in a fellowship that goes far beyond the mere sharing
of a hobby or a political affiliation. The reality of our fellowship
also places inescapable demands on us. We are the church together
and therefore we must bear each other's burdens in a sympathetic way.
Funny, we've been going to Ethiopia for 7 years now and yet I am still
as excited as if it were my very first trip. Thank you, Lord Jesus, for
making us "fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household
of God" (Eph. 2:9)!
PM Some powerful quotes from today's message on Acts
God takes evil
and turns it on its head.
pushes people out of their comfort zone.
they were persecuted didn't mean they stopped preaching the word.
only furthered the kingdom work, it did not hinder it.
lived lives that were centered in Christ. That's what they were
is ever great enough for you to turn away from the Gospel.
As a church,
the Great Commission should trump every decision we make.
Thank you, brother
Joel, for the reminder that God often does His best work when the church
is under pressure from its enemies.
AM I am still collecting works for my chapter on
weakness (using works published subsequent to 1984), which has involved
a lot of work for my assistant, Mr.
Andy Bowden. I am still a
bit uncertain how the thing will turn out but will doubtless discover
when I get down to the actual writing. I hope to have the complete
manuscript by the end of summer. If, in the meantime, you know of
anything on astheneia that I should see, I hope you will notify
me of its whereabouts. I'd be happy to add it to my ever-growing stack
of books and journal articles. Je réjouis de la pensée que vous
deviendrez mon collaborateur.
AM So proud this morning of my doctoral students.
They've read papers at this weekend's SECOR conference and they are on
the program at this month's regional ETS meeting. It is very exciting to
see them developing their nascent professorial skills this early on in
their program. They have even begun publishing some of their seminar
papers, which will also be used in their dissertations. I have no
problem with this; in fact I encourage it. I had just arrived in Basel
in 1980 as a fledging doctoral student when I received the page proofs
of my first journal article. I can still feel the excitement today. One
has to start somewhere, and I see absolutely no reason why the starting
point should be post-Ph.D.
AM The other day I recommended Beasley-Murray's
Baptism in the New Testament to a fellow blogger, even though the
book is sorely out of date. His is one of those vintages that improves
with age. I could feel much more optimistic about the current generation
of young New Testament scholars if they paid more attention to the great
classics in the field. When you read Baptism in the New Testament
you will be able to judge for yourself if you think it's a good book
and, if good, who should be reading it today.
AM I read this verse this morning:
By now you ought to be teachers,
yet you still need someone to teach you again the elementary truths
of God's Word. You need milk, not meat (Heb. 5:12).
Talk about a case
of arrested development. Just when you should have become teachers, you
have to go back to the basics of the Gospel.
The blisters on my
hands this morning are a painful reminder to me of this truth. By now
you would think that I'd have thick callouses on my hands because of all
the manure spreading I do here on the farm. But let Nathan go to Dallas
for 10 days and my hands revert to their soft, city-slicker state. My
blisters point to a great principle of life:
When you do nothing, something always happens.
Just don't mow your
yard. Just don't put oil in your car. Just don't review your Greek
paradigms and principal parts. (You knew I had to get that last one in,
What to do?
Acknowledge your defeat, then get right back to throwing manure. Don't
wallow in self-pity. How many of us, instead of marching forward in our
Christian walk, are merely marking time? How many of us will attend
church this morning, not to give, not to serve, not to invest in others,
but to sit, soak, and sour? We may have been Christians for years but we
still can't instruct another or point someone to Jesus. We can
understand only the very basic doctrines. Because we are so immature, we
succumb easily to theological fads that arise with alarming regularly.
The author of
Hebrews is saying, Grow up. Get back on track. Put your knowledge to use
in the kingdom. Don't stay in an immature state.
Get back to tossing
PM Thanks to all who linked to my video clip from our
Greek DVD series. Just want to clarify a couple of things:
1) We chose the
PAL format because we
produced the set primarily for schools in the Majority World, where PAL
is the norm. What this means is that most of you who live in North
America will not be able to view the DVDs on your TV. But everyone will
be able to play them on their computer.
2) In keeping with
our emphasis on training foreign nationals, we offer a 50 percent
discount to educational institutions outside of North America. This
means that one can purchase the entire 24-DVD set for only $100.00 USD.
I'm so excited that we've already had several international schools
order the series.
3) As you can see
from the clip I posted, the approach I take to Greek grammar involves
morphology, which in one sense makes the learning process a little bit
more difficult at the beginning of your studies. It goes without saying
that this is certainly not the only correct method of teaching Greek. In
addition, not all linguists agree on how Greek morphology works, and
other teachers might wish to explain the grammar using other terms. The
bottom line is that there is no single "best" Greek grammar or "best"
Greek teacher. All have their proper uses and, in fact, my prayer is
that the Lord Jesus uses all of them to educate His church.
PM Just a line or two. I spent the evening mortifying
the flesh sitting on my front yard bench watching the pond below me
and a field of about 20 Angus in it, enjoying the deafening silence, and
being astounded again by the breathtaking beauty of the farm and God's
The mama cows were busy licking off their calves,
the bull was doing what bulls instinctively do, and the rest were lying around lazily
chewing their cud. The day was remarkable for its wonderful colors and
Speaking of things creative, I have been listening
to a CD of the really funereal piece by Marcel Dupré called Cortège et Litanie
performed (of all things!) on the great organ of Houston's Second
Baptist Church. How good a composer he was yet how poorly is his
masterpiece played, at least on You Tube. The best I could find was this
one, though it sounds more martial than funereal.
I don't suppose I
will ever be able to hear the piece performed live and in
person, as it must be extremely difficult to play.
PM OH NO! Look at what just mysteriously appeared in
Nathan, you keep
this up and you'll end up with an old man who looks like this!
PM Our phone service is back.
PM Guess who's about to have puppies? Our little Miss
Chloe. She's begun to waddle, and the fur on her underside had started
to fall out. The proud daddy is none other than our own Mr. Sheppie. The
pups will be beautiful, I'm sure.
PM Tommy Calnan is about to make his second escape.
His first one took place from a train window as he was being transported
across Germany. Now he is about to crawl through a filthy tunnel on his
way to freedom from a POW camp deep inside the Third Reich.
first escape he made alone. Not so his second one. He writes (pp. 196-87
of Free As a Running Fox):
After my train jump on the
journey from Spangenberg, I had reached an entirely final decision.
Never again would I escape alone. The lonely human, I had found,
cannot dominate his elemental fears. Although he can, consciously
and with an effort of the will, control those fears, he cannot
prevent the subconscious effect they have on his actions. During
those cold days spent in ditches or thin woods, my morale had been
so low as to be almost non-existent. I knew, with absolute
certainty, that the comforting presence of one companion would have
been the most effective antidote to this fear complex.
presence of one companion." How true. All of us were made for community
and companionship. The Lord Jesus sent the 70 out two by two. He did not
ask them to go it alone. Imagine the encouragement they could draw from
each other along the way or when they met with resistance and
It is a wise thing
to do the Lord's work in the companionship of others. The great apostle
Paul himself was not above working with others. His journeys were always
team efforts. What makes us think we can do any less?
Below: The Lord
Jesus still has His Peters, Jameses, and Pauls. I thank God for such
gifted people and the impact on others He has allowed them to make. Here
is our 2009 Alaba team, including (from the left) Kevin, his daughter
Katy, and Dale.
It's hard for me to
imagine a more diverse team, yet God knitted us together and we worked
together beautifully. This summer our Alaba team will be much smaller
(only 2 others in addition to myself), each of us being merely a fellow
foot soldier in the great work God has called us to do -- together.
AM Just had a delightful brunch with the Blacks.
Becky cooked up a delicious omelet that was filled with little
surprises, including avocados. Two quick notes before Nate and I get to
1) Our local
telephone service is on the fritz. We are told it won't be repaired
until next Wednesday. So if you need to contact us please do so via
email (which we access through our satellite provider).
2) On my home page
I've just published my latest essay. It's called
The Supreme Importance of the
Great Commission. I'm not sure Satan will like it very much. He'll
patronize us into complacency by suggesting all kinds of excuses why we
shouldn't make world evangelization our top priority. With our loins
girded with truth (sorry for the archaic biblicism, but I love that
expression!) we must stand and fight by taking the truth of God's Word
and His scandalous love and hurling them back at the Tempter. Please do
not misunderstand me. I am not saying that I am living for the Gospel as
I ought to. I am as convicted by this essay as I anticipate anyone else
will be. But I will tell you this: As tough as evangelism is, it's worth
it all when you see someone fall in love with Jesus! God's message is to
flesh out the Good News. May our churches be radically committed to
doing that in the days and years ahead until the Lord returns.
PM Look at what Becky baked for me tonight. It was a
surprise. My favorite too -- Poppy Seed Cake.
We each enjoyed a
piece while watching the Waltons. Not a bad way to top off a great day,
PM Here's 2 more pix of the sweetest and neatest and
bestest and most beauteous little 9 month old in the whole wide world:
On a side note, in
the truck today Nate played for me a CD Nolan listens to. It has songs
in three languages: English, French, and Spanish. That rascal. Nolan
already knows more languages than his mommy and daddy!
PM If TV can have re-runs, so can we! Yesterday I
posted a couple of You Tube videos taken during out trips to Ethiopia. Each has an
interesting story behind it, which we couldn't tell you about last night
because we were too busy. I asked Becky if she would be willing to
describe these clips for you today, and she graciously agreed. So here's
Clip #1: Solomon
This scene took
place in November, 2008. I was at the back of the clinic, heard the
praying, and snuck in the back door to video tape the session of
praying. Pleading over a young woman of about 20 years of age was
Chaplain Solomon. One hand was raised to the Throne of Heaven, and one
hand lay upon the unconscious woman. On the floor, bowed over with heads
touching the concrete, were the father and mother of the woman. I knew
her story. The day before this praying session she had been brought to
the clinic. Her fever was through the roof, her oxygenation was only 67
percent, and she was in constant seizure. Her parents told us what had
happened. This woman and her parents had professed allegiance to Jesus
as their Lord and Savior. The woman's brother, however, did not. A
village witchdoctor had cast a spell upon the brother, stating, "You
will die if your sister does not leave Jesus." The brother plead with
his sister; he was very frightened of death. She renounced Jesus as the
Son of God and Savior of the World. Immediately, she herself was at the
edge of death, stricken with this illness. In the clinic, our
nurses started an IV, gave fluids, gave antibiotics, gave anti-seizure
medicines, gave fever medicine....but the real thing needed was a return
to Jesus. Only He could heal her. And this could happen only through
prayer. Almost around the clock the nurses, the chaplain, the church
elders, and our team members prayed. On the 2nd day, she came to her
senses and returned to Jesus. On the 3rd day, she was discharged from
the clinic. On the 4th day, the nurses and Chaplain Solomon visited her
in her home....she was busy waiting on them, preparing coffee and kolo.
Such is a day in
the life of a rural clinic in southern Ethiopia.
Clip #2: Burji
This scene is from
our trip in June, 2007. Dave and I were taking our first group to
Ethiopia; it consisted of 9 people from Bethel Hill Baptist Church near
Roxboro, NC. Our team was divided into two parts: the Soyama Town part
and the Village Team part. I was with the Village Team. We traveled from
village to village, spending 2-3 days in each village, sleeping on the
floor of the churches, eating food prepared by the church women, and
doing various ministry sessions on the church compound. One of us taught
the Bible to women, one taught men, a couple worked with the children;
we distributed reading glasses and held informal medical clinics. We
listened to Bible recitations and distributed Bibles. In every village
we visited, the people would walk out to meet us. They greeted us with
singing, waving branches, and flowers; everyone was dressed in their
colorful Sunday best. Our truck would carry us as far as it could go,
then we got out and walked. The Ethiopians eagerly carried our luggage,
water bottles, and blankets. And so we began the long walk into their
village, singing along with them, rejoicing in the goodness of the Lord
that He had brought us together!
In this video clip,
we are hiking to the village of Shargo. It is the last village of the
trip. We were tired as we hiked along the ridge of mountains, jumping
streams of water, trying not to walk too fast so that we wouldn't get
winded in the high altitude. The church is situated on a little
peninsular jutting out of the mountain; the drop-off is steep. A very
thin trail can be seen going down the mountain, and the Ethiopians told
me that many times people and animals fall to their deaths as they slip
on the trail. Shortly after we arrived, it began to rain. For 15 hours
it rained constantly. We had our meetings in the drizzle, under
umbrellas. Then we began the slippery hike back to the truck. Two
Ethiopia men walked beside each of us women to keep us upright.
Returning, we didn't have to worry about walking too fast! We looked
like drowned rats by the time we made it to the vehicle. Then we began
the long descendent, our 4WD vehicle slipping and sliding every which
way, sometime going up so sharply we couldn't see the top, sometimes
having to stop and regroup before continuing on. It was one of
those times when I was keenly aware of the danger facing us, yet also
keenly aware that people were praying at home. Many of us broke down
crying upon our return, so great was the stress of the trip. The
goodness of the Lord Jesus in keeping us was keenly felt by every
person. Would I do it again? Absolutely!
we returned to Virginia, I told my parents about this little trip, and
my mother told me that when they were in Ethiopia, their Land Rover slid
off the road in these same Burji Mountains, such that two of the 4
wheels were hanging in the air. My father told my mother to very slowly
and carefully get out of the car; my mother was pregnant with her 6th
child, my brother was about 18 months, and my sister was about 3 and a
half years. My mother stood with her children on the road, knowing that
at any second my father and the vehicle could go over the mountain's
edge. My sister asked her, "Mommy, what are we doing?" My mother
replied, "We're praying, honey. We're praying."
So when we post our
prayer itinerary for our trips, we are saying to you: PRAY! We need your
prayers...and you may never know the difference your particular,
personal prayer made.
PM Did you hear us whooping and hollering as Nate and
Jessie came up the driveway this morning? I just had to capture the
moment on camera. See how totally pathetic I am! What a wonderful
homecoming it was. Mama B and I couldn't wait to wrap our arms around
that little Nolan. (Course his mom and dad got a hug too.)
I tell you, that
boy has grown a foot since we last saw him. And he scoots and boots like
a snake-bitten Texan once you put him on the floor. More on Nolan later.
Nate and I got down to work, beginning in Oxford where these trailers
were patiently awaiting our arrival. You counted right -- 4 of them!
Each is a very
heavy load, but nothing to fear -- not if you have your trusty air pump
goes in Oxford and its environs he is known (affectionately?) as Mr.
Poop. To help the young ladies dump their manure into the trailers he
built this little platform. It reads: "This step compliments of Mr.
Poop, Mrs. Poop, and Little Pooper." I guess this makes me Grandpa Poop?
Below: How true,
Oh, I thought you'd like to see a pic of
our newest bull calf, born three days ago. Cute, cute, cute!
Then it was time for us to spread the
manure and feed all the cows.
Finally, I want to introduce you to 3 of
our "teenage" cows, acting just like adolescents -- aloof, cliquish, and
uncommunicative. Guess they never read
Soweit die heutige Nachricht. Tonight I'm taking my bride out for Chinese dinner in Clarkesville --
"our fair city." Can't wait!
AM Today Nate, Jess, and Nolie return from a trip to
Dallas to visit with Mama B and Granddaddy. You know what that means,
don't you? Yep -- we've fallen way behind in the skubalation department,
and I won't be surprised if Nate and I have to unload not one but two
trailers of manure today. What fun!
By the way, the
happy family has been sending us pix along the way. Here's one I thought
AM The intro to
over at APB News reads:
Blogs are a growing but still
relatively underutilized influence on today's religious discourse,
according to a study of the religious blogosphere by the
But my favorite quote from this fine piece
Some, like religion reporters and
academicians, were not originally interested in blogging but were
forced to give in and eventually learned to enjoy it.
And all you yet-to-be bloggers said?
AM I usually don't link to stories about Baylor
University but I think it's worth your time to note this one: Baylor
alum to give school $200 million. The anonymous donor wants the
money to be spent on the study of aging. All well and good, but there's
a catch: the money won't become available until the donor's death. No
information on how old he or she is....
AM I loved Cathleen Shine's
New York Times piece
I Was a Teenage Illiterate. She cites her "illiteracy epiphany,"
which I suppose happened to me at about the same age. I was a terrible
student in school and cared nothing for books and book-learning. At home
I read a few Hardy Boys novels, but my love for history and theology
would develop only much later. Sad to say, I feel I wasted many years as
a teenage illiterate. But I think I've made up for it since then.
AM Hey bloggers and bloggerettes. The following is a 4-minute clip from our Greek
DVD series, which is available
here. If nothing else, it'll give you a flavor of what to expect if you
use the set.
The series was taped while I was teaching beginning Greek at a college
in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. It was fun teaching these Ethiopians the
basics of the language and watching the light come on. Personally, I so
enjoy discovering the beauty of languages, including Greek. I think
you'll pick that up when you watch the video.
PM Well, Richard Sugg has done it again. Yes, this is
the same Richard who installed our new home computer for us. It is also
the same Richard Sugg who was inspired to produce the vocabulary cards
for our beginning grammar (which are available
Richard spent 4 hours with us this evening helping us learn how to
maximize the use of our pooter (including how to post video clips). His
God-given cybernetic abilities are simply amazing. Thank you, Richard,
for putting them to work in service to our wonderful Savior. May He
richly bless you for it. Now, I know many of you are thinking,
"Oh no, now I have to put up with countless video clips in addition to
all the photos Dave posts!" Not to be afraid, though. I promise not to
post any more than 20 clips per day, not even of Mr. Nolan.
By the way, each of
the clips posted below has a story behind it. More on that tomorrow.
Right now my brain is totally frazzled.
PM Sample #2:
PM We're working on the website tonight, trying to
upload a You Tube. Here's a sample. Hope it works.
Ellis was a wonderful
Baptist scholar of the NT and a committed churchman.
What a marvelous testimony! I did not know
Earle Ellis personally but I wish I had.
PM Today Joel and I were discussing what makes for a
good commentary. I mentioned to him that one of the main reasons I'm
requiring my Greek students to purchase Gordon Fee's commentary on 1-2
Thessalonians is that he makes it very clear in his preface that he
wrote the initial draft of his commentary before consulting any other
works. Hence the book is really a compendium of Fee's own thinking,
which to me is what a good commentary should be. This is one reason I
was so glad to see Harold Hoehner's Ephesians commentary published after
so many years of labor he invested in that work. Harold had taught the
book of Ephesians for who knows how many years -- 30? His commentary
reflects a depth that only a seasoned New Testament scholar possesses.
So if you want to know what Harold believed and thought, it's all
there for you to see. I much prefer these types of commentaries to those
that are simply pastiches of other people's opinions.
snapped this picture of me and Harold Hoehner a couple of years ago at
Grace Bible Church in Dallas. He was a dear friend of mine and a model
for me in many ways. I still miss him (and that includes chatting with
him in Swiss German).
PM Even though I'm deep in my study of 1 Thess.
2:1-12 for next week's class, my mind keeps wandering disobediently back
to 1:8, where we read, "For from you the word of the Lord has echoed
forth ... so that we don't have to say anything." I am greatly
encouraged by this statement, and you should be too. This is the role of
the so-called laity in down-to-earth terms. The laity (not the clergy)
forms the spearhead of the church's mission in the world. Because they
are out in the work-a-day world, lay people are beachheads for the
kingdom in business, education, government, and other professions, doing
their jobs daily to the glory of God and as witnesses of His grace and
love. This is why an adequate ministry can never depend on one pastor or
even a corps of pastors. The whole church must be mobilized and
trained for ministry and mission. Lay people, and only lay people,
in their daily lives and occupations, encounter the society in which
they live as a pattern of life.
What we need now
are churches that show us how to flesh out this model of ministry. If
you know of such a congregation, would you please consider writing me
and letting me know? I'd like to feature that congregation on this blog.
PM Well, Becky and I thoroughly enjoyed a visit from
one of our pastors at Bethel Hill along with his dear wife and 2
precious children. Brother Joel needed to interview someone on the topic
of suffering for one of his seminary classes, and he (wisely!) chose
Becky Lynn for the interview.
I didn't listen in
on the interview but I bet it was awesome. Joel and Kimberly, know that
we love you guys very much. We are very excited about what the Lord God
is doing in your lives and what He will do in the days and years ahead.
Continue to run in such a way as to win the prize. And Joel, thank you
for constantly and consistently reminding the Body to think of ourselves
as disciples, ever learning and growing and encouraging one
another, and as disciplers, leading non-Christians into the
fellowship of believers.
AM I just snapped this picture while going out to
feed the cattle.
it? How do you like the avant-garde black frame I designed? Neat, huh?
shutter failed to open all the way. I had no idea, of course, that this
was happening while taking this picture. Which brings up a question: How
much of what I am now doing for Christ will be gold, silver, and
precious stones? And how much will be wood, hay, and stubble? I won't
know until the judgment seat of Christ, will I? Something I may think
(and, indeed, may have been quite positive about) was of eternal value
may in fact end up being completely burned up in that Day. And how about
my motives? I may do what is right, what is required of me as a steward,
but if I have done it with improper motives (we'll talk a lot about this
in our Greek class next week in our study of 1 Thessalonians), it too
will go up in smoke.
Well, so much for
my sermonette! I just want to add that I am grateful that spring is on
its way. But I'm not one who has been pleading with Mother Earth for the
return of warmer weather. I have no right to complain to the Creator
about the weather. This winter has been cold, but we have kept warm;
we've had plenty of snow, but no ice; and the Lord has "deep watered"
our pastures in anticipation of a good hay crop (our largest source of
income on the farm).
That said, I am
not going to complain that the temps will be in the 60s this weekend!
AM Our July team is now set. Prior to our departure
this summer Becky will publish a detailed prayer itinerary for you to
follow. In the meantime we invite you to "join our team" with your
prayers. Here's a list of
current needs that B has put together. Feel free to copy and
distribute it as the Lord leads.
I’m one of those who
believe America is destined to remain as it has been since the birth
of the republic—the brightest hope in the world. And for that
belief, I do not apologize.”
thinking biblically, how can we possibly say that the United States is
"the brightest hope in the world"? I don't mean to pick on Mitt Romney.
Many American Christians have sadly allowed their patriotism to co-opt
their faith. Many of us want a Jesus who will defend our country -- the
"city on a hill" -- and hate our national enemies as much as we do.
America has become a god and patriotism its goddess.
anything like this. Neither is His power. Knowing that all power had
been given to Him, He tells His disciples that the way to vanquish their
foes is by loving their enemies with cross-like love. In Christ my real
citizenship is in heaven. I am nothing but a foreigner and an exile
wherever I live. All earthly governments are "less than nothing" in
God's sight (see Isa. 40:15-17!). Moreover, the Bible is clear that all
human governments are under "the deceiver of the nations" (Rev. 9:11;
Just to be
clear, I'm not saying that we shouldn't vote or that we shouldn't
support the political party/leader of our choice. I'm not saying that
people who run for public office are evil. Nor am I denying that
there are leaders who are sincere in their desire to serve their
country. (On the "sincerity scale," I'm sure both Mitt Romney and Barack
Obama think they are perfect 10s!) But given the clear witness of the
New Testament, I have to question the confidence that is placed in human
government when we should be preoccupied with investing our time and
energy in living under and expanding the reign of God.
If it is
counter-cultural to say "the brightest hope in the world" is Jesus
Christ (and NOT Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin, Barack Obama, Ron Paul, the
Democratic Party, etc.), then so be it!
PM D. B. Hamill's
Jesus and me broke up really got me thinking. On the one hand, I've
always been a Jesus freak of sorts. Started out that way in Hawaii and
stayed that way all through my studies at Biola, Talbot, and even Basel.
At one time I even wore mariachi sandals and had really long hair --
just like Jesus of course (*sarcasm*). On the other hand, I have always
had a feeling deep in my gut that there was something eccentric about
the "Jesus Movement" of the 1960s and 70s. For a good many of us, Jesus
wasn't so much Lord and Master as a good buddy and pal. Also, our
Christianity was very individualistic. "Me" and "I" were more often
spoken than "we" and "us." Finally, I think our version of faith was
more needs-based than obedience-based, at least it was for me.
Today I am still in
love with Jesus (in the good-old-fashioned Jesus freak sense), but
working together for the Gospel requires more than a personal walk with
Jesus. The older I've grown the clearer I've seen that the Christian
life is to be lived in community so that we can keep each other
accountable and spur each other on to love and good deeds. I think
that's one reason why Jesus sent out His workers 2 by 2. That's why
Becky and I do our work in Ethiopia as a team (usually of 2 but often,
like thus summer, as a team of 25). To be honest, I have found more joy
in serving Jesus together than I have in my solo acts.
I ask you to pray
for me. Pray for me to yield to the Spirit in every area of my life. I
want to be the foot-washer that Jesus wants me to be. I want to show my
students what it means to love other people and how it looks to lead a
Spirit-filled life. My quest is to do this not as a lone ranger but in
association with my brothers and sisters in Christ.
How thankful I am
that God can take even a crusty old Jesus freak and remake him into the
image of Christ!
PM Captain Sullenberger is retiring, according to
report. And what will the hero of the Hudson do?
Sullenberger said he
plans to spend more time with his family in retirement and will
write another book. He will also continue to talk to lawmakers about
raising minimum qualifications for pilots and work to lower the
maximum number of hours pilots are able to work in a single day.
PM Coming to understand Jesus as fully God is a
life-changing event for anyone. A new book claims to deliver practical,
powerful theological content to that end. It is wonderfully titled
Putting Jesus in His Place and is reviewed by Matt Evans
here. All Christians need to be armored up as we present the radical
claims of Jesus Christ to our lost friends.
PM Here's a big question I often wrestle with in
teaching Greek: How much information do you give to beginning students
of the language? Take the third declension. After considering different
options I decided I'd give my students the basic case-number suffixes
and just enough exposure to basic paradigms to enable them to recognize
most third declension nouns when they read their Greek New Testaments.
When you think about the third declension it's really not all that
difficult. What is absolutely necessary, however, is that students learn
the genitive and the article of every third declension noun in
their vocabulary or else they'll be completely lost when they try to
Does anyone else
struggle with this? (Movie idea: Indiana Jones and the Search for the
Perfect Greek Grammar.) I'm trying to get my rational head around
Anyways, I'm very
excited that we've covered the good old third decision because now we
get to move on to the mother of all Greek topics -- those potent
PM Quote of the day (Jared Bowie):
Jesus had a
great, big convoy and he knew where He was leading it. He knew what not to stop for.
Jesus Didn't Stop. I can't help but be reminded of all the times I
stopped when I knew I should have plowed ahead. I love you Jesus for
loving me even when I'm wishy-washy!
PM 56 years ago a young married couple left Dallas,
TX, with their blond-haired baby in tow. Their destination? The nation
of Ethiopia. Man were they motivated! They learned to speak Amharic then
went down country to establish some of the first schools in all of
Southern Ethiopia. They had joined a great movement of post-WW II
American revolutionaries who were radical about taking the Good News to
the ends of the earth. I am so honored to know Brad and Betty Lapsley.
After all, I married the daughter they took with them to Ethiopia!
I invite you to
take a look at a wonderful interview that Mrs. Jody Neufeld recently had
with that little girl (now grown). You'll find it over at
Bible Study Paths. But be warned. Like every true revolution, the
Jesus revolution comes with a price tag. It cost Becky's mom her health
(which is why the Lapsleys returned from the field in 1964). All I can
say is praise the Lord for this family. They have made such a impact on
my life that I feel every time I step on to Ethiopian soil. Along with
many others, they taught me that there is nothing more important in this
life than leading people to Jesus -- nothing.
PM B and I just got back from running around town.
Saw this church sign along the way:
Judge Not Less Ye Be Judged.
I am NOT kidding.
And no, I am NOT judging!
AM Should pastors be paid salaries? What does the New
Testament teach on the subject, including those controversial texts such
as 1 Tim. 5:17? For Darryl Erkel's opinion, go
PM If you've never seen the Basel Fasnacht live and
in person, you've never lived. In case you are scratching your head --
"Fasnacht did he say?" -- here's possibly
the finest report I've ever read about this annual event in the city
of my doctorate. My favorite quote is one I think all of us writers
(bloggers included) would do well to take to heart:
There is one golden
rule: do not take yourself seriously.
Amen to that!
PM One of the joys of my work is to follow up by
phone or email with prospective students. I'm often asked, "What is
unique about Southeastern?" My answer is usually comprised of three
words: "The Great Commission." Often there's a pause and then the person
will say, "I thought you were a seminary and not a mission." Well, we're
actually both. We're a seminary on mission!
As a Greek prof
I'm always reminding my students of this crucial fact. Ministry is where
it's at. Whatever we do in the classroom is mere preparation to help us
calibrate our ministries according to biblical principles. If our Gospel
centers on our studies rather than on Christ's glorious act of
self-sacrifice, it is no Gospel at all. And if the Gospel we present is
not backed up by our own lives (sacrificial living, sacrificial giving)
-- in other words, if Eph. 2:8-9 is not backed up by Eph. 2:10 -- then
it is no Gospel at all. At the end of the day I don't want students who
excel in their studies but whose only focus is on academics. What I seek
is a spiritual transformation that takes place when the Holy Spirit uses
the truth of God's Word to initiate a lifestyle of discipleship. I want
to raise up an army of church leaders whose lives will rock their
communities with the Good News and who will unleash the Body of Christ
to be the hands and feet of Jesus in the tough places of the world.
I don't know why
I'm telling you this tonight except that I'm on semester break and am
missing the classroom terribly. I want to be intentional in all
that I do as a teacher. I want my students to be passionate about the
Gospel. I want all of us to be willing to leave our comfort zones and go
out to the dangerous places just because Jesus tells us to. Students, if
we really want to see the world reached with the Gospel then we must
believe the real, unadulterated Gospel and then we must live
the real, unadulterated Christian life. Together we can do it.
Thank you Jesus!
PM Thanks to Matt and Liz, Becky and I enjoyed a
delicious gumbo dish for supper.
Tasted every bit
as good as anything we've ever eaten in Nawlins. We could hardly carry
on a normal conversation at the table. We kept oohing and awing. Thank
you guys for thinking of us!
PM Here's something I'm praying about: doing chalk
drawing evangelism during our July trip. I've never done this before but
I think it would be well received. Usually I just do portrait drawing,
which inevitably "draws" a crowd. I love drawing for Jesus! Shows you
that God can use any ability we have if we make it available to Him.
After all, He's the one who gave it to us in the first place!
PM Ethiopia team members: One word you'll hear often
in Ethiopia is "Ishee." Of all the words a foreigner needs to learn how
to use, this is possibly the most important one. It is the most
grammatically versatile of all the Ethiopia expressions I know. It
carries a shade of meaning very similar to our "Okay." ("Shall we go?"
"Ishee."). There is hardly a conversation in which the word is not used.
At its core is perhaps the idea of "going along to get along." Remember,
Ethiopian culture is very relationship oriented. A key characteristic is
the willingness and desire to fit in, to cooperate for the greater good,
to go along to get along. So, listen for "Ishee" and learn how to use it
yourself. More at our next orientation.
PM Two prayer requests:
1) First, please
pray for Becky. She's constantly on the phone or writing emails while
organizing our trips to Ethiopia this month and in July. Pray for
wisdom. The idea is not to micromanage the Lord's work but to manage it
effectively from 30,000 feet. What an awesome responsibility!
2) Secondly, I am
excited to announce that next Thursday at 12:30 I'll be speaking at
North Carolina State University. My lecture is sponsored by the
Christian students there who are waging war for the souls of their lost
friends. I am working hard on a talk that hopefully will present the
basic claims of Christianity in a clear and winsome way. Will you pray
for me and invite others to do the same? Pray that God does a mighty
work in the hearts of the students on this campus.
Oh yeah, I'll be
AM Quote of the day #2:
(It) was just the kind
of thing that happens when you show up alone in a distant country
without a plan.
Actor Andrew McCarthy, on being escorted
out of a church in Ethiopia at gun point.
AM Here's the passage we're discussing in Greek 4
next week. I am currently memorizing it in Greek.
What a precious
and convicting word (mostly convicting!). The text speaks to my
laziness, my selfishness. The Bible says plainly, "Freely you have
received, freely give." Every gift I have is the result of God's "varied
grace" (1 Pet. 4:10). Therefore I am to give freely to others as an
unmerited, unpaid-for favor. "What did you have that you did not receive
without paying for it?" asks Paul in 1 Cor. 4:7. Does that say anything
to you? Do you see the point of Paul's exhortation here in 1 Thess.
2:9-12? Work is the irresistible responsibility of the Christian.
We can't shake it off. We can't escape from our responsibility to give
freely to others just as God has freely given to us all things. Paul is
saying in essence, "Look at how we lived when we were with you. We did
everything for your sake. We were never a burden to you. We
served you without pay of any kind." Many of us fail to grasp the
reality of this. When we go on a missions trip we automatically ask
others to pay for our airfare and food. We never even stop to consider
that perhaps by scrimping and going without that trip to Starbucks we
could pay for most (or at least a good portion) of our travel and meal
expenses ourselves. Paul received gifts from others only when he was
financially unable to pay his own expenses (usually due to
imprisonment). I'm not saying that fundraising is wrong. But fundraising
serves us falsely when it leads us to shrink from our duty.
to the Thessalonians are clear. Read them for yourself:
You know what you must do to
imitate us. We lived a disciplined life among you. We didn't eat
anyone's food without paying for it. Instead, we worked hard and
struggled night and day so as not to be a burden to any of you. It's
not as though we didn't have the right to receive support. But we
wanted to set an example for you to follow (2 Thess. 3:7-9).
Then he commanded
the idlers, "We order and encourage such people by the Lord Jesus Christ
to pay attention to their own work so that they can support themselves"
(2 Thess. 3:12).
Some will say, "I
could never support myself in ministry." And for some that would be
literally true. But I suspect that for many of us that would be paltry
rhetoric! On the contrary, we have to firmly and rigorously assert that
there is no escape from Paul's injunction:
Don't work, don't
AM Quote of the day (Henry Neufeld):
Spending $20,000,000 on the
denomination’s image doesn’t seem right to me.
AM I'm currently reading
The Man Who Presumed, the biography of Henry Stanley, who uttered
the famous words, "Dr. Livingstone, I presume."
On p. 63 we are
given an insight into Stanley's state of mind during his expedition:
My mission to
find Livingstone was very simple, and was a clear and definite aim.
All I had to do was to free my mind from all else, and relieve it of
every earthly desire but the finding of the man whom I was sent to
seek. To think of self, friends, banking-account, life-insurance, or
any worldly interest but the one sole purpose of reaching the spot
where Livingstone might happen to rest, could only weaken my
resolution. Intense application to my task assisted me to forget all
I had left behind, and all that might lie ahead in the future.
people will have exactly the same kind of single-eyed focus! Jesus gave
us the same basic message that a New York newspaper gave Stanley: FIND
THE LOST! Jesus will have no one among His followers who puts family
ties, comfort, security, or possessions above His kingdom. He says to
each one of us: "I'm offering you what I have -- hardship, danger,
hunger, sweat, blood, tears, and death. Give up everything to follow Me,
or don't come at all."
doesn't come cheap. The Bible requires us to voluntarily go out of the
way to accept assignments that involve hardship and danger. Every
Christian has something to do in this great task of world
PM Today, while Becky, Matt, and Liz gallivanted in
Chapel Hill, the boys and I had more fun than a sack of confused
weasels. Here's proof.
Micah loves our
Caleb gets hay for
the cattle from the barn:
Isaac tosses hay
with perfect form:
Micah gets into the
"Look, Papa B, a
Hay is for
Trailers are for
Nathan's Cutty Sark model:
DQ!! This is the
same Dairy Queen in Oxford where Keith Elliott and I once bought a
postcard for his wife in Leeds that said, "Greetings from Oxford."
Caleb on bars:
Hi Papa B!
potatoes for supper:
Time out for
Micah loving on
Caleb and Sheba:
Playing in the
backyard while supper cooks:
My salad helper:
returned just in time for a delicious supper:
My hardworking and
loving boys, thank you for all of your help today. Papa B loves you and
is very proud of you!!
PM Something has rubbed Arthur Sido
the wrong way, big time. What is it, and do you agree with his
PM The boys and I just started cooking supper:
barbecued chicken with baked potatoes and Caesar's salad. Did I mention
corn on the cob?
AM Guess who's visitin' me this fine March day? Yep,
Caleb, Isaac, and Micah. We've already fed the cows, rode on the tractor
and Hercules, and had Sloppy Joes for lunch, and now we're fixin' to go
to Dairy Queen in Oxford then to the playground before returning to the
farm for a nap. After naps we've got our afternoon chores then supper.
We took a long walk and the boys found lots of souvenirs, including huge
bones and beautiful bird feathers. Liz and Matt, your home will never be
Oh, I'm takin'
lots of pix!
AM Neologism of the day:
Feeology. (See the comment section in
this post.) You gotta love it!
This is why all full
expressions of the doctrine of inerrancy make allowance for
What do you think? Are there
grammatical mistakes in the Greek of the New Testament? You can bet
we'll be discussing this notion in Greek class next week.
AM Brother Jon Glass reports on his church's
partnership with Ethiopia. Jon and his wife Matthea will join us
this summer as we return to Burji.
Below: Jon with
James during our 2008 trip. James volunteered to translate for Jason and
me as we trekked among the warring Gujis. James was murdered a few weeks
after the team returned to the States.
AM If you are planting a church in North America,
have you ever considered tentmaking rather than support? Here's a
well-written case for it (.pdf):
Tentmaking and North American Church Planting. The author (who
teaches missions at Southern Seminary) includes 5 interesting case
studies for your consideration. Well worth your time.
P.S. We'll be
discussing this whole issue next week as we exegete 1 Thess. 2:9-12 in
AM A doctoral student at Dallas Seminary
the beans. (I'm with you, Jason, on the orange juice thing.)
AM Working on an essay entitled "The Supreme
Importance of the Great Commission."
AM This morning I was reading Raimondo's latest (The
Road to Dictatorship) and was reminded of Wordsworth's line about
France during the Revolution -- "The land all swarmed with passion, like
a plain/Devoured by locusts" -- the awful sense of futility, and reason
waiting to be devoured, not by locusts, but by otherwise intelligent
people. Everywhere there seems to be a complete indifference to truth
and the common decencies of civilized society. At any rate, you can read
the essay for yourself and see whether or not you agree. I think it is a
AM This is late, but I just happened to run across
tribute to Donald Wiseman. His death marks the passing not only of a
brilliant mind but also of an epoch of history and, one might almost
say, a character of fiction.
AM Quote of the day:
shocking to note how few know the Bill of Rights.
AM I am picturing a week of writing and reading,
unless profligacy gets in the way. I was fairly proficient last Saturday
but I am expecting some visitors to the farm today so will have to
"flow" (as we say in Ethiopia).
AM Alan's latest
Scripture ... As We Live It is painfully true. Oh the coals of fire
you pour upon my head! I am ashamed to say how well that describes me.
Yes, I may think my gifts are horribly important, but have others
nothing important to say?