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April 2017 Blog Archives 

Sunday, April 30 

7:40 PM You probably know that world famous mountaineer Ueli Steck has died in the Himalaya while training to summit Everest and Lhotse. He was only 41. Just the other night I was watching a YouTube of him speed-climbing the Eiger. Ueli was the inspiration for my own attempts on the Breithorn, Oberrothorn, Klettersteig, and Matterhorn last July. He was an adventurer who loved to climb without fixed ropes. I am saddened to hear of his death. Just today I was talking with our Nepalese friends at the race in Morrisville and I mentioned to several of them my desire to trek to Everest Base Camp in Nepal one day. I'm no professional climber, not by a long shot, but I know that climbers must constantly make yes-or-no decisions. It's just inescapable. All of the fateful decisions in history have been made, in the end, by a simple response to a dilemma. Climb or not climb? Go solo or not? Use the fixed ropes or bypass them? Attend UNC or State? Say yes to Jesus or not? It was so tough when I had to decide last October to climb Mt. Bierstadt and Huron Peak in the Rockies by myself. Perhaps that's why I insisted that the weather conditions had to be nearly perfect for me to even think about climbing these 14ers. I'm glad I'll be accompanied on my climb of Elbert in September by an experienced mountaineer.

But today my thoughts and prayers are with Ueli's family in Switzerland.

7:08 PM In case anyone was wondering, yes, I did another 5K today in preparation for Cincy, this one in the great town of Morrisville, NC. Stats?

Finish time: 29:55

Pace: 9:38

Stacked away in some deep dark corner of my memory is an event that literally shook the earth, or at least a large part of the planet. I'm referring to the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck Nepal on Saturday, April 25, 2015. 31 out of 75 districts in the nation were affected, and nearly 9,000 people were killed and another 22,000 injured. It will take years for Nepal to recover, considering that (for example) 8,000 schools were severely damaged or collapsed. Well, Run 4 Nepal 5K to the rescue!

I was at last year's event as well. For many of us runners, the name of the game is service.

We love to run and compete, yes, but we love to help out even more. A natural disaster is a mindboggling event. To strike back, I can tie up my running shoes and make a donation of not only money but time and effort. I had no idea the Nepalese population of the Raleigh/Cary/Morrisville area was so large. Here I am with the deputy mayor of Morrisville, himself Nepalese.

And, of course, after the race I just had to visit one of the local Nepalese restaurants for some curry chicken.

If that wasn't blessing enough, I was asked to share a bit of my life story with some of the local youth. As a general rule, I don't speak at running events!

Friends, all around us are people who are "different" from us. I say, "Viva la difference!" God has brought the nations to Raleigh. Relax. Get comfortable. Enjoy your surroundings. Most of all, realize that God doesn't play favorites. He loves all people. He causes His rain to fall on the just and the unjust alike. And He has given each us the ability (at least to a degree) to reach out and help others when they face times of crisis.

P.S. Our haying season has officially started.

Picking up bales tomorrow. Each year I soooooo look forward to this day.

6:18 AM The final exam in our LXX class this semester allows students the option of 1) taking an exam over Amos, or 2) memorizing a portion of Amos 7 in the Greek and reciting it to the professor. Which would you do?

6:10 AM This morning I read a devotional book, actually a chapter in it dealing with the famous woman-taken-in-adultery passage. The author made several telling points:

  • Where was her partner in crime? (They had been caught in the very act, you'll recall.)

  • Why were women in that day held accountable for the sins of men?

  • Men could divorce their wives seemingly for any infraction no matter how menial, but women?

  • Jesus walks right into the trap and defends her.

  • Interestingly, the only person without sin and innocent enough to throw a stone doesn't. "Go and leave your life of sin."

Jesus came to set us free. It takes courage to stand bare before Him and offer Him our failings. But that's just what Jesus is calling me to do. My blind spots are so terribly blind. If I can blame you for my sins, then my place is better secured. John 8 reminds me that such cheap tricks don't work. May the world see in me and my family a committed group of men and women who love their God, can't get enough of one another, and teach and lead each other by having earned the right to speak truthfully.

5:52 AM MISSION POSSIBLE. That's Paul's point in Phil. 2:12-18. We can be on business for the Gospel, but the key is be passionate about reaching and submerging into that space with love and mutual respect. When we align our values with those of the Gospel, we automatically share common ground with our fellow believers. Church, what if we really loved our neighbors and offered them genuine community, showing them what a healthy church looks like rather than just inviting them to one? What if we purged our churches of the partisan identification that has plagued the body of Christ since Constantine? Discipleship is not a purely personal matter. It's a lifestyle where everyone is valued. Paul is here not talking about the mere mechanics of doing church. He's thinking about what people do in their real lives as they embrace an authentic faith manifested through mercy and community. "Go out into the world uncorrupted," writes Eugene Peterson, "a breath of fresh air in this squalid and putrid society. Carry the Light-giving Message into the night so I'll have good cause to be proud of you on the day that Christ returns" (Phil. 2:14-16). And a key element of such authentic faith is sacrificial living (2:17-18).

With verse 17, Paul's about to make a significant shift in his argument in Philippians. He's already shown how Jesus put self-sacrifice before self. Now he appeals to them on the basis of Christ's own humble attitude to display the same willingness to have one's life poured out in sacrifice for others. Paul's a good example of that attitude (2:17-18), and so are Timothy (2:19-24) and Epaphroditus (2:25-30) -- three men who lived for the sake of the Gospel and who put the needs of others before their own. Could your name be added to that list? Could mine?

Saturday, April 29 

5:46 PM Here's "nerdy" question: Most of the imperatives in Phil. 2:12-18 are in the present tense. What significance (if any) do you attach to that, and how would that affect the way you'd go about translating these commands into English?

5:24 PM When I first began to study the book of Philippians, 2:14 made absolutely no sense. Why this command to "Do all things without grumbling and complaining"? The exhortation seemed to appear out of nowhere. But wait -- discourse analysis to the rescue! Philippians sings one tune, and it sings it well: unity in the cause of the Gospel. Nothing -- including personality differences and especially not selfish ambition -- must come between us as together we "contend for people's trust in the Gospel" (1:28). The Gospel is the life that surges into our lives as followers of Jesus, pushing off the old self-centered ways and making room for the new. Of course, if you think that Paul has only personal sanctification in view in 2:12-13, you might think differently. "Dave, work out your own salvation!" "Mary, work out yours!" "Jose, work out yours!" Yet, as F. F. Bruce writes,

In this context Paul is not urging each member of the church to keep working at his or her personal salvation; he is thinking of the health and well-being of the church as a whole. Each of them, and all of them together, must pay attention to this.

"So then, my dear friends," writes Paul in 2:12-13, "since you always followed my instructions when I was with you, now that I'm away it's even more important that you do this. Work hard as a church to show the results of your salvation, with deep reverence and fear, because it is God who is at work among you to give you both the desire and the ability to do what pleases Him." The idea can be summarized as follows: "I plead with you to obey me and to work at bringing healing to your community. For God is already at work among you to foster good will instead of ill will."

Unity -- working together for something much bigger than our personal agendas -- is the mark of a true church. Serious Christians daily display the "marks" of following Christ. And one of these is that we "do everything without complaining and arguing." That way, when we carry the life-giving Message into a dark world, people will listen to us. We'll work together cheerfully and readily without bickering and backbiting. Yes, even on the 100th day of a president's administration, we'll realize that politics itself doesn't have to divide us.

The peace Christ gives is different from what the world gives. Take some time today to write down the ways He has brought peace into your relationships. Don't give up or give in -- the "fruit of patience" (James 5:8) is well worth the wait.

12:38 PM Well, the 5K at Liberty University is now history. The event was fabulous. I was pumped before, during, and after the race. The runners appeared to be mostly students from Liberty or Lynchburg College.

As usual, I started off slowly, near the back of the pack.

But out of pure habit, I began running a bit outside of my comfort zone, and by the time the hills began I was dying. Oh, did I mention HILLS?

Even some of the younger runners were walking at this point. Still, I plowed ahead and finished 100th out of 300 runners. As you can see, I've lost about 10 pounds in the past month during my pre-marathon training.

I'm eating better too. I've said goodbye to potato chips, Pepsi, and even diet Pepsi. It was a beautiful day for a race. Blue sky, a bit of cloud cover, and average humidity for this time of the year. I'm satisfied with my day. Hope yours has been great.

On to my next race. Lets see what this surfer dude still has left in him!

6:25 AM I still can't believe I used a 13.1 race last week as a practice run. (Dawning panic.) By the way, did you know that half of all runners are faster than average? (You're supposed to chuckle).

Anyhoo ....

Off to the races!

5:52 AM Is a sub-two-hour marathon possible? Nike thinks so.

5:44 AM I believe in the way God brings texts into being. Something sacred happened in that moment. God meets us in those places, in those texts filled with meaning. Here's the overall structure of one such text (Phil. 2:5-11).

A Christ Jesus is God (5-6a)

     B He descended to earth and became subservient to humanity (6b-7)

          C He died a horrible death (8)

     B' He ascended to heaven and became exalted over humanity (9)

A' Jesus Christ is acknowledged as God (10-11)

It is this humble, self-emptying, and self-sacrificing attitude after which the Philippians are to pattern their relationships. Here the statements in A' and B' provide the logical outcome of Christ's self-emptying (described in A and B), while the midpoint of the chiasmus (C) calls special attention to the most striking element in the paragraph: Christ's humiliating death by crucifixion. Did you catch that last part? Christ's conduct is our ultimate pattern. Is there any more we could ask for? Paul, almost wishing to answer that question, will later give us three flesh-and-blood examples of the same selfless mind: himself, Timothy, and Epaphroditus. But for now, let's major on modeling the Master. This is our task as Christians. We must teach others who this Jesus is any way we can. We can't assume they'll just pick it up from church.

Friday, April 28 

5:38 PM There are 36 million victims of slavery in the world today. That's one reason I'm participating in the Running 4 Their Lives 5K tomorrow in Lynchburg. Register here. And remember: "Freedom isn't free."

5:02 PM A few utterly predictable posts:

1) These arrived today -- my cheesy "Petersburg Half Marathon Poses." Maybe I should start a Facebook page called "Nerdy Dudes (and Dudesses) Who Run." Any takers?

2) My assistant and Ph.D. student Noah Kelley finished a week of teaching in Colombia, South America today. Here he's giving a copy of our Greek grammar (in Spanish) to his translator. Journey mercies as you fly home tomorrow, Noah!

3) Am I the only one who reads their former professors' books?

2:02 PM Just said goodbye to our red Odyssey, which we bought when Becky was diagnosed with cancer in 2009. It had 45,000 miles on it when we got it. When I traded it in yesterday it had 207,000 miles. That's lots of trips to UNC. During those trips God was teaching us to accept suffering as a gift and then offer it back up to Him. Christ says, "I am with you day after day after day." He sure is.

1:54 PM The best moments of the 2017 Boston Marathon. Loved this quote from star Galen Rupp about his coach Alberto Salazar:

The biggest thing I’ve learned from him is toughness. He pushes us (his athletes) mentally harder than any other coach pushes their athletes. I might feel like I’m at my max, but his training is all about pushing through that.

Sounds like Salazar would make a great classroom teacher.

1:48 PM Glad our local farmer's market is open again. I bought some yellow squash for dinner tonight. Those maters look awesome.

7:30 AM Believe it or not, this runner grapples with the "theology of racing" all the time. Turns out that a marathon can teach you tons about real life and how to face the obstacles the evil one throws at you. Face it: Heb. 12:1-2 has a lot more to do with living the Christian life than running an actual foot race. But the parallels are astounding, don't you think?

Others have run their race and successfully completed it. Now it's our turn. Since we have this large crowd of witnesses surrounding us, let's rid ourselves of everything that gets in our way, especially the sin that holds on to us so tightly. Let's run with determination the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes focused squarely on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from the starting gun to the finish line.

In a week, Lord willing, I'll get on a plane for Cincinnati, Ohio. There awaits me the greatest athletic challenge I've ever faced, bigger than the Alps or the Banzai Pipeline. There I'll pick up my race bib and shirt, then use my cell phone to send everyone a picture, glomp down some carbs, and try to get some sleep. I know I'll be inspired by my fellow runners. I may even buy a 26.2 bumper sticker. I'll listen to live music trying to psych all of the racers up for the event (pleeeease, not Springsteen's Born to Run again!). Soon after sunrise on the morning of Sunday, May 7, I'll position myself with the slower runners at the back of the pack (probably about a half mile from the starting line) and listen for the countdown: Three, two, one, and then the horn. I'll follow the 26.2 mile course as it winds its way through Ohio and Kentucky. In many ways, this will be like any other foot race I've done. Places will change. Paces will vary. I'll run next to somebody for a while and then someone else will take his or her place. We are, after all, instant kin. Off we'll go, sharing the same feelings and fears, joys and woes, successes and failures. Non-verbal communication will bind us together. But in the end, each one of us has to run our own race. Nobody can run it for us.

Let's go over Hebrews' "list of things to do" again:

  • Draw encouragement from our fellow runners.

  • Rid ourselves of every little thing that would slow us down.

  • Determination is crucial, so don't leave that behind when the gun goes off.

  • Focus on the finish line.

Better to be entirely apathetic than to be unprepared for a race of this proportion. You'll notice that I no longer run with my iPhone. As dearly as I'd loved to take it along (for pictures), it's just another dead weight and will slow me down. (Thanks to my Garmin, I can still track my pace and time.) Most of all, I'll draw on that God-given determination that enables a person to keep on going when they just want to quit.

Training for this event has been such a blessing. I see life as a gift, and every race becomes a lesson in living that I'll never forget. I will make progress toward the perfection that always seems beyond our reach, filled with zeal, fired with enthusiasm. To get to the finish will take everything I have, and more. If I do finish the race, it won't matter if I come in 3,000th or 30,000th. Winning doesn't matter. It's the running that counts.

If anyone makes you feel like you'll never be able to finish the race of life, write a new narrative in your heart. Run your race. You don't have to be fast, just determined. Will you make it? You will. We will. Together.

6:44 AM The structure of Phil. 2:1-4:

(1) So if Christ brings you encouragement (and He does),

If His love comforts you (and it does),

If the Spirit has brought you into fellowship with one another (and He has),

And if you have kindness and compassion for one another (and you do),

(2) Then make me completely joyful by sharing the same thoughts,

Having the same love,

Being one in soul,

And intent on one purpose.

(3) Don't do anything from selfish ambition or a cheap desire to boast,

But with humility regard one another as more important than yourselves.

Don't look out for your own interests,

But also for the interests of others.

My dream is that when we see others' needs, we'll put them before our own whenever we can. It doesn't seem like much, maybe, but this selfless attitude meant everything to Paul, and it can literally show a watching world that this Christianity deal is for real.

Thursday, April 27 

6:48 AM This and that ....

1) Eager to get my hands on these:

2) I need to thank everyone who's sent me feedback about a possible conference on Greek linguistics at SEBTS (you know who you are). My questions are relentless and I appreciate you allowing me to pick your brains on the subject matter. Your enthusiasm -- feigned or not -- is a blessing. Conference or not, I definitely think there's a need for a volume of essays explaining the status quaestionis in terms that are accessible to students who've had only a year of Greek. The essay on verbal aspect, for example, would not be an apologia for the author's own views as much as it would be a history of interpretation treating the various schools of thought and how they affect the exegesis of the New Testament. I love books that are simple without being simplistic. And why can't we who belong to the so-called guild work together to serve our students in this way? The more we laugh and cry and pray and labor together, the stronger this journey gets.

3) I've got an extra copy of F. F. Bruce's NICNT commentary on Acts. It's yours for the asking at

4) In yesterday's class, Maurice Robinson mentioned what he thought was the Alexandrian text's penchant for omission -- a point I see is being made by James Snapp in part 2 of his summary of and response to the Tors-Costa debate on textual criticism. I've referred to the same "Alexandrian-omission-Tendenz" in my essays on John 3:13, Matt. 5:22, and Eph. 1:1 (go here for PDFs if you're interested). In each of these passages I've defended a Byzantine reading but not because it was a Byzantine reading, as I have no preference for any single text type -- which, I note, seemed to please Keith Elliott no end in his discussion of these readings in our FS. (Keith's chapter is available here.) Incidentally, in his essay Snapp also makes a reasonable defense of the Byzantine text's "in the prophets" in Mark 1:2 -- something I will take into account if and when I revise my book New Testament Textual Criticism: A Concise Guide, in which I argue that the Byzantine reading is an obvious "correction" of "in Isaiah the prophet," which may or not be true. Take a peek at the evidence for yourself sometime and let us know you think.

Incidentally, after Maurice finished his lecture I couldn't help but urge the class to reconsider the evidence for the originality of the PA and encouraged them to prayerfully consider proclaiming it to their congregations. Frankly, it makes my blood boil to see how the religious leaders of the day tried to use a woman as a weapon against Jesus. Jesus is radically pro-women. And He looks at all of us with the same compassion that He engaged the adulteress woman with in John 8. But don't get me started on that rabbit trail ....

5) It's almost here!

As everyone knows, this will be my first full marathon. I'm looking forward to it and the automatic PR if I finish. When I completed my 20-mile run 3 weeks ago, I thought about my running journey that got me to this point. The love, support, and prayers of my family and friends has been incredible, and I know that they will be with me every step of the race even though they can't be present in Cincy physically. I've learned so much about myself in this journey and I can't believe I'm about to become, Lord willing, a marathoner. The excitement is building like you can't believe. Tomorrow I'm going to UNC to meet with Vickie Bae-Jump to get an update on her research on endometrial cancer. What a great cause to run for, all in memory of my Becky. I'm positive you're sick of me saying it by now, but I hope you will go to the UNC website, make a donation if you can, and make Papa Dave proud of you. 

Wednesday, April 26 

4:40 PM Wonderful time on our beautiful campus.

Enjoyed lunch with one of our VPs.

And, as always, appreciated Maurice Robinson coming to my Jesus and the Gospels class to lecture on the Pericope of the Adulteress.



Tuesday, April 25 

7:25 AM What would we ever do without our dogs? 


6:44 AM Musings of a caffeine-deprived early bird:

1) Cooked this for supper last night.

Stir-fry, Bradford Hall-style. Chinese restaurants, eat your heart out.

2) Here's the only mention of "Ethiopia" in Amos.

But use caution: Today this region more closely approximates southern Egypt and northern Sudan than modern-day Ethiopia (Abyssinia).

3) Our outline of 1 John.

Right thinking should lead to right living.

4) Preaching the Christ-hymn in Phil. 2:5-11? Be sure to understand its place in the discourse structure of the letter first.

5) Finished this book last night.

The main thing I got from it is a renewed commitment to presenting Christ not only as the only means of our salvation but as the goal of our discipleship.

6) This year malaria patients in U.S. hospitals will number more than 1,000.

Researchers found that between 2000 to 2014 there were 22,029 total malaria-related hospitalizations....

I was one of them.

This group of malaria patients often required multiple days in the hospital. They spent 4.36 days, on average....

I spent 7 days and lost 23 pounds. I once felt that the Christian life was something like an insurance policy. No kidding, I really did. Then I said to myself, as Rommel puts it in the movie The Longest Day, "Wie dumm von mir!" Who said we'd be exempt from the thorns and thistles of life? Not Jesus.

Keep on running,


Monday, April 24 

6:18 PM 13 DAYS. Yes, I'm nervous. 

5:38 PM A few takeaways from Louw's Lexicography and Translation:

  • Since the range of meanings of words in any two languages never match completely, one must look for and expect structural inconsistency rather than one-to-one correspondence in detail (p. 1).

  • One reason why people have not recognized the diversity of meanings of a particular word is that they feel that there must be some kind of core nuclear meaning which exists in a word and which is relevant in all of its occurrences (p. 2).

  • An etymological approach to meaning can often be completely misleading (p. 3).

  • In no case does the range of meanings of apparently corresponding words in two languages ever match completely, neither does any one set of corresponding meanings match in every and all contexts (p. 4).

  • The three primary semantic functions of words are naming, marking, and substituting, with the primary function being naming (p. 5).

  • Words may also be semantically complex in that they may consist of more than one semantic class (p. 8).

This is one reason I do NOT translate, say, Amos 9 into English from the Greek. What the Greek says and what the English says are two very different things.

More anon.

5:22 PM Just curious. Does anybody use Alexa any more? I remember the early days of blogging when everyone was checking their stats and there was even a competition (of sorts) to see who made the Biblioblogs Top 50. I for one am glad those days are over. Today, most bloggers I know have a very different agenda for a very different age.

1:06 PM I just got back from South Boston and boy is there a lot of rain out there. The creeks and even the Dan River are almost to the point of cresting. I sure hope that people living in the low-lying areas are spared flooding. Of course, the rain is good for our pastures, but flooded fields aren't good either. The Lord knows and I trust Him. The reason I drove into town today was to have "major surgery" on my poor old toenails.

Since I began running a couple of years ago I've had dozens of black toenails. Thankfully, I've never had issues with fungus or infection, and my nails have never really bothered me all that much (except to look at). I think it was Jeff Galloway who said that the best way to deal with black toenails is to ignore them. Keeping them cut, however, is a different story, and today I got the royal treatment. Nothing too good for my stinking toes! Then it was off to the Y to run a 5K indoors coz it's way too wet to run outdoors.

Personally, I'm not a big fan of treadmills. On a treadmill it's too easy to just "lock in a pace" and then forget about what you're doing. Besides, it's just plain boring. I need scenery to take my mind off the blinking lights in front of me. But on a rainy day like today, you have no choice. Right now I'm going through Amos 9 in the LXX and also reviewing our LXX page over at the Greek Portal. Here you'll find links to some great websites, including Will Ross's Septuaginta &c. (By the way, congratulations to Will for his new article in Biblica. I'm eager to get my hands on it tomorrow when I return to campus.) Right now I'm reading (online) Albert Pietersma's A New Paradigm for Addressing Old Questions: The Relevance of the Interlinear Model for the Study of the Septuagint. Might this be the doorway to bring about a new understanding of the LXX? Hmm. That said, I'll confess that whenever I read the LXX (say, Amos, as I'm doing now), I read it as a text qua text long before I even consult the Hebrew. This always sets me to thinking. Then I carefully compare the Hebrew Vorlage (such as it is) and turn into The Translation Investigator. It's not a very efficient method, but being the Greek guy that I am you'll understand why I start with the LXX text. Later today I'll busy myself with reading Dines on Amos -- she's always got something to add to the discussion -- and then turn my attention to my Greek 2 class preparation. It's wonderful to have so many helps at our fingertips, isn't it? 

7:48 AM This and that ....

1) Last night I finished rereading the novel Gettysburg by Gingrich and Forstchen. If you've read The Killer Angels, you'll want to read this novel as well. You'll recall in The Killer Angels where Longstreet turns to Lee and says, "Let's move around to the south and get between Meade and Washington. Then they'll have to hit us and we'll have them, we'll have them!" Well, in Gettysburg, this is exactly what happens. The Federal Army is soundly defeated at the Battle of Westminster and sent scurrying for cover to Harrisburg while Lee marches on DC. This is a very compelling fictionalization of an event that very well could have happened -- and almost did. I loved the style of writing!

2) Will Ross of Cambridge University was kind enough to email me with a link to their upcoming workshop on Greek prepositions, to be held June 30-July 1. I'd love to sit in the audience but, alas, I'll be teaching summer school Greek.

3) Motivation! That's the key to so many things in life, not least running. As a complete novice, I should know. I'm a fairly new runner. A newbie with a gleam in my eye but very little background as a runner. Recognizing this, I created a training program aimed at taking me from 5K races to 10Ks and then to half marathons until I felt comfortable enough with my progress to sign up for a full marathon. Not every runner has a plan. But we achieve more in life when we plan properly. I realize I'm probably preaching to the choir here. But if you haven't set a specific race goal for your running, who not do that today? Find a 5K in your area and put it on your calendar. Same with that language you're trying to learn. I know many doctoral students who struggle with their German. When I ask them, "What's your review schedule?" they often answer, "I don't have one." Prior to going to Basel I taught myself German, French, Dutch, Spanish, and Latin. I knew I'd need these languages once I arrived at the university. I recall learning Dutch while sitting in a coffee shop in La Mirada waiting for the gas station to open. These were the days of gas rationing and long lines. So once a week I'd park my car at the pump at 2:00 am and study Dutch grammar until the station opened at 6:00 am. Interestingly, as a runner I've discovered that the more I run, the most impressive gain is in the amount of oxygen utilizable by my tissues. I huff and puff less. Of course, you can't attain that efficiency the moment you decide to take your first running steps. But you have to have a goal. The heart is like any other muscle; it strengthens with exercise.

Greek student: Are you getting "fitter"? If not, maybe you're just not "exercising" enough.

4) A free copy of Getting into the Text will go to the person who writes a brief two-paragraph answer to this question: "How has your study of New Testament Greek made you a better person and follower of Jesus?" If I get more than one submission I'll pick the winner from a hat tomorrow (or by casting lots) at 8:00 am. My email address is

5) Are you single? Then read this outstanding essay by Ekimini Uwan. Paul called both marriage and singleness a charisma, a gracious gift from God. Don't necessarily assume that marriage is right for you. And if you are called to singleness, rejoice.

Sunday, April 23 

7:32 PM This will be a fun week of training! It will probably be my lowest mileage all year as I continue my taper before Cincy. On Saturday, if I'm feeling good, I'll participate in my last pre-marathon race. The event is called Run 4 Their Lives Lynchburg. Proceeds will go to Christine's House in Gulu, Uganda -- a home for sexually exploited women and girls. If you live near Lynchburg I hope you'll join me and bring your friends. The 5K starts at 9:00 am. Here's hoping for nice weather on race day!

P.S. In case you're new to my blog, the 19th running of the Flying Pig Marathon in Cincinnati is scheduled for Sunday, May 7. This year's race has 40,000 participants. I'll be there to raise funds for cancer research. If you'd like to make a donation, please go to my Piggin' Out for a Cancer Cure page. Needless to say I'm getting super excited!

8:30 AM It's hard for me to believe, but it's been 30 years since I first published my book Linguistics for Students of New Testament Greek. The book reflected the story of my heart, the arc I found most vital and relevant to my generation of Greek students. I had no concept then that the field of New Testament Greek linguistics would take off as it's done since. I can't tell you how thrilled and grateful I am that others much better qualified than I have advocated on behalf of a linguistically-informed approach to the study of the biblical languages. Something beautiful and thrilling is happening. A sense of global solidarity is taking the academy to incredible new heights, as several recent publications have proved:

  • Porter's Linguistic Analysis of the Greek New Testament

  • Campbell's Advances in the Study of Greek and Basics of Verbal Aspect in Biblical Greek

  • Runge's The Greek Verb Revisited and Discourse Grammar of the Greek New Testament

I'll tell you this: God has enriched my life through books like these. I believe He is doing a new thing today, just as He did 30 years ago. I'm convinced that the new generation of Greek students stands on a tiny spot in history in which it is their turn to experience the benefits of linguistic science in a new way. Forty-one years into my teaching career and I'm more convinced than ever that we have to come face to face with the issues dividing us today in terms of Greek theory and pedagogy. The gap between biblical studies and linguistics remains large, in numerous areas:

  • Lexical semantics

  • The usefulness of "semantic domains"

  • Verbal aspect theory

  • Developing oral competency in Greek

  • The place of electronic tools in Greek pedagogy

  • Replacing the Erasmian pronunciation

  • Deponency

  • Discourse analysis

  • Linguistic "schools"

What am I missing here? What topics should be included in a major conference on the Greek of the New Testament should I decide to try and hold one on our campus? This would be my third (and possibly final) colloquium that I would plan. The first 3 were held in 2000, 2007, and 2014. They treated topics that can, at best, only be considered ancillary to the topic of New Testament Greek per se -- to wit, textual criticism, the synoptic problem, the authorship of Hebrews, the ending of Mark, the Pericope of the Adulteress. Each of these conferences began as a small flicker in my consciousness -- a tiny flame that sparked and caught and eventually engulfed my life. Not surprisingly, my mind still thinks along these lines. The result of holding those conferences was not only the published volumes that ensued, including my Rethinking New Testament Textual Criticism, Rethinking the Synoptic Problem (co-edited with David Beck), Perspectives on the Ending of Mark, and The Pericope of the Adulteress in Contemporary Research (co-edited with Jacob Cerone). Clarity on these issues began to crack through. At the very least, students now had access to the thinking of some of the leading scholars of the day on their respective topics.

I believe the question on the table before us today is: "Is it time for a similar conference on New Testament Greek?" Personally, I see no way around this. You see, I read the same websites and Facebook pages you do, and I'm witnessing the same lack of unanimity and consensus that you see. I see a tunnel of chaos in our future -- not least concerning nomenclature -- and we are heading straight for it. However, ignoring the problem is not an option. We need a way forward. Progress will not be easy, of course. Addressing new ideas and challenging entrenched positions will make for a difficult transition. I think back to a book I edited under the title Linguistics and New Testament Interpretation: Studies in Discourse Analysis. That book was the direct result of a first-ever conference at SIL in Dallas that assembled 1) field Bible translators, 2) Ph.D.s in linguistics, and 3) biblical language scholars. For two weeks we probed each other, presented our papers, and even ate and roomed together. (I shared a room with Randall Buth.) This is certainly my bent -- to tackle a problem head-on. The Lord richly blessed our conference. Never did scholars stand with such open hands, clinging to nothing, ready for anything. I went there as a learner -- we all did. I shudder to think how sour that meeting might have become. It required courage to abandon formerly vital things like position, control, reputation. But this is the way true scholarship moves forward.

First obvious question: Who should be invited to participate? Who might God be calling to SEBTS?

Second question: I listed a few possible topics above. Agree? Disagree? What have I left out?

Third question: Shall we read papers or have discussion groups instead? I'm thinking both might work well. As far as I'm concerned, the more warm, relational, and informal, the better.

There are several very encouraging developments I see that point in this direction. Today we have such stimulating websites as Nerdy Language Majors and New Testament Greek Club (both at Facebook). Scholars such as Porter, Aubrey, Campbell, Halcomb, Levinsohn, Varner, Pennington, Mounce, Wallace, Carlson, Zacharias, Streett, Reed, and Fanning continue to post regularly on this subject. What fun it would be to mobilize this army for the cause of the Gospel. Everyone of us has an opinion about verbal aspect, the proper method of doing discourse analysis, etc. But truth is not a chimera -- you have your view, and I have mine. Yes, I have my convictions, but I will be the first to acknowledge that I may be wrong. Of course, I don't expect one conference to solve all of our problems. Yet imagine with me for a moment a scenario in which we all sit down in the same room and just talk to each other. "Could that person be right?" "Could they have seen something I've missed?" Too much of New Testament scholarship involves scholars talking past each other. This is frankly disastrous. So is the absence of grappling with the issues by our students.

It was Paige Patterson who agreed to hold our first colloquium on our campus back in 2000, just after I had arrived on the faculty. I sought his blessing to invite to our campus not only leading evangelical scholars but also scholars who might not have otherwise ever visited the Forest of Wake, including Eldon J. Epp, William Farmer, and Keith Elliott. When I presented my proposal to the president in his office, he turned to me and said, "Are you trying to get me in trouble?" The twinkle in his eye told me everything I needed to know: Full speed ahead! And so, the spring of 2,000 saw the likes of Blomberg, Bock, McKnight, Farmer, Osborne, Epp, Holmes, Elliott, Silva, and several other scholars grace our campus with their presence. Can that happen again? Should it? I await your feedback at Or talk about it at your Facebook page or on your blog. I'll be listening.

P.S. In chapel on Thursday I was honored beyond measure to receive a Festschrift by scholars I have long admired and respected. A very special thanks to Danny Akin and Thomas Hudgins for this labor of love on their part as editors, and to each of the 13 contributors. The table of contents may be found here. In the first essay in the volume (which you can read online at the publisher's site linked to above), my friend Stan Porter asks the question, "So What Have We Learned in the Last Thirty Years of Greek Linguistics?" He concludes (p. 32):

My survey of at least some of the major discussions of the variety of topics has made clear that much has been accomplished in the last thirty years, but that there is much that still remains to be done.

I, for one, am far from satisfied with the status quo. I am not convinced that we are doing as much as we can to seek a way forward, together. Greek students have a right to expect their leaders to lead courageously. I'd love to see greater unity and unanimity in the field of New Testament Greek linguistics. Will you join me in asking God to guide us? And if it is indeed His will that we should assemble, I am willing to try and organize the event.

Thank you.


Saturday, April 22 

5:42 PM Wow, that was a nice long nap. The rains have started up, just as predicted, and they should go through Wednesday -- which is exactly what all of our fields here need before we start our first cutting. Meanwhile, I'm prepping to teach the imperative mood in our Greek class on Tuesday. Which sort of makes me smile. You see, my new Garmin likes to talk to me. Especially when I haven't been active in a while. In which case I feel a little buzz on my arm and the word "Move!" appears on my watch face. Isn't that cute? Moving is not easy for any of us. Yet we all know that physical energy is necessary for anything we plan on doing in our daily lives. "Moving" develops that energy. It produces fitness of muscle, but it also produces another kind of fitness, a fitness beyond that. I'd describe it as a readiness to pursue whatever the Lord brings into our lives. Running makes people athletes in every area of their lives. They are ready for whatever comes. Like a race we do with our legs, life is made in doing and suffering and creating. All of these elements are present in a marathon race: courage, determination, discipline, will power. It creates what Maslov might describe as "peak performance." Running can trigger that. There's no word in English that can describe what it felt like to cross the finish line today. Some might call it a "runner's high." For a brief moment, I was the only one crossing that finish line. I was the only one being cheered on by the crowds. The ground may have been below my feet, but heaven was above my head. Despite the warm sweat and the aching muscles, I was reborn and renewed in my soul. The fact is that we humans are whole beings: body, soul, and spirit. The concept of "lifestyle" therefore includes our physical, mental, and spiritual selves. The race is for me what the mountain is to the climber. It's a contest in which I go out and do battle with myself. Maybe you're not into running. No problem. Go with whatever works for you. Be sure to make it fun. But wherever you are in life, take some physical exercise. In other words:


1:28 PM The past two weeks have been all about building my miles for the BIG DAY in Cincy. I continue to do my core work and my cross training at the Y, but this week's goal was to get in one final long run before marathon day. If you've been reading my blog, you know how excited I was to run in today's Petersburg Half Marathon. I drove up to Petersburg yesterday and got my race bib (and number) at the old train station downtown before heading out to one of their fine Italian restaurants to load up on carbs. Then I checked into my hotel and hit the hay early. I knew I needed a really good night's rest if I was going to run well today, and in fact I woke up at 5:30 completely rested and raring to go. I drove to the course and began my warm-ups. The race was very well organized. I got into the corral I had selected (the 2:30-pace group) and before I knew it the gun had sounded. While everyone began running I just stood there with my mouth hanging open. Seems I had forgotten to connect my Garmin to the satellite -- a process that normally takes about a minute or two and something you ALWAYS do long before the gun. Well, not silly me. A couple of minutes later I finally crossed the starting line -- dead last. The first three miles went exceptionally well and I was passing people right and left (they had probably gotten into the wrong corral at the start). By mile 6, I was drinking water and Gatorade pretty regularly, as the day was beginning to get hot. By that time we had passed the inner city (with its old church buildings and creepy "adult" bookstores) and had entered the Petersburg National Battlefield Park. I listened to the reenactors (both North and South) taking pot shots at each other with their Enfield rifles but noticed that they must have been poor aims because no one seemed to go down with a hit. (Must be them Kevlar uniforms they wear.) It was obvious, however, that their "performance" pleased many of the runners, for whom doubtless this was their first Civil War reenactment. I thought it was kinda cheesy, but you have to remember I've done some pretty big reenactments that involved over 30,000 -- and I'm talking only about the reenactors! Finally, we reentered Petersburg and started to head for the finish line. I still couldn't believe how good my legs felt. I crossed the finish line and checked my Garmin. I had PRed again! My official time today was 2:27:30, which took over 11 minutes off of the PR I got in Martinsville a month ago. My average pace today was about 11:16-per-mile. All I could think of was, "This is soooooooo awesome, Lord! Thank You!" Although the conditions today were far from ideal (about 100 percent humidity), thankfully the temps hovered about 70 degrees and never went any higher than that. I'd much rather run in the cold than in humidity. Humidity is the absolute worst! Half way into the race I was pouring water on my head just to stay cool. I felt strong and confident at the finish -- which bodes well (I think) for my marathon in two weeks. Of course, a marathon is a LOT harder than a half, but I try to keep my negativity in check.

I just got an email from the race sponsors and they tell me I was number 446 out of 645 finishers in the half (they also had a 5K). I'm also told that professional pictures will be posted to their website on Thursday, so I might purchase one to post here. Until then, here's a shot of the super-duper medal everyone got today. Glad I'll never have to wear it because the thing weighs a ton!

So yay! Another half under my belt and a great run to boot. Life don't get much better, folks!

Keep running your race,


Friday, April 21 

7:48 AM Odds and sods ....

1) In our Jesus and the Gospels class next Wednesday (12:00-2:50), our guest speakers will be Andreas Köstenberger and Maurice Robinson. Our subject is John's Gospel. Both of these men have done yeoman's work in this writing. Andreas will be lecturing on what I am told is his favorite verse in John (20:21). Here Jesus is said to be our model as a missionary, and we will succeed only as we imitate His example. Maurice will spend an hour treating the Pericope of the Adulteress (John 7:53-8:11) and will defend the passage's authenticity. If you live in the greater Wake Forest area and would like to sit in on one or both of these lectures, send me an email and it will be my pleasure to make arrangements for you to do so.

2) In our Greek 2 class next Tuesday we will begin our translation of 1 John and discuss the letter's epistolary structure. For an excellent introductory to this letter, see Barry Joslin's Getting Up to Speed: An Essential Introduction to 1 John. Another stimulating resource is Alistair Begg's message introducing 1 John to his congregation. You can listen to it here.

3) This weekend I'm rereading an old favorite of mine that many of you might not know about: J. P. Louw's Lexicography and Translation. I wish every pastor and teacher would read this book. In fact, I'm tempted to say, "Don't touch that Greek lexicon of yours until you have digested the contents of this book." Johannes Louw was the one who introduced me to the field of lexical semantics back in the mid-80s, and his works on Greek lexicography and semantics were indispensable as I began writing my book Linguistics for Students of New Testament Greek. His book will not only keep you from committing exegetical fallacies but will assist you in your daily walk with Jesus.

4) One of the reasons I decided to do the Petersburg Half Marathon tomorrow is the views I'll be treated to along the course.

Located at mile 12 is the Trapezium House -- so-called because the house has no right-angles. Sadly, I won't be able to take pictures because I'm leaving my iPhone behind now that I have my Garmin. (Jesus told us to "travel light," remember?)

Thursday, April 20 

6:48 PM I had a great week on campus. Today and Tuesday we held our "commissioning" chapels for our students going overseas or planting churches in North America. I've never known men and women who work so hard, love so deeply, and care so genuinely. What an honor to belong to the SEBTS community. Really, I can't imagine ever teaching anywhere else.

A couple of friends showed up in my classes this week, including Thomas Hudgins of Capital Seminary and Graduate School in DC. He lectured in my Greek 2 class on Tuesday about the use of electronic tools in the study of Greek, and then yesterday he shared with my Jesus and the Gospels class about the subject of his doctoral dissertation, "Jesus and Likeness Education" (Luke 6:40).

Also yesterday, my SEBTS colleague David Beck, who earned his Ph.D. under Moody Smith at Duke and is an expert in Johannine studies, told the class how narrative interpretation works in the New Testament and in the Gospel according to John specifically.

The time and energy my friends put into their guest lectures in my classes are extraordinary gifts of love to me. I'm now back on the farm and eager to run my half marathon this Saturday and my full marathon in 2 weeks. There's nothing like the feeling you get from setting an audacious goal, sticking with it, and then (by the sheer grace of God) accomplishing it. I would be lying if I said this was easy. But.... I'm healthy. I'm eating cleaner than I have in years. I'm pretty sure my weight is about where it's supposed to be. I ran 5 miles early this morning in Wake Forest and it felt GOOD. I'm just trying to keep my life simple and efficient. Here I am two weeks away from possibly getting this gorgeous medal.

Yep. Looks like I'm becoming one of "those people" (ha-ha). I think I'm going to continue this lifestyle because it makes me feel so good about the person God made.

How all is going well for you!

P.S. I'm giving away these 4 books. Please ask for 1 only when you write me at And be sure to include your mailing address. These books are in great shape and a couple have never been used.

Tuesday, April 18 

7:40 AM In yesterday's race, about 5 percent of the runners were "elite" runners. The other 95 percent were not. But they were no less runners for that reason. Ironically, the people who garner the most attention are the few favored runners who are doing only 5 percent of the work. Likewise in our churches, it's easy to develop a leader-centric paradigm in which discipleship is staff-driven. The result is a consumer culture where people think that their growth is ultimately dependent on Sunday morning sermons and Thursday evening discipleship groups. Intentional or not, the result is a church subculture in which spirituality is measured by church attendance and program allegiance. I am suggesting, not a lessened emphasis on qualified leaders in our churches, but a renewed emphasis on every member ministry wherein spiritual responsibility is transferred from leaders to Christ-followers. How can pastors help? By enabling and equipping. By celebrating "ordinary" Christians from their pulpits. By beating the drum for simple virtues like humility, prayer, faithfulness, and sacrifice. In yesterday's Boston Marathon, over 8,000 volunteers assisted the 35,000 runners to achieve their personal goals. Every person at the race counted. Likewise in our churches. We rightly place grave responsibility on our pastors. They will answer to God for their care of souls. But I wonder what would happen if we placed more expectations on the great majority of us -- mere men and women of God who have the same 24 hours in which to serve King Jesus? In the early church, every person pulled their weight. Just read Acts 2. Each was capable of a Spirit-filled life on mission with Jesus. For them, the kingdom was simple: Love God, love others. When church members are not given responsibility, they do not grow in ministry. On the other hand, when we entrust ministry to "lay" people and grant them plenty of scope for initiative, you get a church that begins to function as Paul describes in Ephesians 4 and 1 Corinthians 12. Of course, things will look less "professional" than if the vicar did all the work. But if everyone in the congregation realizes they are parts of the body, with their own special gifting, I think the whole church would begin to function in ways we can't even imagine.

Fellow "lay" person: You have so much to offer. You can raise kids who love God and serve others. You can model faithfulness to the next generation. You can open your Bible and lead a friend to Christ. You can preach peace to the poor. You can teach and admonish (Col. 3:16). You can do the "little" things that in the kingdom are never truly little. You are gifted, endued with power from on High, so loved, so permitted. Even if others make you feel invisible, God knows and sees. Embrace your gifts and callings. Serve the Lord with gladness. For great is your reward in heaven.

Monday, April 17 

7:15 PM I can't make it but I sure wish I could. It's the Paris Colloquium on the LXX Twelve Prophets. Papers include:

  • Jennifer Dines (University of Cambridge), “Design or Accident? Rhetorical touches in the Twelve, with special reference to the Book of Amos”

  • Nesina Grütter (Universität Basel), “«On ne peut pas tout avoir.» Un rapport fictif du traducteur des Douze.”

  • Takamitsu Muraoka (University of Leiden), “How did our translator of the Greek Minor Prophets cope with multiple synonyms?”

  • Adrian Schenker (Université de Fribourg), “En faveur du peuple en hébreu, des nations en grec en Am 9:12, Soph 3:8-10 : une différence textuelle?”

  • Emanuel Tov (Hebrew University of Jerusalem), “The Textual Value of the Minor Prophets in the Septuagint”

  • Myrto Theocharous (Greek Bible College, Athens), “Angelology in the Septuagint of the Twelve Prophets”

  • Alison Salvesen (University of Oxford), “Symmachus’ version of the Minor Prophets: does it arise from a theological agenda, or just from better philological understanding?”

  • Sigfried Kreuzer(Universität Wuppertal), “Stages of the Greek Text of Dodekapropheton and its Quotations in the New Testament”

This is pretty obscure stuff for most of us but pretty important stuff too. Here's hoping the papers will be published in a conference volume.

Right now I'm making my way through the translation of Amos 8.

6:38 PM The CV joint problem turned out to be a flat rear tire, which is a great relief. I put the balloon tire on the van, and then drove into town to have my flat repaired, but all of the stores were closed -- all three of them. Seems it's "Easter Monday." So I did a 5K on the track while watching the finale of the Boston Marathon live on my iPhone. The Kenyans swept, like the Ethiopians did last year. Bravo! No new course records obviously -- it was just too hot for that. The signs along the course were fabulous this year, as always. Before the race had even begun, 15 runners were disqualified, mostly because they had skipped parts of races they had used to qualify for Boston. Ugh. But on the good side, the marathon spirit was on full display today. Here Jake Morgan of San Francisco is carried to the finish line by four of his fellow runners, two of them in uniform.

Talk about camaraderie. This is the same spirit that Paul enjoins on his readers in his letter to the Philippians. We run the race of life TOGETHER. Of all the things I'm thankful for right now, it's the connection I have with friends and colleagues who are right there for me anytime I need them. And nothing has connected us and reconnected us more than honesty, than taking responsibility, than seeing our very souls as intertwined and seeing our lives as gifts we can give each other. So Happy Patriot's Day to all of you who had the courage to run in today's race. I am determined by God's grace to transform myself into the kind of man who would put the interests of my fellow runners over my own. Running taps into all the fears I have about myself. But it also holds the potential to tap into something vastly more important and beautiful.

Tomorrow morning I'll need to have my tire patched and then head back to campus for what's shaping up to be another full week. We're nearing the end of the semester. Feels like we're in the spin cycle, if you know what I mean. The amount of grace that life requires is unfathomable. Let's allow the Lord to fill our containers to the brim this week -- pushing through exhaustion like a marathoner, and wrapping our arms around each others' necks when we have to.

9:34 AM Today's the Big Day in Boston. And, for the first time in 50 years after nearly being pulled off the course due to her gender, Kathrine Switzer will be running the Boston Marathon. She's only 70.

You go, girl! The weather promises to be dry but blustery, with winds gusting up to 30 mph. 

Next, I want you to know that I just registered for the Savannah Marathon to be held on Nov. 4. I'll be my way of commemorating the fourth anniversary of Becky's Homegoing on Nov. 2, 2013. Grief is a long journey, and each step is a necessary precursor to the following one. Not sure what stage of grief I'm in, but the light grows brighter and brighter as I go. I've been drawn more deeply into the knowledge of Jesus and the mystery of the Gospel. Still, sometimes I feel like a baby learning how to crawl. I know the steak will come some day, but for now it's milk and pabulum. I thought long and hard about what I wanted to do this year on the anniversary of Becky's death. I chose the Savannah race (1) because I absolutely love that city, and (2) it's for a really great cause (and you can make a donation to it when you register for the race). This is from the race website:

St. Jude Children's Research Hospital is leading the way the world understands, treats and defeats childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases. Families never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing or food - because all a family should worry about is helping their child live. St. Jude freely shares the breakthroughs it makes, and every child saved at St. Jude means doctors and scientists worldwide can use that knowledge to save thousands more children.

I love causes like this one. I know it will take lots of work for me to train for this event, but that's a good thing. I have a will of iron, even if I'm not fast. My Map My Run app tells me I did 144.7 miles of training in the last 30 days. So I might as well keep up the pace through November if I can. Of course, there's a lot of room for this project to go south. And I've clearly got plenty of faults. But sloth isn't one of them. Or shyness. Which reminds me: If you're hurting today, say it. The path to healing often leads through confession. God uses ordinary tools. So let's go ahead address all the "stuff" in our lives. Allow yourself to be human and God to be God, and who knows what can happen.

Well, I've got tons on my TO-DO list for today. My lawn mower won't start. My truck battery is dead. And my van threw a CV joint yesterday on the drive home from DC and I'm taking it into the Honda dealership. Thankfully, they've a got a loaner car I can use, otherwise I'd not be able to make it to campus this week. Yes, I'm looking at a trade in. Go figure. My 2006 Odyssey has 206,000 miles on it. I'm not sure where I'll get my new van, but I've heard some really good things about Carvana.

7:20 AM Our Philippians passage today is 1:18b-26. Good leaders are always self-critical. They regularly assess their motives and methods, their goals and aspirations. We need people in the church who will constantly be asking themselves, "Am I in God's will?" This seems to be the main emphasis of this passage. Paul's torn between two goals. He wants to depart and be with Christ, "which is better by far." For him, dying is a positive thing, a plus, not a minus. In the unforgettable words of 1:21, "For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain." Evangelicals are often accused of being too heavenly-minded. We are much better at personal ethics than social ethics. Of course, life is short, and we can't do everything. But there's no need to choose between being fully involved in the here-and-now and aspiring to be with the Lord in heaven. There can be no doubt that Paul regarded going to heaven as something positive. Yet he was still very much interested in remaining on earth, and his reasoning was as follows: "If I hang around here, this means fruitful labor for me. I can continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith." There he goes again -- always putting others' needs before his own! The supreme reason why the Lord allows us to remain on this earth is to glorify Him by serving others. In other words, when Paul says, "For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain," he is really saying, "For to me to live means serving others, and to die is gain." Our Lord put it this way: "For even the Son of Man didn't come to be served, but to serve and to give His life a ransom for many." (Thanks for the idea, Jesus!) So while we're struggling with finances and sick children and sour relationships we're also thinking about, praying for, sharing Jesus with, spending time with, and sharing our worldly goods with other people. Where self-indulgence once resided, Jesus takes up residence. This concept is sooooo hard to grasp in a self-serving culture like ours. But the world is watching us. Our kids and grandkids are watching us. Time is flying by. Are we willing?

Sunday, April 16 

7:20 PM Happy Resurrection-Day, folks! I am truly blessed. I am. I spent the weekend in DC visiting my daughter Karen who lives there. I stayed at an Airbnb that was right next to Rock Creek Park.

I didn't have to walk more than 100 yards to reach the most fantastic series of running trails I think I've ever seen. I spent over an hour running in the park yesterday morning and put 5.5 miles on my Garmin. Perfect! You can see how the trail meanders through the hills of the park.

There are both paved trails and dirt ones. I opted to stay on the paved trails because I didn't want to ruin my marathon chances by tripping on a tree root and tumbling into Rock Creek -- not this close to Cincy! I enjoy running in nature soooo much. The beauty is breathtaking. This picture doesn't begin to do it justice.

As I was finishing up my run, I really put it into high gear. I could hear by-passers saying out loud, "Look at that guy run. I bet he's a professional athlete." Okay. So that didn't happen. But they MUST have been thinking that because that's the thought that was bouncing around in my brain!

Anyhow ....

The night before, I had arrived in DC totally wasted from my drive. I had gotten caught in traffic and was in no mood to do anything except go to sleep. But eat I had to, and I saw there was a local Ethiopian place called the Nile Restaurant nearby. I drove there thinking I'll just grab a quick bite and go to bed. An hour and a half later I was still yakking with the Ethiopians there. We had such a blast -- just like old times in Addis. They got a copy of Becky's book and joked and smiled and giggled and patted me on the back when they saw all those pics of Becky as a kid growing up in Hosanna and Burji.

Last night I took Karen there because everyone just HAD to meet her. They were so excited to see her that they did a coffee ceremony for us and actually served us an Ethiopian delicacy called Fandisha (pop corn). Prior to that I drove over to Karen's place. We were both starved so we ate some tasty lamb at a nearby Greek restaurant.

Then we rode the Metro to Ford's Theater in downtown DC.

The hit musical Ragtime was playing and we were both eager to see it. I am about to go crazy trying to describe to you what a phenomenal performance we witnessed. We sat right under the "presidential box" -- the exact spot where Abraham Lincoln was murdered almost exactly 152 years ago to the day.

As for the musical itself -- what's NOT to love about it? The actors/singers were magnificent. The orchestra was incredible. And the story line couldn't have been more relevant. The musical is based on E. L. Doctorow's book about immigrants to America and their fight for racial and religious justice in the first two decades of the 20th century. I won't spoil the plot for you -- that's because you HAVE to see Ragtime in person -- but just about every major dramatic theme is present in this play -- romance, race, class, gender inequity, you name it. The show is a mindboggling potpourri of contemporary issues matched only by an enormous 3-story scaffold.

In my opinion, the show-stopper was Kevin McAllister, who plays Coalhouse Walker, a pianist who transports the audience into every conceivable human emotion, including anger, joy, sorrow, shame, rage -- again, you name it. The dark side of our "American experiment" is explored in a way that's both honest and without being pedantic. See it you must!

Today, after visiting Karen's home church in Anacostia, I drove back from DC and, as usual, took country roads and back lanes.

It's a longer drive that way, but I simply had to get off I-95, which was a (barely) moving parking lot. Besides, this is Amurca, folks! The land of the free(ways) and the home of the crazed.

Here's to DC!!!!


P.S. Yes, this picture is true.

Do you think I can do it? It's scary and hard and incredibly challenging. But runners don't just run; they run unapologetically.

So ...

Cincy, in 21 days, HERE I COME!!!

Friday, April 14 

7:56 AM Phil. 1:15-18a is a parenthesis. A what? A parenthesis in grammar is a remark or passage that departs from the main theme of the discourse. You can call it a digression if you like (though the latter term has a slightly different connotation). I just made a parenthetical remark, by the way. So, then, in Phil. 15-18a Paul offers his readers an aside. He says in passing that he rejoices that the Gospel is being proclaimed even by people who are opposing him out of personal animosity. Who cares? Ti gar! The only thing that matters is that Christ is being proclaimed, and in this I rejoice!

When you were young, did your parents ever tell you, "Watch the tone of your voice"? Sometimes it's not what we say that's wrong. It's the way we say it. Paul's is prison. He's facing possible execution. What's more, not everybody there likes him. He could have grumped, griped, complained, and made life miserable for himself and for all those around him. Instead, he looked at the bright side of everything. Even when he's pointing out selfishness and impure motives (as he's doing here), he does it with a tone of grace and kindness. It doesn't mean it lessons the seriousness of the problem. It just means we don't have to add to the problem by the way we speak.

By the way, in case you didn't see the connection, Paul is again "telegraphing" to his readers (us included) that in this letter he is going to deal directly with the problem of disunity in the church (see 4:2-3). Disunity occurs when we "look out for our own interests rather than the interests of others" and when we "esteem ourselves as being more important than others" (2:3-4). The antidote for our self-centeredness is, of course, a good dose of tapeinophrosune -- "lowliness of mind" (2:3). Today, I can choose to be other-centered. I can choose to forgive that relative who has hurt me. I can choose to be patient rather than fly off the handle. I can choose to pray more and wimp less. I can choose to be like Jesus: generous and loyal. Let's pinky promise today -- you and me -- that we're really going to make an effort to listen to the people in our lives. That we'll be slow to speak and quick to hear. I pray that the Holy will invade our lives today, that we would see (as Paul did) where God is hiding in plain sight in our lives, that even when we feel taken advantage of we will remember that we are the chief of sinners.

The Gospel is more important than people's motives. If our inner monologue is constantly negative toward those who don't act and think the way we do, it's time to move back to grace. Isn't that what Paul is saying?

It's true that some here preach Christ because with me out of the way, they think they'll step right into the spotlight. But the others do it with the best heart in the world. One group is motivated by pure love, knowing that I am here defending the Message, wanting to help. The others, now that I'm out of the picture, are merely greedy, hoping to get something out of it for themselves. Their motives are bad. They see me as their competition, and so the worse it goes for me, the better—they think—for them.

So how am I to respond? I've decided that I really don't care about their motives, whether mixed, bad, or indifferent. Every time one of them opens his mouth, Christ is proclaimed, so I just cheer them on!

It will take me an entire year to fathom the depths of what Paul just said. I absolutely understand why we would criticize people who are hoping to take advantage of our misfortune. But it's sadly possible to bend the universe too sharply toward our own feelings. I suspect that the real culprit is our failure to unpack the root motives behind our own actions. Love God and serve Him. Really, nothing else matters. If you are ever unsure how to treat other people, just remember how Jesus treated us. He loved us even when we despised Him. This gives me such comfort. It also reminds me that I never -- never! -- have to compare myself with anyone else. Play the "Gospel competition" game? You can have it!

Coming up: "For me to live is Christ and to die is gain."

Thursday, April 13 

11:02 AM Nope, no pain this morning, no soreness even. I felt so good I drove to the Y and did a strenuous workout with free weights. Afterwards my legs were begging me for some exercise, even though they had been put through the ringer yesterday. So off we went (my legs and me) to the track, where I performed a sauntering stroll for an hour and a half and put 5 and a half miles on my new Garmin. While walking I was able to write several emails and make several important phone calls. Now why didn't I think of this sooner???

Honestly, I think walking has to be one of my spiritual gifts. It comes naturally to me. I think I could walk forever. Hmm. Maybe there's an ultra walking event I could enter? Probably not. Running, on the other hand .... It's not so much a spiritual gift as a spiritual challenge. Nevertheless, I have a great time running. My calves are YUUGE. Anyway, I've got to cook lunch and dinner and then get back to mowing. The day is PURFECT for being outdoors!

7:14 AM New book, free for the asking (

7:10 AM Great feeling!

6:50 AM Scattershooting....

1) Greatly enjoyed listening to Matthew Harmon's sermon on Phil. 1:27-30. It's entitled Citizens of God's Kingdom.

2) Speaking of Philippians, be sure to check out William Varner's Philippians Facebook entries.

3) Coming April 19. Should be good.

4) Joshua Covert is learning theological German.

5) Loved this!

6:12 AM In Phil. 1:14-16, Paul has moved from the letter opening (1:1-2) to the body opening (1:3-11) and now to the body proper. It's a significant advance -- think of moving from your introduction to your thesis statement and then to the main body of your term paper. The first part of the letter body (1:12-2:30) contains the theme of the letter. Here the main argument of Philippians comes into particular focus: the need for unity and an end to factionalism. The chiastic structure  of this section sets it apart from the rest of the letter:

A News about Paul's imprisonment (1:12-26)

       B Instructions for the church (1:27-2:18)

A' News about Paul's companions (2:19-30)

Section B is clearly the focus. Here Paul begins his exhortation to the church. Note, however, how sections A and A' bracket the central section of the letter. These biographical sections do more than provide information. They take the theme of unity for the sake of the Gospel and exemplify it in the lives of Paul, Timothy, and Epaphroditus. Take Paul, for example. In 1:12-14 he explains to his friends in Philippi how his imprisonment has (unexpectedly) worked out the way he wanted it to: the Gospel is being preached by all kinds of people, and he rejoices. Paul is showing us that he lived for one purpose and one alone: the advancement of the Good News. As long as the Gospel is making progress, he is content, even in prison. I might entitle this section "The Gospel Is Not Chained."

So what to make of all this?

Although it's a bit reductive, I categorize most Christians as either missional or not. In general, people trend toward one circle of the Venn diagram or the other. One guess which way Dave and Becky leaned. Listen, life is not about homeschooling or agrarian living or elder-led congregationalism, all of which I think are pretty nifty. Can I tell you my goal in life? To seek to work with other Christians to advance the kingdom. And believe me, there are people doing a lot better at this than I am. They're parents who are refusing to raise tiny narcissists who think everything revolves around their needs. They're unknown and unrecognized pastors who are marching to a different drummer and could care less about fleeting fame and superstardom (and, I might add, church tradition). They're believers whose marriages waste no energy trying to keep up with the Joneses; they are simply two imperfect people who love representing a perfect Savior. Why, they even endure hardship and suffering for the sake of others.

Doesn't that sound like a wonderful relief from the me-me, I-I culture in which we live? If it does, we have Paul to thank, at least in part. Life really is that simple -- a pure kingdom life lived in ordinary ways by ordinary people with Gospel intentionality. Even regular old sinners like me can participate in this grass-roots movement. God is big enough and good enough to lead us into a Gospel-centered lifestyle, and together we just might see His kingdom breaking into earth.

Wednesday, April 12 

5:24 PM Hooray! I finished my 20-mile workout today. It went pretty well, really. I did the walk-run method. The trail I used is a 2 and a half mile crushed gravel out-and-back in South Boston, VA. Which means the total distance is 5 miles. Today I decided to do four of these non-stop and back-to-back, totaling 20 miles.

My walk-to-run ratio was approximately 1:1, which means that I either (1) speed walked for 2 and a half miles then ran for 2 and a half miles, or (2) speed walked for one mile and then ran one mile. You can really tell how much the intensity of my workout changed from activity to activity.

When I got to the 13.1 mile mark (= the distance of a half marathon), I looked at my Garmin and it read 2:49:50. Round that off to 2 hours and 50 minutes and then multiply it by two and you get 5 hours and 40 minutes -- well within the 7-hour time limit they give you in Cincy. Of course, I know I won't be able to run the second half of the race as fast as the first half, but still, these stats give me hope. After my workout I treated myself to Mexican food (again!) and then took an hour nap. So what's next? Back to the Y tomorrow for more work with weights, and then I'll do some cross training with my bike. In the meantime, I'm seeing the positives of working out so much and so regularly. I need to get in good shape for surfing August 3-11 in Hawaii, and then climbing Mt. Elbert in September (the highest of the 14ers in the Rockies). Soon it will be time for my half in Petersburg. So watch this space. I'll update it with reports as time goes on. Hopefully I'll be ready when the marathon gun sounds.

Can't wait!

7:54 AM Good morning, fellow language geeks! A Greek prof reads a book with an eye on grammar and usage. That's just the way I'm wired. So when I saw the following while reading Newt Gingrich's fascinating novel Gettysburg, I had to stop and cogitate. The context is Union General Henry Hunt's arrival at the camp of his commander, George Meade.

He caught the eye of a staff officer and asked directions. A tent pitched at the edge of a peach orchard was pointed out.

I suppose I was struck, first, by the use of the passive voice in the second sentence. Such usage breaks one of the most hallowed rules of English composition:

The passive voice is to be avoided.

(Note: This rule ranks right up there with "Prepositions are not words to end sentences with," and "Always avoid the apt art of alliteration.") Why not just say, "The officer pointed to a tent pitched at the edge of a peach orchard"? Language, after all, should be as kosher as Mazor's dough. Not for nothing I tell my Greek students that we are going to learn the entire active verb system before we delve into the middle and passive -- which is exactly what my beginning grammar does. The idea is to go from the most common to the least common constructions in Greek.

Why, then, would an author use the passive voice? The answer seems to coalesce around the idea of emphasis. The active voice is the norm. No special attention is called to the grammatical subject. But with the middle and passive voices, this seems to be turned on its kop. (Sorry, I've got Yiddish on my mind.) Changing the voice perhaps makes us wonder why Meade's tent is pitched at the edge of a peach orchard and not in the center of the encampment. For some reason, Newt apparently thought this point important enough to "break the rules." In the Greek New Testament, we don't find "Blessed are those who mourn, for God will comfort them." Instead, we find "Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted [by God]." I'm pretty sure this is intentional. I can say, "Let us forget the past," but I can also say "The past should be forgotten." There's a difference, verdad? Or take, "An error has occurred" -- a confession of wrong doing on my part. Am I possibly trying to avoid saying something here?

One final New Testament example (3 John 12):

Demetrius has received a good report from everyone (ISV).

Everyone speaks well of Demetrius (GNT).

Such literary emphasis is quite common in the New Testament. Of course, I may be reading too much into a grammatical construction. (It wouldn't be the first time.) Then too, the passive voice may be used for reasons other than emphasis, as when the person performing the action is unknown or unimportant. But it seems to me that every writer -- Newt included -- "reinvents" his or her own idiolect when writing. And they often feel free to break the "rules" of grammar when they feel like it. (I'm referring to writing here. The rules of spoken English are another story.) So remember: Every act of reading is a quest (even when it's not). Why, just yesterday on this blog I wrote a sentence filled with ambiguity. It was not intentional on my part, of course, but see if you can detect it:

152 years ago today, Abraham Lincoln gave his last speech from the north portico of the White House.

What I meant to say was:

152 years ago today, from the north portico of the White House, Abraham Lincoln gave his last speech.

I hesitate to state what should be obvious. Not writing clearly doesn't make you a bad writer. That said, anyone who wants to write in public needs to be aware of grammar.

And with that I'm off and running.

Tuesday, April 11 

7:04 PM Here's what I looked like when I began to run today. Just two flat Hawaiian luau feet with ugly toenails ensconced in a pair of simple running shoes.

But who cares? Every time I think about Becky and the privilege I have of raising funds for cancer research in her memory I get tears in my eyes. Out of something horrific God is bringing something good. Other blogs have spread the story (you know who you are -- thanks a million times over!). If it feels right to you, please blog about my marathon and let me know. This run symbolizes something much bigger than any one of us. I hope we can come together and make a huge dent in endometrial cancer. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for caring so much about Becky and about me running in her honor. Much love to all of you.

Here's the link to my Piggin' Out for a Cancer Cure.

6:22 PM Miscellany ....

1) More on the "re-accommodation" heard around the world.

2) America is two nations. Many of us live in both.

3) Did Jesus really say, "Father, forgive them ...."? This author says no

4) Christians who don't go to church. "I'm not a Christian, but a Christ-follower." What do you think?

5) The pro-life argument that needs to die. Jordan Standridge nails it.

12:58 PM Hello! Hope you're having a great week so far. First off, a huge thank you and shout out to the South Boston DMV. I had to get a new license plate for my truck and I tell you, the service today was both efficient and friendly. A tip of the kepi to all yall! Then I ran 5 miles at the Tobacco Heritage Trail in SoBo. I would have kept on going but the sun was hot and I had forgotten my sun screen. It's just as well. I'll let today be an easy day, because either tomorrow or Thursday I plan to do my nonstop 20-miler at the same place. I'll be better prepared, though: Vaseline, sun screen, and lots of bottled water planted in strategic places along the course. I've convinced myself that if I can do 13.1 miles, I can do 20 miles. And if I can do 20 miles, hopefully on race day I can complete 26.2 miles. I tell you, it was gorgeous out there today. I'm really surprised I didn't get a scenery gawker injury. Right now I have a pretty bad case of imposter syndrome. You're not a real runner, Dave, so why are you even thinking about competing in a marathon? There's no possible way you'll survive! Then the angel on my right shoulder whispers in my ear: "You've worked hard for this, Dave, and you deserve it. You can reach your goals, buddy, and don't let anybody tell you otherwise." So there you have it. My name isn't Thomas, but I'm quite a doubter. Well, tomorrow or the next day it's my super long run. Then next week I'll taper to 15 miles. Then next weekend it's a 13.1 mile half marathon in Petersburg.

Then I'm going to Cincy!

8:22 AM 152 years ago today, Abraham Lincoln gave his last speech from the north portico of the White House. It was, some say, the speech that got him killed. After applauding the army and navy, he defended his policies on amnesty and reconstruction, expressing his desire for reunion to proceed swiftly. He called for a national day of thanksgiving. In passing, he also endorsed black suffrage, at which point John Wilkes Both, standing in the audience, uttered his now famous words: "That is the last speech he will ever make." Three days later, the president was dead.

You can listen to Lincoln's entire speech here.

7:55 AM I'll confess to you that I'm blown away by the structure of Phil. 1:9-11, our next paragraph in this marvelous book. I think it's time for the church to start leaning into the "now" of the kingdom of heaven more than we ever have before. That will be Paul's theme when he gets to 1:27-30, where we have the letter's first verb in the mood of direct command: "The only thing in life that matters is that you live as good citizens of heaven according to the pattern of the Gospel." But even here, in the letter opening, we see yet more hints of what kingdom living looks life. 

First of all, it looks like the bride of Christ, filled with love for one another, making light dance in our lives like dry bones coming alive again. Paul prays that their love might increase yet more and more. Abounding love -- love for God yes, but that's not enough. We must also love each other. You'll recall that this is a deeply divided church, polarized around two women whom Paul actually names in 4:2. Believers were backbiting, and the backbiting was leaving deep teeth marks. We see glimpses of this divided spirit in our own churches today, do we not? It drifts like smoke through a darkened room, taking our breath away. Believers though we are, we are still sinners, capable of envy and pride and a host of other sins that Paul describes in 2:2-4. We realize, oh God, we need You. Thus Paul "prays" -- he turns to God. The hina ("in order that") introduces the content of Paul's prayer, which can be divided into petition ("that your love may keep on abounding yet more and more," v. 9), purpose (a twofold one at that, both near and remote: "that you may choose what is of greatest importance in life," and "that you may be pure and blameless on that day when Jesus Christ returns," v. 10), and provision ("seeing that you have already been filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ our Lord," v. 11). If I may quote my Novum Testamentum essay, "Thus Paul's prayer in 1:9-11 borders on exhortation in that it encapsulates his purpose in writing: to encourage the Philippians toward greater unity and amity." This is what God intends for us. This is what the church is to be moving toward each and every day. We were made for this life of mutual love. And note: Love is not self-produced. It's simply the "fruit" of abiding in Christ. Only He can rescue us from our tendency to put ourselves first and others last.

By the way, I don't think we give Paul enough credit for his tactfulness here. As we've seen, the main argument of the letter is the need for unity around the Gospel and the end to factionalism. It's this issue that Paul addresses directly in 4:2-3. But there he builds on points already proven. In admonishing his readers in 1:27 to live as worthy citizens of a heavenly commonwealth, Paul makes it clear that this means first and foremost standing firm and struggling with one soul for the faith of the Gospel.

Together. In love.

Now that's radical. I think my discovery of the difference between "believer" and "disciple" has changed me forever. It's given me a new direction for my life. The kingdom of God is now my work and the work of every follower of Jesus. Our lives -- yours and mine -- are prophesying the kingdom of heaven right now by entering into the very heart and mystery of our faith, the mystery of the Christ who surrendered His rights to live out the kingdom in extravagant, furious love. That's the kind of movement I want to join. Love is a force that burns away everything that stands in the way of being truly human at last. When I think of the Gospel now I think not merely of forensic justification (though I will never surrender that truth) but also of moving with God in His mission to rescue and restore and redeem. The kingdom is already and not yet. There's a tension between these two realities. We live in a very fallen world, but we can still live our lives as if the kingdom was already here, as if it's already come, because in a sense it has, and it is the loving bride of Christ that breathes new life into this doctrine.

A couple of final things.

1) You can listen to me reading Philippians in Greek here.

2) Here's the structure of our paragraph:

Paul Prays for the Philippians


        Purpose (twofold)


Καὶ τοῦτο προσεύχομαι

    ἵνα ἡ ἀγάπη ὑμῶν ἔτι μᾶλλον καὶ μᾶλλον περισσεύῃ ἐν ἐπιγνώσει καὶ πάσῃ αἰσθήσει

         εἰς τὸ δοκιμάζειν ὑμᾶς τὰ διαφέροντα

         ἵνα ἦτε εἰλικρινεῖς καὶ ἀπρόσκοποι εἰς ἡμέραν Χριστοῦ

               πεπληρωμένοι καρπὸν δικαιοσύνης τὸν διὰ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ εἰς δόξαν καὶ ἔπαινον θεοῦ.

Monday, April 10 

6:14 PM Farm life can be dull. It can be monotonous. But for those very reasons it's never tiresome. Bored you'll never be. You circle around the seasons, waiting for summer to come, or perhaps winter (if you like snow). Boredom is not an option, however. In the spring you mow the grass.

It's a monotonous task, yet it's never boring. That's because it gets you outside, back into nature, like a vagabond or a lost highwayman. Mowing becomes a communion with the Creator, a contemplation of the landscape. It restores you like the calm of sleep. For all around is peace and solitude.

Mowing. Ahh.

1:02 PM I think a big part of running is being able to track your distance, speed, pace, etc. Well, today I tried out my new Garmin 35 for the first time. To say I was pleased with it would be an understatement. It doesn't look enormous and is very comfortable on your arm. I love the square face, the wrist-based heart rate monitor, the black band, the digital watch feature, the data fields it offers, the easy-to-use charging cable, and the fact that I can sync it to my Map My Run app. It also connected to the satellite in no time to provide an easy-to-read map. I don't really care much for the side buttons, which can be awkward to use. I can't say how the battery life is, since this is my first day using it, but I'll let you know. I don't plan on wearing it except when I'm working out so I don't imagine the battery will be an issue, even when running a marathon. For an intermediate runner like me, it certainly does the job and is a very nice complement to my MMR app.

Today I lifted at the Y, then biked for 5 miles and ran for 5. Below are some of the Garmin features based on my run. You can see that I really slowed down during miles 2 and 3 because of shin splints. Afterwards I got a "Vulcanito" at Mexico Viejo for a mere $5.50 -- and even got two meals out of it. Off to take a power nap, and then it's time to mow!

8:02 AM I'm now registered for the Petersburg Half Marathon on April 22! It should fit perfectly into my tapering program. The course takes runners through Battlefield Park where a live reenactment will be underway. Just think: If I poop out, I can always "take a hit" and find a shady tree to lie under. Between now and then, no new shoes, new socks, new clothes, new diet. The countdown is on!

7:32 AM Our next paragraph in Philippians is 1:3-8. It follows the opening salutation (1:1-2), where Paul has already telegraphed to us his theme: "Unity in the Gospel through Humility." I'd entitle 1:3-8, "The Necessity of Sharing in the Work of the Gospel." In other words, just as Paul and Timothy are partners in the Gospel, so they and the Philippians are to be partners. As Christians, all of us are to be "Together for the Gospel" (to borrow a phrase that's popular today in certain circles). Here Paul moves from non-verbal material in 1:1-2 (verbless clauses) to the letter's first verb, eucharisto. The parallelism between 1:3-8 and 1:9-11 indicates a close connection between these two paragraphs and separates them from the section that follows. If 1:1-2 comprise the letter opening, 1:3-11 comprise the body opening. It's as simple as that.

Εὐχαριστῶ τῷ θεῷ μου ἐπὶ πάσῃ τῇ μνείᾳ ὑμῶν, πάντοτε ἐν πάσῃ δεήσει μου ὑπὲρ πάντων ὑμῶν, μετὰ χαρᾶς τὴν δέησιν ποιούμενος, ἐπὶ τῇ κοινωνίᾳ ὑμῶν εἰς τὸ εὐαγγέλιον ἀπὸ τῆς πρώτης ἡμέρας ἄχρι τοῦ νῦν, πεποιθὼς αὐτὸ τοῦτο, ὅτι ὁ ἐναρξάμενος ἐν ὑμῖν ἔργον ἀγαθὸν ἐπιτελέσει ἄχρι ἡμέρας Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ· Καθώς ἐστιν δίκαιον ἐμοὶ τοῦτο φρονεῖν ὑπὲρ πάντων ὑμῶν διὰ τὸ ἔχειν με ἐν τῇ καρδίᾳ ὑμᾶς, ἔν τε τοῖς δεσμοῖς μου καὶ ἐν τῇ ἀπολογίᾳ καὶ βεβαιώσει τοῦ εὐαγγελίου συγκοινωνούς μου τῆς χάριτος πάντας ὑμᾶς ὄντας. μάρτυς γάρ μου ὁ θεὸς ὡς ἐπιποθῶ πάντας ὑμᾶς ἐν σπλάγχνοις Χριστοῦ Ἰησοῦ. 

The main theme of 1:3-8 may be stated as follows: "I thank God that you, Philippians, are faithful partners with me in the Gospel." Later, Paul will use the same language of "partnership" to describe the agreement that existed between him and the Philippians in terms of "giving and receiving" -- an obvious reference to the sharing of financial resources (4:15). Significantly, this reference to the sharing of one's material goods -- an important aspect of Christian unity -- relates not only to the body opening (1:3-11) but to the body closing (4:10-20), and thus argues against dividing the letter into two or three different and unrelated epistles.

Thank you, Paul, for being so clear!

I clearly hadn't always thought this way about the Gospel. For me, missions was putting money in an offering plate. Then I realized that Jesus was saying, "Dave, YOU go. YOU get involved personally." So I flipped a switch. 17 trips to Ethiopia since 2004. 13 trips to Asia in the past 7 years. Honestly, I just decided to serve other people, especially where the needs seemed to be the greatest. I still have space for self-improvement. Lots of space. But this one thing I've decided: We can't go a mile wide and an inch deep in terms of church planting. If the church at large can use my teaching and equipping gifts, I'm ready to offer them, gratis.

Dear church: partnering in the Gospel is noble, necessary work. May we come alongside the body of Christ in whatever country (our own included) and ask, "Good brother, good sister, how can I help you?"

Sunday, April 9 

8:30 PM The good people over at Map My Run are so encouraging. (Yes, I know. They're also a business and eager to make money for Under Armour.) They just sent me my first quarter stats.

While I haven't exactly been dragging my feet, I'm wondering if I'm working hard enough to prepare for Cincy.

I'm off to the gym tomorrow to work out with weights (as I usually do on Mondays), and I'll probably run some as well. I took today off after a grueling week and weekend. How often should I run this week? How far should I go? What pace should I average? I hate these kinds of decisions. But honestly -- what a total honor to be doing this for cancer research. If you've run a marathon, any thoughts or insights would be welcome.

Well, enough blogging for one day. I'm signing off. I'll close with a picture of Ulysses S. Grant's great-great-grandson, whom I had the privilege of meeting today in Appomattox. Boy the stories he told!

7:54 PM Hey folks! Living history is one thing our National Park Service does really well. It's interesting that April 9, 1865, when Lee surrendered to Grant at Appomattox Court House, was Palm Sunday, as it was today (for only the seventh time since 1865). Care to take a journey with me today to this historic site?

1) A bright and sunny day welcomed about 3,000 guests to the park.

2) The surrender occurred in the parlor of the McLean House.

3) Then ...

4) ... and now.

5) The federal encampment. Brought back memories of 25 years of reenacting.

6) Chatting with the colonel of the 2nd U.S. Cavalry. I once rode with the 1st Maine.

7) A period sutler selling his goods.

8) Live fire demonstration. The kids loved it.

9) The county jail.

10) Grant with his staff.

11) And Lee with his.

12) Blue and gray on the McLean House steps.

13) Grant was magnanimous.

Lee, for his part, told his men to go home and be as good citizens as they had been soldiers. The healing had begun.

14) Grant set up a printing press in town to facilitate paroles for the Southern troops.

15) The stacking of arms.

16) The actual surrendering of arms took place the next day, April 10. It took 6 hours and 30 minutes to complete.


17) Louis, my server at El Cazador in Appomattox, with a copy of Becky's memoir in Spanish.

Few places evoke such emotions as Appomattox Court House. The surrender that took place there exactly 152 years ago today was but the first act in a long national journey that continues still. Thanks for sharing it with me.

8:18 AM Should Greek and Hebrew students use an interlinear? That's the question posed to me (again) over at the B & H Academic Blog when I read my dear friend and colleague Scott Kellum's essay about improving one's use of the biblical languages. He's been waging a "mini-war" against the use of interlinears, and cites Con Campbell (of Trinity International University) in his defense: Burn them! (Note: I found the link to Scott's excellent essay while perusing the Nerdy Language Majors site, which I mentioned the other day as being a completely wonderful resource for language students.) For what it's worth, I'll throw in my drachma. The ultimate proof for this Greek prof that interlinears are useful is that I've used them to my great advantage over the years -- and still do. Yes, there's an ugly underbelly to any tool we can use in biblical studies. But as I noted in my book Using New Testament Greek in Ministry, "Halitosis is better than no breath at all." Now, when I was in seminary in the 1970s, it was a different world from today. The "helps" we used were all written in things called books, to wit, Rienecker and Rogers' Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament or Sakae Kubo's Reader's Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament. Today, of course, there's Logos and Bible Hub and Bible Gateway and La Parola and the Reader's Greek New Testament. Even Bill Mounce (no schlep when it comes to Greek) published an ingenious Reverse-Interlinear New Testament. And should we overlook Con's own colleague, the librarian at TIU, whose comments on the use of interlinears are hardly of the book-burning variety? I taught myself all of the languages I know (except Hebrew and Greek) from a book. I recall teaching myself Latin and finding an interlinear of Caesar's Commentaries on the Gallic War. It was love at first sight. The publisher wrote: "The interlinear is admittedly the student's most effective aid in translating the classics."

I can say a hearty "Amen" to that. Aid or crutch? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder I reckon. My thinking is that interlinears are ideal for language learners who have a modicum of knowledge about the language they're learning but don't yet have the vocabulary to easily read the literature in that language. With a tongue like German, where the word order can be crazy at times, I'd argue that an interlinear is not only helpful but indispensable. Try this one on for size:

As for the New Testament, here's Mark 1:1 in Bible-Hub-ese.

Personally, I think such interlinears are a very good way for beginning-intermediate language learners to become independent readers of a language. Even if you're a bit more advanced you will still find them helpful, especially if you've become rusty. You'll learn an incredible amount of vocabulary in an incredibly short time. Once you know the basic rules, rapid reading is a pretty good way to expand your vocabulary and knowledge of grammar.

Dear reader, become a language warrior. Fight to retain (and improve) your reading knowledge of Hebrew and Greek. And believe you me: it's a battle. Sometimes things get a little rough, so be patient with yourself. My best advice is to use whichever helps you find useful. I guess all of us profs have different techniques that work for us when we're teaching, but interlinears work well for me. Maybe start your own reading group like the one my assistant Noah Kelley is doing this summer with my students who have completed a year of Greek. This will require, of course, your hottest commodity: time. So decide to give it. Create space for language acquisition and mastery. And remember: this is sacred work. It counts. Take Scott's suggestions to heart. And if you end up using an interlinear in the process, I promise I won't tell him.

Saturday, April 8 

8:55 PM "It's time to taper, Dave." That thought ran through my mind as I sat on the front porch this evening with Sheba, sipping a glass of white wine (well, sparkling grape juice) and watching the sunset.

This week I need to get one last long run in -- a 20-miler. Then it's taper time. I'll begin shortening my runs. I'll do one medium run a week. I'll try and do everything at a relaxed pace. I'll also need to be sure I'm getting enough protein in my diet -- eggs, meat, dairy, soy products. Reducing weight training is also a good idea. The goal is to minimize accumulated fatigue. Or so I'm told. Hey, I've never done this before.

While I was sipping my grape juice I was also looking online for my next half marathon. I'm torn between the Bryce Half in Utah (July 8) and the Chicago Half (July 16). The nice thing about Chicago is its flat course. The nice thing about Bryce is that you run through some of the most beautiful scenery in all of North America. Plus, the race is mostly downhill. Well, I don't need to decide right away. Age is catching up with me, folks, but I'm not ready to throw in the towel yet.

6:32 PM Working through Philippians in my wonderful Greek New Testament.

(Note: Never write in your Bible. But if you do, might as well go overboard.) Here's my paragraph title for 1:1-2: "Servants and Saints." In teaching this passage one might focus on the following:

1) Introduce Paul ("Little") and Timothy ("God-honorer"), as well as the Philippians (can you guess how that could be over-translated?).

2) Note Paul's use of douloi ("servants," "slaves") instead of his usual word "apostle."

3) Introduce the theme of the book: "Unity in the Cause of the Gospel."  

4) Note how hints of this theme are seen even in this opening salutation:

Paul includes Timothy as an equal "greeter/sender."

Paul writes to ALL of the believers in Philippi, regardless of which "side" of the controversy they're on (see 4:2).

Paul mentions their leaders in such a way as to emphasis that they are extensions of the church ("along with the overseers and deacons") and not over the church ("under the overseers and deacons"). Shepherds are still sheep!

5) Note that both "overseers" and "deacons" lack the article in Greek, perhaps emphasizing not their titles but their activities ("those who oversee and serve").

If you're teaching through Philippians, please feel free to use my Power Point on the letter's structure and also consult my essay on the same topic. This book is structured fabulously, you have no idea. When I first saw it I heard the angels singing.



5:30 PM Hey mates! This morning my son-in-law Joel and I drove to Cary to participate in the Cary Road Race 5K. It was a great event and we enjoyed it tremendously. My official time was 30:19 so I'm pretty chuffed. (Don't you love the English language?) There were a total of 533 participants -- 287 in the 10K, and 246 in the 5K. I finished 125/246 in the 5K and third place in my age group. I'm probably in the best condition I've ever been in but I'm always surprised at how grueling a 5K race is, especially when you're giving it your all. It's pretty hard not to feel enthusiastic after a race like today's. Joel did super great for his first 5K and I think he liked the experience. You're the best, son! Here are a few pix with some commentary for all of you running nerds out there:

1) We arrived at the race site in Cary a half hour before gun time for the 5K, which worried me a little, as it gave us barely enough time to get our race bibs and warm up. As you can see, the parking lot was FULL.

2) Here's Joel getting his first-ever racing bib. He told me he had three goals today: to finish, to enjoy himself, and to learn. I tell you, he was stoked. Reminded me of my first race. :-)

3) The perfunctory pre-race photo.

I told Joel we'd both feel a few aches and pains after the race. But hey -- it's either stay in bed on a Saturday morning or get out and run. The former option is always tempting, but the latter option will have you feeling better in the long run (pardon the pun).

4) Here's the starting line. For some reason that was never explained to us, the race was delayed for about 15 minutes. It was difficult to just stand there. These young dudes were chafing to get going!

5) A lot of people scoff at the idea of entering a 5K. Not Joel. Here he is crossing the finish line. Joel: I think your life just changed forever!

6) Then it was time to drive to Red Robin and grab a burger with fries. Yes, that's a Pepsi I'm drinking, the sinner that I am. It tasted SOOOO GOOD!

Those are today's highlights. I think Joel is gonna blog about today's race, and if he does I'll link to his post here. I really like the quote, "Run with your heart, not your legs." Joel gave it his whole heart today, and I somehow suspect it will not be the last time he races with me.

7:02 AM Alice in Wonderland with some wonderful racing advice:

Begin at the beginning and go on 'til you come to the end; then stop.

Hmm. Think I'll try that today.

6:45 AM My view right now. Yep. A great day to run. 

6:40 AM Message to everyone doing their first 5K this weekend:

You are a runner.

You are a runner because you ran.

In order to be a runner you don't have to earn a degree.

Or apply for a license.

Or pass a test.

Or give an oath.

You ran. That's good enough.

You're now an official member of the running community.

Welcome to the 'hood.

Friday, April 7 

6:25 PM Today my goal was 20 miles. I got 15 of them in at the High Bridge Trail in Farmville, and I plan to finish the last 5 this evening. 2017 has gotten off to a great start in terms of running goals as far as I'm concerned. Sure, I haven't gotten much faster. But I have nothing to complain about. I've got a strong set of legs, sound lungs, a strong heart, and bucket loads of determination. I can't help but be a bit emotional when I think that in just 4 short weeks I'm actually going to try and run a marathon in memory of Becky. I'm feeling good about my training. I'm determined to be in the best shape possible for the race. Is it hard? Are you kidding? I'm just a normal guy who's pushing himself as hard as he can. This morning I said to my body, "I'm going to run a long ways today, and I'm taking you with me, so you might as well get with the program." Do my shins ever hurt? Huh? Do I ever feel tired? What? Still, I feel like I'm the most blessed man I know. My cup is waaaaay overflowing. I'm motivated each and every day to get out there and work hard at whatever tasks God gives me for that day. Tomorrow I'll race again. I may not run well and I may not run fast, but run I will.

Need to close by mentioning something completely unrelated, but I've totally gotten back into reading Hebrew again, especially my Hebrew New Testaments. No one ever said that scholarship is easy. But you've got to keep up with your knowledge of Greek, Hebrew, German, French, Latin, etc. etc. etc. Yes, I have to look some words up. And yes, I'm better at some languages than others. (My spoken Spanish sucks.) And yes, I use the snazzy apps that everyone else uses. But lose my languages? I'd no sooner lose my lunch than do that.

Off to dinner with a pal. See ya!

8:15 AM Last night I met for dinner with one of my outstanding doctoral students. I'm eager for him to get started on his dissertation. It's on a subject we think is completely overlooked in New Testament studies. Anyhoo, one of the areas he will be examined on during his orals is textual criticism, and I want to recommend to one and all an excellent website that will keep you coming back for more: New Testament Textual Criticism. Its aim is to be "a forum for casual discussion of the textual criticism of the Greek text of New Testament books, especially the Gospels and related topics." Had I not visited the site today I might have missed an excellent essay called How to Count Textual Variants, which asks "Just how many variants are there in the Greek New Testament?" At ETS last Friday I mentioned in passing that I thought there are about 2,000 significant variants in the New Testament, most of which are treated in the apparatus of the UBS Greek New Testament. One of these "significant" variants is Matt. 5:22, or so I argued -- despite the variant being overlooked in some recent commentaries. My point here is this: We live in a millennium where the study of textual criticism is gloriously possible for anyone willing to take the time and make the effort. And yes, this includes seminary students -- as the essay above reminds us in a (somewhat comical but true) footnote!

When the term "layperson" is used here, it also includes seminary students, who may even have a 93-hour M.Div., as textual criticism is almost never a part of the curriculum.

7:56 AM On Wednesday, Alvin Reid blessed me with a copy of his latest book called  Sharing Jesus. I read it last night. I loved this chart, which I had never seen before.

This is so spot on. As a fulltime "missionary" (I teach Greek but that's my job, not my "business"), I used to think of evangelism from a proclamation perspective, not realizing that relational evangelism is not only an option, but actually works better in certain situations (probably most situations). We are to have lives saturated with the Good News of the love of Jesus -- not just verbally, but physically, tangibly, relationally. Sharing our faith will always require a message, but it's also about lifestyle, community, and service. Living the Gospel is the best witness to our preaching. Paul said, "Woe to me if I don't preach the Gospel." I want to keep doing it until my dying day. There's no greater joy than sharing the love of Christ with others, though we may have to learn new lessons in courage and be open to new approaches.

Thank you, Alvin, for the reminder.

Thursday, April 6 

2:25 PM From my training log: Did 9 miles today. Ahead: a 10-mile workout, followed by a 15 and then a 20. Then start tapering for the marathon. Thankfully, I'm beginning to get stronger by the day. When marathon day comes, I know there's a chance I won't be able to finish the race. People drop out for any number of reasons, not least because of an injury. But today I'm feeling pretty good about the race. If something does happen and I have to drop out, it won't be because I didn't train hard enough. I'm reminded of something my pastor in La Mirada once told me: "Dave," he said, "it's better to be prepared and never called, than to be called and not prepared." So true. Just think: U.S. Marine. One of my toe nails is a complete mess. It's the color of a grape. That's not to say I'm gonna stop training. I think they call it runner's foot, or something like that. Oh well. I'll just see how I do next month in Cincy. Meanwhile, I'll just keep pushing my soon-to-be 65-year old bones.

Stay tuned!

7:14 AM What I'm reading:

1) Nerdy Language Majors. An informative site that can be entertaining as well.

2) Salvation by Allegiance Alone: Rethinking Faith, Works, and the Gospel of Jesus the King. Actually, Amazon will deliver this book tomorrow. Can't wait to dig into it.

3) Very interesting article in CT about Muslims in America and how the church is missing an opportunity to reach them for Christ.

"This is the best case we've had in human history to share the love of Christ with Muslims," according to David Cashin, intercultural studies professor at Columbia International University and an expert in Muslim-Christian relations.

4) What's keeping these Dead Sea Scrolls fragments from being published?

5) Paul Himes lists the top 50 academic journals in biblical studies.

Wednesday, April 5 

6:44 PM Hey friends. I thought I'd just check in and let yall know what's been goin' down in my life these days. There are so many good, God things to report about I really don't know where to start. So off we go, into the wild blue yonder!

1) The Glasgow Daily Times is reporting about a 65-year old runner who's qualified for Boston. His wife, who died of cancer in 2014, is his inspiration. Becky's mine! 

2) Here's the course map for this Saturday's 5K in Cary.

This will be my first time racing on this course. I know I'll love it. Seems it's that time of the year again. Weekly races. Warmer weather. Great causes. Even better comradery. One of my sons-in-law will be joining me for the race. Now that is waaaay toooo cool!

3) A gazillion thanks to my friend Mark at the Chick-fil-A in Wilkesboro, NC, for becoming my very first race sponsor!!!! Everyone, please note his logo on our fund website and be sure to pay them a visit whenever you're down that way. Kinda odd, but I really hate to ask people for money but I really do enjoy fundraising. We're almost half way to our goal of $4,000 for cancer research. Thank you for being part of this journey of mine!

4) I love this passage. It's Heb. 6:4-6.

We discussed it in Greek 2 class yesterday since we were studying participles, and this text has oodles of them -- in fact, a whopping 7!

A word or two. The diagramming method I use is based on what's called "colon analysis," which itself is based on how the ancients approached the text, according to Johannes Louw. Here's what you do. You place each main clause to the left, and then you indent any subordinate clauses to the right. In this particular passage, the key to interpretation -- in my humble opinion -- is the shift from the 5 aorist tense particles to the 2 present tense participles. The author is simply saying, "For those have once been enlightened, etc., it's impossible (for God or man) to renew them again to repentance as long as they continue to crucify to themselves the Son of God and expose Him to public ridicule. Here's my diagram in Greek (the participles are in bold):

Ἀδύνατον γὰρ πάλιν ἀνακαινίζειν εἰς μετάνοιαν

τοὺς ἅπαξ φωτισθέντας

γευσαμένους τε τῆς δωρεᾶς τῆς ἐπουρανίου

καὶ μετόχους γενηθέντας πνεύματος ἁγίου καὶ

καλὸν γευσαμένους θεοῦ ῥῆμα δυνάμεις τε μέλλοντος αἰῶνος

καὶ παραπεσόντας


ἀνασταυροῦντας ἑαυτοῖς τὸν υἱὸν τοῦ θεοῦ

καὶ παραδειγματίζοντας.

And here's the passage in English (cf. the ISV):

For it is impossible to keep on restoring to repentance time and again

people who have once been enlightened

who have tasted the heavenly gift

who have become partners with the Holy Spirit

who have tasted the goodness of God's word and the powers of the coming age

and who have fallen away


as long as they continue to crucify the Son of God to themselves

and expose Him to public ridicule.

The bad news is that it's possible to privately and publicly repudiate Christ. Peter apparently did as much. The good news is that repentance is possible as soon as one discontinues that behavior (as did Peter, who went out and wept bitterly). So this passage is not only a legitimate warning against "falling away," it's holding out hope to those who might succumb to the temptation to forsake Christ. God intensely loves us. He is always working for us, no matter how far off the beaten path we may wander. The obverse is also true: No genuine believer can ever persist in repudiating Christ. If they do, it's pretty certain they've never had a genuine conversion experience to begin with. Deeper still, note the significance of verses 7-8, which are often forgotten. The principle there is: Where there is fruit on the tree, there is life in the tree. That's why in verses 9-12 the author can say that his readers are "saved," because he's witnessed the fruit of salvation in their lives (not only did they minister to the saints in the past, but they continue to do so). So much more could be said, but I think you get the point.

5) After Greek class, I sent the students home with their second take-home exam of the semester, which covers chapters 17-21 of our textbook, Learn to Read New Testament Greek. This is soooooo exciting. There are only 5 chapters to go.

6) This morning my colleague Fred Williams (who has a doctorate in linguistics and probably knows more languages than the rest of us put together) gave his retirement lecture on Jonah and the Whale. Well done, Fred. We're gonna miss you!

7) Oh. Here's Alvin "Mr. Evangelism" Reid himself. Running over. That's how I felt when Alvin finished. His lectures are always so STIMULATING. If he can't light your fire about becoming missional, your wood is all wet.

8) As you can see, it's almost time to get up hay again. Boy, is the grass greeeeen.

And to think: this weekend I'm mowing the yard for the first time this year. Springtime, I is ready for ya!

9) This is my reading for tonight: Grammatik der Septuaginta. I loved this quote:

For researching the language of the Septuagint, our method must observe two things: First, the LXX is a translation, and second it uses the language of the day, that is, the Koine.


10) Finally, this week I'm giving away the following books. Yes, I'm beginning to thin out my library again. Most of my books go to the Majority World, but my more technical tomes go to those of you who want/need to build up your exegetical library and perhaps don't have the wherewithal to do it. (Just tryin' to help out a brother or sister ....) Write me at for your free book, and please be sure to include your mailing address.

Hope all is well with you!


Tuesday, April 4 

7:56 AM Odds and ends ...

1) There's corruption at SBL! Read about it here.

2) A friend of mine ran his first 5K on Saturday. I'm so happy for him. Do me a favor. Pick a 5K in three months and sign up for it. Your life will be totally changed. You'll find a new level of fitness and confidence. There's something about setting a definite goal that makes a world of difference. You might have to walk but that's AOK. Enjoy your journey. Maybe I'll see you at a race one day. Let's bring crazy to a whole new level.

3) I think my new running mantra is: "Do it for those who can't." Since Ella can't, I will. Since Kacie can't, I will. Since a wounded warrior can't (though many do), I will. When I'm running, I like to think about the cause I'm running for. On Saturday it was the Texas Special Olympics. This coming Saturday it will be to enhance existing greenways and trails in the Cary area. My marathon in Cincy will be for cancer research. Visualization is a huge part of a runner's success.

4) Tomorrow in our Jesus and the Gospels class our guest speaker will be none other than Alvin Reid. Check out his books here. Alvin's topic will be "Jesus and Evangelism."

5) I read this book in one sitting over the weekend. It's such an inspiration. Dick Beardslee overcame incredible hardships. Love his self-deprecating humor.

Monday, April 3 

8:40 PM I hope everyone had a fabulous weekend and got everything done they needed to. I had a very nice time in Dallas. It was a good chance to let my motor idle for a while. Not that I was inactive. A lecture on Friday. A 5K on Saturday. Church services and concert on Sunday. And lots of eating out with mom and dad. I got in two 4-mile runs and one 7-mile run as well. Here's a quick rehash of Saturday's 5K race in memory of Kacie Brekhus:

The gun goes off and I'm running like a bat out of Hades. I really revved up the pace-ometer. A mile into the race and I'm still feeling good. I was hoping to cover the 3.1 miles in under 30 minutes. Mile 3 and I'm still holding my pace. I peek at my Map My Run app -- a 9-minute/mile pace! This is ridiculous. Run finish time: 28:55. Yes, you read that correctly. Let me sum up the race in one word: AWESOME. Physically, I felt better after the race than before it. The event really energized me. To be sure, I'm not very coordinated, and my momentum is about as powerful as a poached egg, but life is good, right? I loved, loved, loved this event. I even got to meet and hug on Kacie's mom and dad. They are super nice people who are handling their daughter's death as well as can be expected. By the way, I think I'm turning out to be a very competitive person -- surprise! I'm learning so many valuable lessons about myself by racing. Here's a sampling: I'm basically a lazy and comfort-prone person, but one who is always ready to push through. I enjoy endorphin baths! The 5K is still my most challenging race. I love the simplicity of this sport (all you have to do is put one foot in front of the other). My fellow racers have hearts of gold. Running is just about the best therapy one can get (a real confidence-builder). Running sure beats mountain climbing as far as safety is concerned (I would hate to end up sliding off the side of a 14er in the Rockies). By divine intervention, I've managed to complete every race I've started. Folks, it's just plain great to be alive and ready to face life no matter what it throws at you. I have a lot of running to do before my marathon in 5 weeks and for me there's no greater way to achieve calm than to participate in races like the one I did on Saturday. I'm nervous about Cincy, but I know that everything will be okay once I get to the starting line and the gun sounds.

What a fantastic year it's been so far. I can't wait to do more adventurous, crazy things. It was such a joy to attend the ETS meeting in Fort Worth. I can't tell you how many people I met at the conference who thanked me for the books I've written. Some even asked me to autograph their books. I must express thanks to all of my publishers -- Zondervan, Baker, B & H, T & T Clark, Energion, Kregel, Eisenbrauns -- for their bold vision to publish this material. I've been amazed over the years to see how broadly God has used these books in peoples' lives and continues to use them. Life rolls on at an astonishing pace. Only our great God and His word remain unchanged. Whatever you may be enduring, my friend, look up, in reverence. Discover anew what God is doing in your life. Well, I've got to cook my meals for the week. I marvel at the goodness of the Lord. This was one of the greatest weekends of my life. Here are a few pics:

1) Posing with a few of the many Korean students that attend Southwestern.

2) Enjoying Korean cuisine with two Ph.D. students from Southern Seminary.

3) Here's a silhouette of me during my talk. Spooky or what?

4) Me at the start of the 5K in Carrolton. I usually start in the middle of the pack.

5) Like my pink ribbon?

6) Kacie's sweet parents.

7) Having real barbeque.

8) Mom singing in the choir.

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