persecution in India. The response from the Christians?
"While persecution is
not uncommon and many of our people suffer greatly, the Lord has
been so faithful to prove Himself by allowing our brothers and
sisters to show love to those who need it the most," he said.
same lines, I want to tell you about a perfectly astonishing fellow, our
translator James. He accompanied Jason and me when we went to the
willing to sacrifice his life to go where he felt God was calling him
and to stay loyal to brothers (like Jason and me) whom he had only
recently met. And what was the danger? James is a Burji, and Burjis are
not very welcome these days among the Gujis. It took both courage and
Holy Spirit-sized faith to reach out beyond his comfort zone to people
who both fear and hate the Burjis.
our final day among the Gujis. Several Burjis had been shot and killed.
As we were driving from Gujiland back to Burji, we passed several men
armed with spears and rifles. James quietly slunk down in the car so as
not to be seen. This was prudence, not cowardice, on his part. All of us
have only one life to live, and it would be irresponsible to waste it
unnecessarily. Eventually we arrived safely back in Burjiland.
Immediately after that, the road was closed.
weeks later, James was murdered because he had dared to help us.
I find it
encouraging that there are young men today who, like Epaphroditus of
old, are willing to gamble their lives away for the sake of the Gospel
(Phil. 2:30). They are fearless in making Jesus known, and motivated
supremely by love. There are few things so moving as to see young
Christians making a bold and costly investment in the kingdom. In the
New Testament, the word "martyr" meant to be a witness. It did not
originally refer to a person who suffered death for a cause. In those
days, a man died because he was a martyr. He was not a martyr because he
there is a lesson here for us. It is when we have really understood the
actual cost of discipleship, when we have understood the plight of our
enemies, when we have heard their cries and have shared their suffering
and despair, then we will be able to proclaim the Word of God to
them – but not until then!
PM Would you read a book entitled The Steward
Leader that has a section called "Becoming a Leader of No
Reputation"? I think I would. In fact, I think I will. For more, go
PM Jesus is not only to be obeyed; He is to be
enjoyed as our constant Companion and Brother. Let me say it again,
strongly: Jesus commands us to go to the world, but not in the context
of dissension within our ranks. His overriding command is that we be
committed to one another in love, affirming and strengthening each other
as fellow workers in His kingdom. In this light I'd like to publicly
affirm my friend and former student,
Eric Carpenter. I'd do missions with you any day, brother. Church,
Friends, if our
mission work does not flow out of the priority of mutual, unconditional
love for each other, our exploits for God in the world will come very
hard. That's why this Saturday I'm looking forward to being with our
Ethiopia team for our final orientation before boarding our plane. It is
no exaggeration to say that, without a deeply spiritually united team,
our hearts can never be synchronized with God's.
I don't care how many
Spurgeon quotes or Calvin quips you post on Facebook and Twitter. If
you don't love your brother, your theology is bad and if you say you
love your brother but refuse to be in fellowship with them over a
pet doctrine, you are a liar.
Bad theology or disunity. The fact is, we all have our pet
theological beliefs and slants. It's so easy to talk about
Christianity. But my question to you, thou who wouldst condemn thy
brother for whom Christ died, what are you doing with your life
that is sacrificial? Forgive me, but I will repeat here the story
of an age-integrated church I heard about that decided to assist another
church with its Awana program because the latter church needed people to
whom their Sparkies could say their Bible verses. Imagine that! Here you
are, a church that teaches that youth ministry, Awana, Sunday School,
and Children's Church are all non-biblical, but when pressed with a need
you do what you can to help. The truth is that children DO learn
Scripture and DO come to Christ through age-segregated programs. Perhaps
an even more important truth is the statement this age-integrated church
was trying to make: We are ONE BODY in Christ, despite our theological
By the way, Arthur, when it comes to
saying one thing and doing another, the biggest liar and hypocrite is
ME. At least that's the way I've lived most of my 57 years. Like Saul
before he became Paul, I have been religious, informed, well-educated,
affluent, ambitious, self-confident, and sophisticated. Oh God, make me
blind! Blinded by you! As blind and as helpless and as lacking in pride
and self-confidence as Saul was when he was led by the hand to the house
Arthur, I think you must have had me in
mind when you wrote your essay, for no one has lived more for his
traditions, for his religion, and above all for himself than I have.
AM Does anybody really notice? I'm referring to those
"Unreached People of the Day" banners you see on some websites (such as
Today's people group is the Ad Dharmi of India. Population 1,148,000.
And the number of evangelical Christians? 0.00 percent.
when I read that statistic. I'm upset when I compare that with all of
the churches in
Roxboro, NC. The church is not storming the gates of hell. We are
retreating before the world. Please do not talk to me about your "need"
for a new building when God has ordained for us to demonstrate Christ
sacrificially to a lost and dying world. We are living in a
generation of Christians that is no more the Body of Christ than a
corpse is. My book
The Jesus Paradigm is a plea to live as Christ would. Here's my
challenge to you: Determine right now that you will apply the principles
of 2 Corinthians 8-9 to your financial affairs, both as a family and as
a church family. "Your abundance should be a supply for their want,"
says Paul. I urge all of us to live a lifestyle that matches our
responsibility to care for our bothers and sister worldwide so that the
Gospel might penetrate a lost and dying world, the Ad Dharmi included.
AM Following up on yesterday's "sermon," I am struck
by the eagerness of the church in Antioch to help the believers in Judea
(Acts 11:27-30). From the outset the early church recognized that
salvation was more than positional. It has a moral aspect. Luther's
doctrine of justification by faith has been rightly criticized because
of its overemphasis on the forensic aspect of salvation. He was
primarily interested in forgiveness, and not in renewal. Hence his
trouble with James. Pastor Jason was quick to point out to us yesterday
that sola fide is a heresy if we mean by it faith
unaccompanied by works. If I am opposed to the cult of Americanism,
it does not mean that I am anti-American. Early Christianity was not
aloof from society. It penetrated it with love and good deeds. But it
was love of Christ, not of country, that impelled them to be involved in
the affairs of society. Note the words of the second-century document
The Epistle to Diognetus (5:1-5):
Christians are not distinct from
the rest of men in country or language or customs. For neither do
they dwell anywhere in special cities nor do they use a different
language.... They inhabit their own fatherland, but as
sojourners.... Every foreign country is to them a fatherland and
every fatherland a foreign country.... They live on the earth but
their citizenship is in heaven.
never pits "Christian culture" against non-Christian culture. Instead,
it infuses new leaven into the existing culture. The church is a people
within a people, but it is never part of the sacral society that
idolizes man or nation. When Luther put the trumpet of reform to his
lips he was prepared to make a break with the state, though not a
complete one. As soon as he joined himself to the secular rule, the
Reformation came to a crashing halt as far as I am concerned.
I am greatly
indebted to God for allowing me to live in these United States. But,
like God's people of old, I "desire a better country, that is, a
heavenly one" (Heb. 11:16). The kingdom of God transcends national
borders, so why should cultural values craft the church's institutional
If we were to view
our holidays as human creations, we would be less likely to sacralize
AM Quote of the day (Karl Barth):
Das letzte Wort, das
ich als Theologe und auch als Politiker zu sagen habe, ist nicht ein
Begriff wie "Gnade," sondern ein Name: Jesus Christus.
One could easily replace, on this Memorial
Day, "Gnade" with "Freiheit."
Speaking of Barth, I'd like all of my
current doctoral students to translate the following Barth Zitat without
using a dictionary, and then email me your translation. This is VERY
simple prose, and you should be able to nail it.
Wir sind Theologen und
sollen von Gott reden. Wir sind aber Menschen und können nicht von
Gott reden. Wir sollen beides wissen und Gott die Ehre geben.
AM The BBC reports about the crisis in
care in Ethiopia. One of the main problems is the obstetric fistula,
usually resulting in incontinence (which is anathema in Ethiopian
society). Our ultrasound machine will go a long
way toward helping the women in Burji to monitor their pregnancies.
Below: When Zemete
of Alaba needed fistula surgery, the Lord brought
her to Addis Ababa for surgery at the world-famous
hospital there. Here she is before her surgery:
And here she is
Glory to God!
For more on the
horrible social consequence of obstetric fistulas, go
PM This has got to be the ultimate in frustration.
You're a dog, and you've just chased a squirrel under the tobacco barn.
Nothing you do can winkle him out.
Please let me
encourage you to avoid the trap of following any one man. We seem to
have a tendency to do this when we are a part of a church that has
one pastor as the main man. He may be a wonderful person, full of
wisdom and insight. He may also be gracious, encouraging, kind, and
selfless. He may be a servant in the biblical sense. It is because
of all these positive traits that we have a tendency to follow him.
Let us instead,
regardless of our church situation, follow the one true man: Jesus
PM Taking the dogs for a walk. Or is it the other way
PM Does the Iwo Jima statue contain 13 hands? (The
statue portrays only 6 men).
One more thought.
The sword of the Spirit is the only sword the church of Jesus Christ
knows. By bringing the sword of steel into the church we pervert the
Gospel. It is like admitting a cancer into the tissues of Christ's Body.
The Anabaptists assailed this perversion, and I for one am glad they
did. No one can be coerced into the faith. And no nation is a
"Christian" nation. It is only natural that people should want to honor
their nation's war dead. But nationalism has no place in the church.
PM Car is washed, weeds are pulled. Everyone is
For not only has the word of the
Lordyour “launch” plan
sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith
in Godmass mailing has
gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything. (1
Thessalonians 1:8 re-mix)
How true! Personally, I am inclined to do
missions the way we read the early church did it. This was clearly
brought out in brother Jason's passage from this morning, Acts 11:19-30,
the story of the church in Antioch.
1) Missions is from local church to
local church. (The believers in one place established churches in
2) Missions is guided by the spiritual
leaders of these local churches. (The gift for the Judean churches
was sent to the elders of these churches.)
3) Missions does not require
"professional" or salaried missionaries. (The founders of the church
in Antioch, as Michael Green once put it, were "uneducated
This is exactly why Becky and I do not
work through any "church planting" ministry or organization. Our desire
is to see missions returned to the local church, to see missions engaged
in by every believer, and to connect local churches with other churches
through their spiritual leadership, and indeed what we are seeing is
more and more local churches discovering that they can send out their
own missionaries without jumping through the hoops of someone else's
brilliant program for church planting (which always seem to require mass
mailings and, of course, donations).
Nice job, Alan!
man is nowhere to be found, so I will buy up the time by washing Becky's
fiery red chariot and weeding her vegetable garden, thus doing my best
to fulfill the promise of Gen. 3:17-19:
Cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it
all the days of thy life; Thorns and thistles shall it bring forth
to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of
thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground.
word about "sermons."
culture, the Western church is enslaved by a worship of preachers and
preaching. This anthropocentricity is one of the greatest stumbling
blocks to the Gospel. Know something? There were no "sermons" in the
churches of the New Testament. The concept of a well-crafted 30-minute
homily carefully alliterated with three points simply did not exist.
Now, I am not denying that there were "messages" or, if you will,
"words." And this morning during and after the assembly I heard several
of these words -- you can call them sermons if you like. Brother Joel
reminded us that the wealth and freedom that we enjoy as Americans has a
greater purpose than to enable us to selfishly pursue "life, liberty,
and the pursuit of happiness." God has blessed America so that we, as
Christians, might use our wealth and freedom in the service of taking
the Gospel of King Jesus to the nations of the world. What a great
Miss Kimberley, a member of our Ethiopia Team, shared with us how she
became interested in going to Africa. Her point was very simple: As the
Lord Jesus places His love in our hearts for someone (or for a nation),
our job is to be obedient to that impulse. Another great "sermon."
Jason then spoke a good "sermon" to us from Acts 11:19-30. These
statements struck me:
"Even if we lived in a Communist country we would still have the
freedom to worship Christ."
"Numerical growth is not the only thing the church ought to be
"Even though there are external pressures, the Gospel will not be
authenticity of a church is a faith that works."
"There is no kind of economy or recession that should stop the
church from doing what it ought to do."
some purdy good words, Jason!
I had great "sermon" this morning from brother Hermann, who told me how
God healed him from pneumonia and congestive heart failure. This "word"
even came to me in the German language. Ausgezeichnet!
this definition of "sermon" make you feel a little uncomfortable? I hope
so! With love in my heart, the only thing I can say is let's not miss
the "sermons" God has for us because we only listening for THE "sermon."
As never before, we need believers who are willing to give, and hear,
"sermons" like these every Sunday morning and every day in between.
The Hill. B's feeling too tired to attend. She's trying to reserve her
strength for Tuesday's treatment. Pray for her.
excited this morning to be revising
Why Four Gospels? As I ask in my concluding chapter, "Could it not
be, however, that the Markan priorists are wrong?" Indeed, I believe
humidity is already 90 percent, and the temperatures will be in the 90s
today. And we're planning on working on the tin roof today? Somebody
to everyone who emailed me to point out my egregious typo of yesterday ("my
deaf wife" -- see 8:02 pm).
know how I missed this:
Congratulations to Dr. Greg Welty. Greg is my newest colleague at
the seminary and I believe our very first Oxford Ph.D. Welcome aboard,
agree with this statement:
Thus, while teaching
is indeed a function required of elders (1 Tim. 3:2), and while the
ministry of God's Word is essential to their shepherding task (Eph.
4:11), this provides no excuse for the kind of pastor-dependence we
are witnessing today.
reveals the bankruptcy of modern evangelicalism like our addiction to
comfort and extravagance.
students, if you're taking my Hebrews exegesis class this fall be sure
to check out this wonderful
deeply inspired by the story of 13-year old Jordon
Romeo's ascent of Mt. Everest. Here is a fascinating and frightening
insight into the human heart and our desire to excel in something even
when great risk is involved. Paul dared to tell the Philippians, "I can
do all things in union with the one who strengthens me" (Phil. 4:13).
Notice that we are never called upon to do anything for God in our own
strength but in the power of the living God. That's my desire! I long to
do something of significance for Christ. A Christian is not to be a
spineless, fearful individual, shuffling around doing meaningless
things. We are to invest our time and talents in "doing good and sharing
what you have" (Heb. 13:16), even if we do so in utter obscurity. What
mountain does God want me to climb? You to climb? No Christian need be
ashamed of a spirit of adventure, even of risk-taking, not when it is
for the good of the kingdom.
of mountain climbing, the only real "mountain" I've climbed is
Mount Olomana in Windward Oahu. The view from the top is spectacular, as
many climbers have found, including these:
think that baptisms ought to be PUBLIC professions of faith (as they
seemed to be in New Testament times), then you will enjoy reading this
story: Revival of
outdoor baptismal services connects churches to communities. I was
baptized at the age of 8 at Kailua Beach, the same place where everyone
surfed and swam. A few years later my church built a baptistery, and I
thought: Why do we need this contraption when we have the beach? I still
don't have a good answer to that question.
Below: My baptism in 1960. Waiting her
turn to be baptized is my mother. We were saved a week earlier on the
very same evening.
the language (the text is from Luke's Gospel):
Di ienjel go tu Mieri
an se tu ar se, "Mieri, mi av nyuuz we a go mek yu wel api. Gad
riili riili bles yu an im a waak wid yu aal di taim." ‘Wa Gabriel se
kanfyuuz Mieri an shi staat fi wanda wa im miin. So di ienjel se tu
ar se, "No fried Mieri, kaaz Ga riili riili bles yu. Yu a go get
prignant an av wan bwai pikni, an yu fi kaal im Jiizas. Im a go ton
wan griet man an dem a go se im a di pikni fi di Muos Ai Gad. Di
Laad Gad gwain gi im di chruon wa im faada Dievid did av. An im
aalwiez a go ruul uova Jiekob piipl, Izrel; an im a go ruul fi eva
back from 220, our favorite seafood restaurant in Henderson, NC. Great
dining, and the price is right -- cheap! What a great date the Lord gave
us. Just put Becky to bed. She has been feeling very tired of late so
I'm asking God to give her a long and deep rest tonight. Her latest
blood tests have been above normal so we are anticipating returning to
UNC on Tuesday morning for her final chemo treatment. Please pray for my
dear wife. She is such a stalwart hero of the Gospel. She gives it all
she can, and then more. Above all, ask God to keep our hearts pure
before Him. All the work and labor and sacrifice we accomplish can never
be pleasing to the Lord unless it is done from a pure and sincere heart,
with no other motive than to be His obedient servants.
get cleaned up and take my bride out to dinner.
update: Our goal for the day was to finish framing in the new long barn.
Our first priority was to see that all of the roofing slats were nailed up
securely in preparation for the tin roof.
needed to cut a suitable opening for the barn door, which has to be wide
enough to allow ease of movement of hay in both directions.
step? Framing in the doorway. Even though we've already got gobs of old
doors, none of them is suitable for an old barn, so we'll build our own
out of scrap lumber.
final step was to build the threshold.
the barn in all her glory, a little bald on the top but nothing an afternoon or two of
roofing can't solve.
to this wonderful sound. In my opinion, the only thing sweeter than the
noise of a chain saw is the purring of a Massie-Ferguson 135.
Why Four Gospels? go out of print and has returned all rights to me.
I am planning on revising the book and adding a section addressing the
responses to my obscurantist and fuddy-duddy views on the Gospels. Lord
willing the book will be out in time for ETS and SBL in November (which
I plan on attending). In the meantime, constructive criticism is always
welcome, but don't dawdle in getting it to me.
you know the difference between "constructive criticism" and
"destructive criticism"? Constructive criticism is whenever I criticize
you; destructive criticism is whenever you criticize me --
holiday weekend: A tribute to
never apologized for calling His disciples to make a clean break with
the clinging attachments of this present world.
making arrangements to attend the
convention in Orlando, June 15-16. Plan to spend lots of time at the
SEBTS booth, so if you're a prospective student I hope you'll stop by
and introduce yourself. I'd love to meet you!
anyone know of plans for a meet-up of bibliobloggers this year? I'm also
free at mealtimes if anybody would like to get together. Shoot me an
update: Here's a portion of an email Becky sent out yesterday to our
Ethiopia email list.
will see a portion of the report of the clinic work that was
received today. In the picture of the boy lying on the floor of the
car, that boy was found collapsed in a field. He was treated
successfully & is now
to his family. The day after his collapse, a pregnant woman was
gored repeatedly by a bull; they got her in the ambulance, but she
died en route to our clinic.
You will see that much spiritual fruit is gained from this clinic,
as well as lives saved. Thank you for your part, thru prayer &
financial giving & other kinds of work. God bless you for that!
Thank God for this ambulance. What a
marvelous ministry it is having for the glory of God and the good of
promised, here are a few pictures from yesterday's work in the hay fields.
a peek at this video. Man, ain't nothin' like good old-fashion farm
among the hundreds of people who have influenced my life and ministry
over the years are my college, seminary, and post-grad professors. I can
still remember their names: Sturz, Ebeling, Saucy, Mitchell, McDougall, Barth, Lochman, Reicke. These and many others went out of their way to disciple
me and instruct me in the things of God. Today, as a teacher, I am no
less grateful for the thousands of students I've been privileged to
instruct and mentor through 33 years of teaching. If you could meet
them, you would quickly discover that most of them are men and women of
deep spiritual passion. They have become impatient with pseudo-remedies
for what ails the church and have a burning desire to return to the
basics. With single-minded determination they are eager to see the
church around the world grow for the glory of God. It was my honor to
"lead" them through their commencement exercises yesterday.
"lead" in quotes because a blind monkey could have done my job, it was so
easy. I'm reminded of a definition of leadership I once heard:
Leadership is finding out where everybody is going and then getting out
in front! In any event, our president brought a wonderful message from 2 Corinthians 5
and reminded us that the only way out of the fantasy and illusion of so
much that seeks to counterfeit Christianity today is by actively
pursuing the "ministry of reconciliation" that the Lord has entrusted to
us. May I challenge you to join our grads on the road to servanthood in
the name of King Jesus?
talking about people like Lesly and Thomas Hudgins, who will soon be
leaving for Latin America (and who, by the way, are responsible for the
outstanding Spanish translations of my essays). God has ordained them --
and all of us -- to demonstrate Christ to a lost and dying world. What
an honor and privilege to serve Jesus together. What a mighty God we
serve. Graduates, let's forget about becoming the next superstar of
American religion. Let's place all of our abilities at the feet of the
Lord Jesus and rediscover the glory, authority, and power of His
Graduation services were SWEET. Got back home at 5:30 pm, just in time
to rake hay and pick up bales. We barely finished our work when it got
dark. The darkness was immediately followed by a huge downpour and
lightening show. Much to be grateful for today. Worn out. Pix tomorrow.
will be many unsaved in our commencement exercises today at 10:00 and
3:00 in Binckley Chapel. Praying for a great day of celebration and
a warm welcome to the newest members of the 5-Minute Greek Club: Blake,
Nathan, Kyle, Seth, Justin, Nick, Joshua, Ronnie, Jeremy, Joel, Mike,
Jesse, and Jonathan.
friend David Allen of SWBTS is interviewed
here about his forthcoming commentary on Hebrews as well as his new
book defending direct Lukan authorship of Hebrews.
an outstanding expositor and exegete, and I am eager to get my
non-nicotine-stained hands on both volumes when they appear this year.
Of course, David is completely wrong about Lukan authorship, but I like
to take a look at Eric Carpenter's entry about a Lifeway marketing
gimmick. His essay is called
What's Wrong With This Picture? Hey, I've got nothing against
Lifeway. They've published several of my books. Their bookstores even
sell them. Still, it's so easy to fall into the trap of "Christian"
consumerism. For many, shopping is as addictive as alcohol or smoking or
drugs. We cram our bookshelves with Christian books and tapes and DVDs.
We can't wait to get to the next seminar or meeting. All the while our
lives are barren. I don't know about you, but I want to stop living
"vacation" begins tomorrow afternoon for me officially. Unofficially, in
the next 3-4 months I will work just as hard as I do during the rest of
the year. I hope to make 3 international mission trips, plus work on 2
books projects, plus do a book signing in Florida, plus get up hay and
build more barns here at the farm.
rarely took any "time off." He relentlessly pressed from one village to
the next doing kingdom work. He knew that heaven and hell are real, and
that the time is short. He was gripped by a love for the lost. Friends,
the concept of vacation is part of our culture, not part of the Bible.
So is the 40-hour work week. When we see the world as Jesus does, our
hearts will be broken with the concerns that break His.
God wants us to be shining lights in the world, missionary activity can
never be a substitute for a close walk with God.
thunderstorm just to our south in Granville County, NC. So far we are
words are music to my ears. They are so important I've even printed
them in RED:
Now the Southern
Baptist church I pastor is tempted to do everything except for what
Jesus told us to do. Jesus never told us to construct church
buildings, start programs, or organize Sunday School. He never told
us to host conferences or events. Instead, he told us to get the
gospel to all the nations. Therefore, as a church we have stopped
construction on buildings, we are removing programs, and we are
reorganizing our structure so that we can more intentionally focus
his church on what he said is most important.
Southern Baptist pastor needs to read this quote and then read it again
until it sinks in!
update: Nate has begun nailing up the roof slats on the new barn. He's
also mowed a whole bunch of hay. Weather permitting, we hope to get the
bales up this Saturday. In 90 degree heat no less. What fun!
news! Yet another one of my doctoral students has had an essay accepted
for publication. This time the author is Paul Himes and the journal is
none other than the Bulletin for Biblical Research (BBR).
Heartiest felicitations, Paul!
article is entitled "Peter and the Prophetic Word: The Theology of
Prophecy Traced through Peter's Sermons and Epistles." Paul will begin
writing his dissertation on 1 Peter this summer.
assistant and I calculated all of my final grades. Here's Andy inputting
them into the seminary website.
anyone has a complaint about their grade please feel free to come and
talk to me. I am always happy to lower students' scores.
Just as Satan is identified as the
deceiver of the nations and has led them to embrace false and
perverted religious worldviews, he has deceived the church to think
of missions in terms of evangelizing countries. He has obscured the
focus of the Great Commission to be "panta ta ethne" or people
expression to which he alludes is almost certainly that found in the
Great Commission of Matt. 28:19. But this raises a very important
question of Greek exegesis: what do the words panta ta ethne
refer to? The journey toward becoming an effective disciple-maker begins
with understanding this vital expression. To answer this question, I
turned to the ever-insightful Don Carson, who writes (Matthew, p.
Adherents of the "church growth
movement" have attempted to justify their entire "people movement"
principle on the basis of this phrase, used here and elsewhere,
arguing that ethnos properly means "tribe" or "people"…. The
latter point is readily conceded, but the conclusion is
linguistically illegitimate. Plural collectives may have
all-embracing force, whether in Greek or English. Doubtless God may
convert people by using a "people movement"; but to deduce such a
principle from this text requires a "city movement" principle based
on Acts 8:40, where the same construction occurs with the noun
"cities." In neither case may missiologists legitimately establish
the normativeness of their theories.
correct? I think so. He concludes, "The aim of Jesus' disciples,
therefore, is to make disciples of all men everywhere, without
distinction." So how hard can we push this text to derive missiological
principles? Too hard, I'm afraid. Note that Rev. 5:9 distinguishes
between "tribe, language, people, and nation" (ISV) – a verse that
clearly speaks to the situation in the Horn of Africa, where Becky and I
work within the "nation" of Ethiopia among the "Southern peoples" that
include the Burji and Guji "tribes" that speak the Burjinya and Gujinya
"languages," respectively. That said, brother Rankin's point is surely
well-taken. I have no desire to resort to hair-splitting distinctions
when so much is at stake. As I have grown in my missions involvement, I
sense my own weakness and the power of the Evil One. More and I more I
realize the deceptive subtleties of my own heart and the malicious
cunning of Satan to thwart the work of God in Ethiopia and elsewhere.
Whether, therefore, we speak of evangelizing "countries" or "people," we
are directed to take the initiative and submit everything to the
Lordship of Christ, who has overcome the Evil One.
If a person of their free will
decides to give a percentage of their income then of course that is
their decision based on Grace and not out of fear of a curse ripped
from a text and given new meaning. But as soon as giving is called a
tithe that's mandated, forced, or becomes a requirement based on
Malachi chapter three or Matthew chapter 23 or some other dubious
implied command from the Bible, it represents poor hermeneutics and
In our transient age, we need
Christians from all walks of life to go to a place and stay for a
PMHad a good
time today at graduation rehearsal. I functioned as Faculty Marshall. I
still have no idea what I'm doing, but it sure is a blast. Already
looking forward to the fall semester. Here's my class schedule:
Greek Exegesis of Hebrews
LXX (co-taught with Robert Cole)
Linguistics (Ph.D. Seminar)
represents an overload as I normally only teach 3 courses per semester.
Students, please note:
Th.M. students are welcome to sign up
for the Ph.D. seminar.
The prerequisites for the LXX course
are one year of both Greek and Hebrew.
The prerequisite for Hebrews is one
year of Greek.
I'll be teaching Greek 3 (Syntax and
Exegesis) in the spring of 2011 – although I don't know why anybody
would want to take me for that course (it's very heavy).
PMBecky and I
(mostly Becky!) are up to our eyeballs in preparations for our Ethiopia
trip in 5 weeks. Leading a mission trip comprised of over 25 people
involves three requirements on our part:
You must be omniscient. Only if
you're all-knowing can you be sure that everything will go as
Next, you have to become omnipresent.
You will have to be with every team member every moment of every day
to make sure the environment is perfectly suitable for their gifts
Finally, you must master omnipotence.
As team leaders we are expected to be able to do anything and
everything to make the trip a success.
As must be
perfectly obvious by now, these attributes do not belong to Dave and
Becky Lynn Black. And for those of you who think you see them in us –
one day you will wake up and smell the roses! Omniscience, omnipresence,
and omnipotence belong only to the Trinity – and in very good measure I
might add, perfectly in fact. Becky and I will do the very best we can
to see that you are well-prepared for what you will encounter in
country, but it's not our job to play God. Actually, you are not "our"
missionaries at all. You are God's. And He has supplied you with
everything you need pertaining to life and godliness. That's the promise
of Scripture. I assure you that He will never fail you.
AM And now, a brief word to my students who will be
graduating this Friday:
In the past few
years you may have noticed something about your professor. I've learned
to become better at listening. To be a disciple of Jesus you must
be observant. Sometimes I'm too anxious to get across my own agenda that
I miss the important perspectives of others. Thomas à Kempis once said,
"What good does it do to speak learnedly about the Trinity if, lacking
humility, you displease the Trinity?" Jesus made it clear that if you
want to be greatly used by God you can never think that you have
"arrived." I've found it far too easy to allow subtle pride to slip in
and interfere with my desire to genuinely care for others. More than
ever I'm learning how to share my hurts, my defeats, my limitations with
After Friday you
will be "graduates." But I hope you will never stop learning. Be open and
honest with your limitations. Never put up a phony front. Make it clear
to people that you are more interested in serving them than in being
served by them. Push yourself hard, but be gentle with others (Phil.
4:5). Above all, God is doing incredible things in this world. Plug into
His global plans. We are the conduits through which His cross-love
flows. And remember: You can't lead people beyond where you yourself are
AM Life is too short to be an apologist for anything
but the Gospel. That thought came to mind yesterday when I was asked to
grant permission to someone to republish something I had once written on
constitutional politics. My initial instinct was to give it. After all,
the DBO byline reads, "Restoring our biblical AND constitutional
foundations." I have long been a keen student of American politics, its
process of development, as well as its relationship with biblical
Christianity. Indeed, not too long ago I would have considered myself an
"apologist" for the Constitution Party. Anyone who reads this website
site knows that I have written very little lately on this subject.
The more I read the
New Testament the more I see that it would have us hold tightly to Jesus
Christ, to whom we must accord preeminence, and hold every other loyalty
loosely, including our political affiliations. I have come to see that
any political movement, perhaps especially one supported by Christians,
is a part, not of Christianity, but of Christendom, which itself is a
very complex mixture of truth and error. The tragedy is that this
connection is not always acknowledged, and the resultant impoverishment
has often made Christianity prone to syncretism and to an unwarranted
and shameful triumphalism.
In order for the
church to fulfill her glorious worldwide mission, its structure must be
a global structure. This means that the church is essentially a
trans-national body, centered in the Great Commission of her Lord and in
the spiritual life and mission of its total priesthood of all believers,
regardless of their political views or national loyalties. In this way
our churches can be revolutionized by a partnership of grace in which
every member has his or her own contribution to make and function to
fulfill. No doubt when we begin to look at the Body of Christ
universally we will find ourselves acting less and less like
"apologists" for our own brand of national politics.
Truly, life is too
short to be an apologist for anything but the Gospel.
PM Worked till dark, partly in the rain, but got the
flooring done and all 7 of the trusses up in the new log barn. Came home to a
wonderful supper of Chinese stir fry and rice. Awesome.
PM As you can see, we're back early from UNC. They
canceled B's chemo -- low platelets -- so we've rescheduled for next
Tuesday. If her blood counts are still too low then, they will cancel
chemo #6 altogether. I'm hoping and praying that all will go according
to schedule next week. Thanks for thinking of us today, for praying, and
for emailing us your words of encouragement. Greatly appreciated!
AM Speaking of beginning Greek, Greek Syntax and
Exegesis is being offered this summer and fall (two sections). Take
it. A foundation exists for only one reason: To build a superstructure
AM Gearing up for my final week of the semester. How
do you tell your beginning Greek students you've over-simplified for the
AM Glory to God. Becky's final chemo is today.
AM Last Tuesday night I watched this program on PBS:
The Wounded Platoon. A real eye-opener. Watch it if you possibly can
and learn about the tremendous psychological toll on our troops and the
invisible wounds of war. Then say a special prayer for our walking
M. Sanz Morales, M.
Librán Moreno (ed.), Verae Lectiones: estudios de crítica textual
y edición de textos griegos. Exemplaria classica: Vol. Anejo 1.
Huelva: Universidad de Huelvá, 2009. Pp. 414. ISBN
PM Here's a glimpse of our health center in Galana. This
video features our evangelist Solomon riding his new bike.
All of us do
evangelism, but Solomon has a special gift in this area. He is a real
gem. As Becky said in the assembly this morning, we are not worthy to
tie the shoe laces of the Ethiopians with whom we work.
PM Just got an amazing report from our Gondar
evangelists. Our 3 teams of 2 evangelists each have planted 4 churches
in only a year and a half. God is at work. Of course, each evangelist is
a native Ethiopian, comes from Gondar, speaks perfect Amharic, and knows
the Ethiopian Orthodox Church inside and out. And still the U.S. sends
American missionaries to plant churches in Northern Ethiopia. I don't
PM "Fairest Lord Jesus" was the title of the awesome
duet played today to the glory of God and the blessing of God's people.
Thanks Becky and Leanna!
PM The answer to yesterday's puzzler? Roland Bainton
(The Travail of Religious Liberty, p. 55). Bainton was professor
of ecclesiastical history at Yale for many years. The Reformers'
alliance with the state led to such intolerance that, while they
required freedom of conscience for themselves, they often did not grant
it to others. It is to the Anabaptists, and not to the Magisterial
Reformers, that we owe the benefit of religious toleration that we enjoy
today in the U.S.
AM Great to hear from a former student yesterday. His
church wants to go missional. Blessings on you, Skip, as you begin your
teaching series on the missionary lifestyle!
AM B's playing a piano-organ duet this morning in the
assembly. Not by herself of course lol!
PMLawrence Vance just sent me this
Just published is my
review of the third edition of Bill Mounce's Basics of Biblical
You can read the review
Always glad to promote Mounce's excellent works!
PM Who said it?
of the monument is that it includes men who would have destroyed
each other had they met in life.
PM Matt, Liz, and the boys are spending the week at
the beach. Which means that their puppy Alpha is staying with us. Right
now he's cuddled up at my feet. Sweet.
AM For a very brief but accurate glimpse into life in
Addis Ababa, watch
If you’re truly called
to a people and a location, you won’t quit just because you can’t be
paid anymore. God’s call is not tied to salary. Whether pastoral
ministry or any other ministry – if you’re called, you’ll find a way
to do it, even if it means working two jobs PLUS being in ministry.
One of the many things I love about church planting – if you’re
called to it, whether as a pastor, deacon, or in some other role, it
sure won’t be for the money!
It's not that I speak
about my need, because I learned to be content in whatever state I
If only our churches could say that. In
chapter 2 of The Jesus Paradigm I quote Bonhoeffer's haunting
The Church is the
Church only when it exists for others. To make a start, it would
give away all its property to those in need. The clergy must live
solely on the free-will offerings of their congregations, or
possibly engage in some secular calling. The Church must share in
the secular problems of ordinary human life, not dominating, but
helping and serving. It must tell men of every calling what it means
to live for Christ, to exist for others.
The church is not a building. It is a group of radical Jesus-followers
ministering to each other sacrificially and reaching the community about
them with the Gospel in word and deed. Will we ever learn to be content
with what we already have in the way of buildings so that we can live
more sacrificially for the Gospel?
AM Congratulations to
Jordan Romeo, the 13-year old who just scaled Mount Everest.
Alvin Reid (Raising
the Bar) and I (The
Myth of Adolescence) are in agreement: Teenagers are young adults
who are eager to prove that fact to the rest of us. Why then should we
marginalize them, tell them to go outside and play, and refuse to
incorporate them into all the activities of the church, including global
AM On Thursday Becky planted her garden, and today
God is sending rain. He is so good to us!
AM Good day, bloggers and bloggerettes! I've got
missions on my mind this morning. In the first place, Becky just left to
practice our ultrasound machine on two pregnant women in Roxboro
(friends of ours). Secondly, I just published a little piece that I've
long wanted to write. It's called
Life Is a Mission Trip. Take It!
Life is truly a
mission trip -- and I want to take it!
PM Blessed today with another wonderful end-of-year
email from one of my Greek students. Made me think up this maxim:
teachers never drive their students. They simply help them steer.
PM I have begun to make another pass through the
entire ISV New Testament in preparation for the publication of the
entire Bible next year. I welcome your comments and suggestions. One
passage that will require a great deal of thought is Heb. 13:17. How
should it be rendered? In other words,
rule? The Greek here is most revealing. Any thoughts?
PM Great to be back home again. Feel washed out. The
chiropractor, do you think? Not to worry. Becky cooked up some great
salmon for supper. Already I feel better.
AM Off to see a chiro today. For the first time ever.
Being jostled about with 8 other people in the back of a Land Cruiser in
rural Ethiopia takes a toll on the ol' bod.
AM In exactly 6 weeks, 26 disciple-makers from North
America will begin their travels to Ethiopia. These include our
sonographers who will give our clinic staff in Burji 2 weeks of
instruction on our new ultrasound machine. With eternal gratitude I must
thank and praise the Lord for His faithfulness to the church in Ethiopia
and for giving B and me the privilege of experiencing His grace, mercy,
and supernatural aid that always accompanies us to Africa -- even when
we are struggling with our physical limitations. You realize, don't you,
that just a few years ago neither of us would have ever imagined being
involved up to our eyeballs in Ethiopia. Thankfully, as we began to
rethink life's priorities, God shot up a few flares to get our undivided
attention and to show us the way. This planet does not need another Dave
or Becky, but it sure could use a few people who are like Jesus. And
that's what our ministry in Ethiopia is all about. Jesus wants to
involve all of us in "preparing God's people for works of service" (Eph.
4:12). Since God wants it done, He'll enable us to accomplish it. My
prayer is that we will never become proud of ourselves as if this is our
work. God's the one running the show. We are nothing but tools in His
hands. So please do not set us or anyone else up as gurus. Our God is a
jealous God, and He will not tolerate any substitutes.
AM My colleague Alvin Reid has just posted a
delightfully thought-provoking essay on
mentoring. Nobody does
it better than Alvin. His peroration:
Your legacy will be in
the few, those God allows you to shape more than just their minds,
but to actually turn their trajectory of life in a direction more
gospel-aligned. That, my friend, is a real education.
PM Alan Knox asks a very good question:
How do we
show more honor to one another? One way is to say, "Why in the world
would you want to study with me when you could study with ____________
at ___________?" I've
actually been known to
tell prospective doctoral students that! I meant it too.
PM I don't see how she does it. I mean, gardening,
sewing, prepping our Ethiopia teams, cooking, cleaning, public speaking,
AND updating the BHBC blog. But somehow she gets the job done.
PM This morning I met with a prospective Ph.D.
student here at the farm. We had a wonderful conversation. Reminded me
of my first meeting with Bo Reicke. Scary.
PM Allan Bevere, who edits with me the
has just had his latest book
listed at Amazon. If you think the Old Testament is under-taught in
our churches (I almost said "under-preached" -- bad habits are hard to
break!), you might want to check it out.
PM Quickie prayer request (to be prayed
in the Spirit, of course): Pray for the parliamentary elections to
be held in Ethiopia this Sunday. The last elections held in 2005 ended
in a disputed outcome and violence, which Becky and I witnessed
firsthand. Pray for the peace of Ethiopia!
PM I'm pretty good at finding new job openings in
religious studies, but brother Lou beat me to
this one. Grad students, take a gander.
PM Calvin Miller:
Fragile trust is stronger than
PM This morning I received a beautiful testimony from
one of my graduating seniors. What an encouragement. Who have you
graduation, next week I will be serving as the faculty marshal during
our commencement exercises. Would somebody please tell me what I'm
supposed to do?
AM Greek students of mine, have you ever seen a giant
sequoia? There's a huge lesson we can learn from it.
You will not be
able to read your Greek New Testament overnight. It takes a lot of time
for God to produce anything of true quality in us. A squash can grow in
two months, but it takes about a thousand years to produce a fully
mature sequoia. Don't get discouraged, friends, if your rate of progress
isn't as fast as you'd like it to be. Can you imagine Becky and me
planting a row of corn and getting upset a day later when the crop
wasn't ready for picking? Instant maturity does not exist in any area of
life, including learning how to master a foreign language.
Just a friendly
word of encouragement from your Persecutor-in-Chief this semester.
AM In case you're interested in such things, a review
of Using New Testament Greek in Ministry can be found
here. Thank you, Jason!
more and more good stuff coming from the capable pen of Arthur Sido. He
even has the gumption to gently challenge the "accepted wisdom" of some
of today’s leading authors and pastors. Respectful dissent is to be
encouraged in the Body of Christ, if for no other reason than it gets us
to thinking about things that really matter. In his latest post (Piper
on Membership) Arthur writes:
If you want to show faithfulness to
Christ lived out in community with the Body, skip the formalism.
Skip the membership classes. Skip the miserly "tithe" envelope. Give
yourselves to one another as the church. Take everything the world
tells you us important and set it aside as meaningless.
Arthur's desire to rethink the wineskins. What do you think?
Norelli raises a very good question:
Should pastors get Ph.D.s? I invite
those of my current (and former) doctoral students who are also
pastors/elders to jump into the discussion. The main goal of a biblical
education, I should think, is to produce spiritual leaders who are
"teachable" (this, I believe, is the proper translation of didaktikon
in 1 Tim. 3:2) and who have the necessary tools for digging deeply into
the text of Scripture. But at the same time they must never lose touch
with the "real" world in which the rest of us live. The Anabaptists of
the sixteenth century believed that those who toiled with their hands
(craftsmen) or who worked in the soil (peasants) were more receptive and
teachable than those who had been corrupted by the folly of worldly
wisdom. I believe they have a valid point. How many times have we seen
people who were "educated beyond their intelligence"? Here a certain
irony arises, of course, for among the radical thinkers of Anabaptism
there were several university trained men whose knowledge of the
Scriptures and of the original languages of the Bible were unsurpassed.
One of them, Conrad Grebel, studied at the Grossmünster in Zürich for
six years before becoming one of the 81 students to register at the
University of Basel in the winter semester of 1514. At Basel he lived in
the bursa (college) that was under the direction of the city’s leading
humanist scholar, Heinrich Loriti (Glarean). From Basel he traveled to
Vienna to continue his studies, and from there to Paris. But he is the
exception that proves the rule. As I attempt to show in The Jesus
Paradigm, the Anabaptists' attitude toward scholarship was based on
their extremely high work ethic. Toil was considered a virtue. The
peasant who worked with his own hands in cooperation with God’s nature
was thought to have keener insight than the scribe with his multitude of
reason to farm, I guess.
does it again:
Germany's motorway rest stops for the soul.
Having driven on the autobahns in Deutschland I have no doubt that these
chapels are needed. But, really, isn't this a bit of wishful thinking?
PM Next week I'll offer my beginning Greek students
the opportunity of a lifetime. To do what, you ask? To join:
The Five Minute Greek Club!
my handout will say:
Welcome to the Five
Minute Greek Club.
Two things you need to know right up
front: There are no dues, and we never meet.
What, then, is the club all about?
By signing below you commit yourself
to translating two verses every day from your Greek New Testament
throughout the summer. Start with an easy book (like finishing 1
John), then go on to something a bit more difficult (the Gospel of
Mark, for example). If you don't read your Greek, you will lose it –
So sign up today.
"I, the undersigned, commit myself
this summer to translate two verses every day from my Greek New
Testament unless providentially hindered."
Note 1: This commitment begins TODAY.
Note 2: Please email me if you signed this
form and let me know you've joined the club:
Note 3: If you fulfill your
commitment, please let me know at the beginning of next semester.
You might qualify for a free copy of my book New Testament
Textual Criticism. I will test your proficiency in my office to
determine your eligibility.
reviewsGreen Like God, a
book on creation written by SEBTS grad Jonathan Merritt. Well done, T.
C. For what it's worth, I once birthed an essay on this topic myself.
Enjoying Nature Without Worshipping It.
At this point I am cheering on the green movement within evangelicalism
– to a degree. Mostly I'm busy trying to care for my own little "Green
gave a student this final exam in Introduction to Ecclesiastical Latin.
Want to try your hand at it?
Please translate into good English, without the use of any helps,
the following passage (Augustine, Confessions, 1.2.2.):
Et quomodo invocabo deum meum,
deum et dominum meum, quoniam utique in me ipsum eum vocabo, cum
invocabo eum? et quis locus est in me quo veniat in me deus meus,
quo deus veniat in me, deus qui fecit caelum et terram?
Answer these questions:
1. What tense is invocabo?
2. What case is deum?
3. What tense is fecit?
Extra Credit: Translate into Latin "I am the
way, the truth, and the life."
serendipity: The Jesus Paradigm is now available in
Nook. Whatever that is.
Divinity School announces an opening in
New Testament. An oddity in this
sentence caught my eye:
Primary teaching competencies should
include Pauline literature with significant publication record and
teaching experience, and with competency in secondary areas that may
include among others: Paul and politics, social context, NT
archeology, gender studies, queer studies, and racial/ethnic
stumbled upon John Anderson's excellent site and was so impressed with
one of his posts that I simply have to link to it here:
Some humble suggestions on writing a
dissertation. I hope that all of my doctoral students will
congratulations to Armin Baum upon his
appointment to full professor of New
Testament at the Freie Theologische Hochschule in Gießen.
Helge Stadelmann acknowledges the promotion. Helge, by the way, is a
General Meeting of the SNTS will be held in Berlin, Germany, July 27-31,
2010. I will have to miss the meeting since I will be in Ethiopia the
entire month of July. Had I been able to go, here's the seminar I would
have attended: The Greek of the New Testament (chaired by Profs.
C. C. Caragounis and J. W. Voelz). The following papers are scheduled to
Albert Hogeterp (Guest, Nijmegen),
"New Testament Greek as Popular Speech: Adolf Deissmann in
Retrospect". Respondent: David de Toit (München).
James W. Voelz (St Louis), "The Greek of the New
Testament and its Place within the Context of Hellenistic Greek".
Respondents: Rollin Kearns (Tübingen) and Jan van der
Chrys C. Caragounis (Lund),
"Perfect for Aorist.
Subtle Nicety or Indescrimination?".
Respondent: Jarl Ulrichsen (Trondheim).
Not a bad line-up, eh?
AM Happy Birthday, Liz. I remembered this piece by
John Rutter when I thought of you today. Enjoy your day and God bless
PM The other day I mentioned that B & H Academic has
asked me if I would begin revising my
The New Testament: Its Background and Message in view of the
publication of a third edition of the book. My editors tell me that this
work continues to be by far their best-selling New Testament
introduction. That doesn't mean that we can't improve the book, however.
I am offering a
free copy of
The Jesus Paradigm to anyone who is willing to carefully read
through the current (second) edition of the book and then send me
specific suggestions for its improvement -- topics you'd like to see
omitted or expanded upon, debated issues you think I've treated poorly
or unfairly, etc. Again, please be specific and comprehensive
in your recommendations. This offer will stand throughout the summer, as
I plan to begin work on the revision during the fall semester (assuming
I complete my revision of
Paul, Apostle of Weakness by then). I really do want to see this
work improved (and I'm sure Tommy Lea would have agreed with me!), so
please do consider helping me.
Note: The title is
also available as a download at the
PM Shame on me. I forgot to mention that the Lord God
sent us a couple of inches of soaking rain overnight and all day today.
Our fields are as pleased as they can be. And I am as grateful as any
farmer in Mecklenburg County, VA, or anywhere else in the world for that
matter could possibly be. Thank you Jesus.
PM I've had an awesome time teaching my Intermediate
Greek class this semester. A great group of wonderful students has
blessed my socks off. We've got only two weeks to go, and this is by far
the best part of the entire course: student presentations. On the docket
tomorrow are these 3 papers:
Teach: Using the Definite Article
A Survey of
Verbal Aspect in New Testament Greek
into Discourse Analysis and the Extension of Its Method into the
Exegesis of John 17
Again, guests are
welcome to join us at 12:30 in Adams 211.
PM Just back from visiting with Matt, Liz, and the
boys. One of our presents for Liz was the current issue of National
Geographic Magazine, which just "happens" to feature the eruption of
Mount Saint Helens that took place exactly 30 years ago tomorrow. Liz, I
see your birth wasn't the only spectacular event to occur that day.
Yep -- count 'em!
One per year.
This is the
truth: We DO love you!
Ice cream cake
to celebrate with. Life doesn't get any better than that.
I take that
back. Getting royally hugged on by Micah takes the cake any day!
PM Off to buy a present for our daughter Liz's
birthday, which is tomorrow. In celebration of the God who gave her life
and who has sustained it,
course. (Wink, wink.)
PM Every day I survey the blogosphere to see what
posts I might want to link to. This practice has had an incredible
impact on my life. God's Word often comes alive to for me when it is
repackaged in someone else's words. I love it when blog posts call us to
base our lives unswervingly on the Word of God. Bonhoeffer once put it
this way: "To deviate from the truth for the sake of some prospect of
hope of our own can never be wise, however slight the deviation may be."
I am convinced
that the more time we spend simply reading and meditating upon the Word
of God, the more we will understand Job's declaration, "I have treasured
the words of His mouth more than my necessary food!" (Job 23:12). Over brunch Becky
and I talked about blogging. (She herself is becoming quite a prolific
writer.) "A blog," she said, "is a window that allows us to look at what
the Holy Spirit is teaching or impressing upon another person." What an
excellent definition of a good blog. A blog is a little like a testimony
one hears when the church gathers. Gradually we learn that there are
certain people in whose lives we trust the work of the Spirit and others
we distrust. And so we keep going back to those blogs again and again.
All of us who have been blogging for any length of time will identify
with what Becky is saying.
Two blog posts from
today brought a special joy and delight to my heart. This is because I
believe the Lord can use them to teach and transform His Body. Like all
good blog posts, they are guides to the Ultimate Guidebook. If you take
a moment to read them, perhaps you will be challenged by the Lord Jesus
to greater obedience in your life, just as I have been this morning:
thanks to all of you who are honest about your journeying of faith and
are blogging as the Holy Spirit leads you. You are a great blessing and
encouragement to me.
PM Almost ashamed to say that I arose at 10:00 this
morning from my slumbers. Almost but not quite! B and I just enjoyed a
late brunch consisting of scrambled eggs (with green peppers and
avocados) and the juiciest papaya I've had in a very long time. Brought
back happy memories of Hawaii (for me) and of Ethiopia (for Becky Lynn).
AM Yesterday was a day of "rest" for us. This doesn't
mean that it was spent doing nothing. I love Jesus' words to the
Pharisees when they had clobbered Him for letting His disciples pick
heads of wheat on the Sabbath: "The Sabbath was made to benefit people,
and not people to benefit the Sabbath!" (Mark 2:27). Elsewhere we read
that Jesus' yoke of service is sized perfectly and always guaranteed to
be light (Matt. 11:28-30). My "yoke" yesterday was twofold:
1) I accepted the
Lord's invitation to visit a dear friend of ours who is in the Duke
University Hospital for congestive heart failure and pneumonia. The Lord
prompted me to have the Bethel Hillions sign a get-well card for brother
Hermann which I then delivered in person during the Sunday School and
church hours. How can I "sit and soak" when I have an opportunity to
serve?" I thought to myself. So off I went to Duke. Hermann and I had a
good long talk, some of it in German (he immigrated to the States after
the war). I don't know about you, but I love listening to the
testimonies of our elderly saints of God. I got a glimpse of Hermann's
life journey from war-torn Wiesbaden to his tour of duty in South Korea
as a U.S. serviceman (he and I had seen many of the same sights there)
to the time when he was his wife's primary caregiver, gently feeding,
dressing, and bathing her for 7 long years. As he talked I could see on
his face the peace that God provides even in the midst of a hospital
Lord is my shepherd, I have everything that I need" (Psalm 23:1).
Last night, as I
fell thankfully into bed, I thought about Hermann and his invincible
love for his wife, and I smiled.
2) Many of my
friends have reminded me in recent days that had I worn gloves I would
not have as many blisters on my hands as I do. Blisters or not,
yesterday Becky and I set out to put the finishing touches on her brand
new garden fence. This means that she will now be able to plant her
crops with complete peace of mind that our rambunctious Shelties will no
longer be able to romp and play among our tomatoes and squashes. (Deer
and rabbits are another story.) We were both sorely in need of rest
yesterday but we knew that rain was on its way and that the job could be
postponed no longer. Amy Carmichael once talked about using the word
acceptance instead of submission, for more and more she felt
that that word opened doors of infinite peace. Thus Becky and I gladly
accepted God's plan for us and plodded on until dark, eager to bring our
project to a closure. The fruit is what we think is a very lovely garden
and, even more, another wonderful time of bonding as a married couple.
We worked together in the midst of weariness to accomplish yet another
God-sized task. Married love always expresses itself in actions, but
these qualities must flow from the heart, for then it is God's love that
is put on display, not our own. Years of journeying together with Him,
day by day, project by project, side by side, slowly but surely begin to
produce the fruit of the Spirit in our lives. How wonderful the grace of
I trust my
activities yesterday brought God glory and accomplished His purposes in
my life. His incomparable character makes for an incomparable journey.
Oh, I thought you
might like to see some pix of our fence project. The fencing that we
bought was a bit too tall for our tastes so I shortened it by about 4
Here I am putting
up the last section. How do you spell R-E-L-I-E-F?
So, what do you
think? Becky can't wait to begin planting.
misconception in our day is this: that God isn’t concerned to
protect His own integrity. He’s a kind of wishy-washy deity, who
just waves a wand of forgiveness over everybody. No. For God to
forgive you is a very costly matter. It cost the sacrifice of His
PM We have now planted all of B's birthday presents:
rose bushes, a gardenia bush, and a butterfly bush. Speaking of Becky
Lynn, I was surfing the net a couple of minutes ago when I ran across
this statement and shared it with Becky:
Dr. Black is a pretty
smart guy but the wisdom in his wife (and mine) often makes us look
You are SO right, Arthur! To get the
Tomorrow it's back to The Hill, where
after the church meeting we will enjoy a pig-pickin' and lots of good
fellowship all focused on the glory of God in Ethiopia.
PM Reminded of Oswald Chamber's classic quote while
praying about and planning my international trips for the remainder of
Doing God's will is never hard.
The only thing that is hard is not doing His will.
PM I love the NLT's rendering of 2 Tim. 2:22: "Enjoy
the companionship of those who call on the Lord with pure hearts." Becky
has been a wise and loving traveling companion for 33 years now. Working
out in the backyard garden with her today brought back happy memories of
the first garden we planted in La Mirada many years ago. Today our first
priority was digging the holes for our 17 posts.
Each had to go
down into the sun-hardened clay about 8 inches.
Can you tell
that yours truly hasn't used the post hole digger in a while?
placed and set each of our posts, with Becky holding the level and me
setting the concrete. This is how far we got today.
We'll let the
concrete set overnight before putting up our fencing. Lowe's Lawn and
Garden guarantees that this here fencing is the best Anti-Sheltie
protection out there. We'll see (smile).
AM Glad I checked the ETC website this morning and
thankful for their
plug for the Greenlee Festschrift, which is on sale at
From the reviews:
well-deserved tribute to this well-known scholar, teacher and
missionary, whose wide-ranging contributions are evident in the
brief biography and full bibliography with which the volume
opens....Readers of this stimulating collection of essays will no
doubt wish to join the contributors in extending congratulations to
the recipient of this well-deserved tribute."--
"On the whole, the
essays are refreshingly interesting and succinct. One gem in
particular merits close attention: Moises Silva's study of the
earliest manuscripts of Galatians.....Professor Greenlee has been
well served."-- Bart D. Ehrman
In many ways Harold Greenlee has been for
me the prototypical New Testament scholar: Well-versed in his
discipline, using his vast knowledge in the service of the church. For a
sampling of his numerous publications, go
AM Becky has long thought that we need a "paradigm
shift" in the way we think about birthdays. Her thoughts have reached
fruition and are free for the picking
AM Had a thunderstorm last night. Grateful for every
drop of rain the Lord sent.
PM Our work on the new hay barn is coming along. We
salvaged this old beauty from Person County, NC.
The price was
right: "You get the barn off my land and you can have it for free." The
wood is very well preserved for being so old. We figure the barn was
originally built in 1910 or so.
A barn built
after that would have had framing -- ours has none. We don't plan to use
any chinking on this barn, though we are going to build two sheds off
either side. This would have been the height of the original doorway.
Men were a bit
shorter back then, I reckon. We had to do very little adjusting; the
logs have a good fit despite having been moved.
And thus our
day drew to a happy end.
If was tough
working outdoors but Becky kept us well supplied with water and
Next step: Roof
trusses and flooring.
PM Right now it's 85 degrees, going up to 90 this
afternoon. The humidity is 65 percent. Not the most pleasant day to be
working outside. Here's a new rose bush we've planted (a Mother's Day
gift from Liz).
Last night B
got two more bushes for her birthday (a butterfly bush and a gardenia
bush) but they'll stay indoors for now. Earlier Nate came up and helped
us troubleshoot some odds and ends, including a problem we were having
with our dish washer.
Right now I'm
fixin' to join him at the site of our new hay barn, where at least we'll
enjoy some shade from the heat of the day. After that I need to dig 17
holes for our new garden fencing. In the meantime Becky is deep watering
the holes I've started, where the ground currently has the consistency
of hardened concrete.
PM It's nice to know that not everybody overlooks
basic principles of linguistics in the battle over gender and the
Man of God"; and
she be a man of God? What's at stake is something fundamental to
biblical Christianity. I hope, however, that such quixotic jousting
doesn't get in the way of the real purpose of every "man of God": to
advance the Cause of causes.
AM If life is a series of periods, last night was an
exclamation point as we celebrated Becky's birthday with a surprise
party here at Bradford Hall. It was a ladies-only affair, with the men
doing all the preparation, cooking, and cleanup. My co-conspirators were
Matt and Liz. How does one even begin to describe the gourmet meal that
Matt prepared and served? Or the great outpouring of love for Becky? I
had asked each participant to write a word of testimony about Becky, and
these were compiled by Miss Rachael of the seminary and put into a
booklet. It was uniquely beautiful, as was the Waldorf Astoria cake she
baked. Cindy Bush decorated it as only Cindy Bush can do. I couldn't
help but think of Russ Bush, my former dean at SEBTS, who passed away
from cancer a few years ago.
It was an
astonishing evening. Becky's surprise was total. The conversations (so I
am told) were incredible. Becky said to me that she felt she like was in
a worship service the whole evening, so Christ-centered was the
conversation. There's so much good, God-stuff going on in our lives how
can we ever be dissatisfied with our great God?
A "few" pix, of
AM Please take note that Amazon is, for some
inexplicable reason, selling the second (expanded) edition of
Learn to Read New Testament Greek rather than the new third edition.
I've contacted my publisher to straighten this out with Amazon. This is
not the first time Amazon has done this, though I certainly hope it will
be the last time.
AM It is dark and gloomy as a light rain falls on our
parched fields. How melancholy. But things will cheer up when Matt, Liz,
and the boys come over this afternoon for a visit. I am trying to get
some writing done this morning on Godworld. I am gradually
learning to mistrust archaic expressions or grammatical forms and to use
mostly words of everyday speech, though not necessarily words of only
one syllable. I have been reading a great deal of German and French
these days with much pleasure, though German theologians can be very
somber. My great new friend is Barth (Friedrich, that is) -- marvelously
lucid and intellectual. Later this morning Becky and I will plant her
new rose bushes. I love these works of nature, which really do put works
of art to shame.
AM Don't forget: All this week The Jesus Paradigm
is on sale for $10.00 at
AM Quote of the day (Will Willimon):
I’m not the greatest preacher in the
world and you’re not the greatest church in the world but that’s OK
because the greatest God in the world is surprising the world with
God’s ability to create something out of nothing, right here in this
congregation. So on this our first Sunday together pray for me that
I would, week-after-week keep real clear about why we’re
that I would look to Jesus and not to myself to make this a faithful
church. Pray that on my last day here, when I’m preaching my very
last sermon to you, I’ll be able to say, “When I came to Trinity
Church, I didn’t come preaching lofty words of wisdom, fancy
spiritual stuff and highfalutin theology. I preached Jesus Christ
and him crucified. I preached the simple, unadorned Good News that
God is saving the world through us. My only boast is the wisdom and
power of God.”
PM Eric Carpenter thinks he's "old" at the
age of 39.5. How does that make me feel? I had Eric as a
student at SEBTS! Seriously, aging has its benefits, as
Eric notes. We realize more and more than our sole business here on
earth is to glorify God. The difference is that we do so now perhaps
more through illness than through health, more in the drab of daily life
than in the days of thrills and frills, even possibly more by death than
One thing is
certain about aging, though: It's a good way to learn that true
significance has nothing to do with earthly "success." In fact,
glorifying God may drop us to the bottom rung of the ladder. Eric, the
desire to glorify God at all times cost John the Baptist his head and
Jonathan Edwards his pulpit. Are you ready for that? Am I? We had better
mean it when we say that our one desire is
to "honor Him here through living out a Christian witness in a lost
PM Tonight was a double-header: First to Ruby
Tuesdays, then to Lowe's to plan our new garden fencing. We start
working on it tomorrow.
PM Taking my sweetheart out for her birthday dinner.
Does anyone outside of the Seminary
bubble actually talk about how your soteriology matches your
ecclesiology? I find myself laughing at the stupidest Seminary geek
jokes (Like the guy wearing the t-shirt that read, "Arminianism. I
chose this shirt") and wondering who I have become. I am
simultaneously glad that I am learning so much and also bitter that
I have relinquished what semblance of non-social awkwardness I had
left. When they finally hand me my diploma (oh please let it be
December!), I'm convinced it will read: MA in Zombie Studies.
lot of truth in what
Heather says. Seminary Greek
professors: Take heed.
to our SEBTS students who were honored in our awards chapel yesterday. I
especially want to call your attention to 3 of them and their awards:
John & G. Henton Davies Old Testament
Edward A. McDowell Jr. Greek Award
Paulino do los Reyes and Joseph Block
my current assistant and Th.M. student. Enoch is my former assistant.
And Seung is applying to do his Ph.D. with me this fall. I'm very proud
of each of you gentlemen.
trouble now. Big time. Henry Neufeld has a serious problem with my book
The Jesus Paradigm. And he's the publisher! The controversy brews
into dissing blogs and bloggers, watch out.
Dan Phillips is on to you.
thinking about doing a Ph.D. in New Testament, here's some
very good advice.
There's a lot of discussion in the comments about German. I have a
slightly different take on the subject. I would suggest that you learn
German as a living language rather than as theological subject. This
means your goal would be a spoken mastery of the language, not just the
ability to read German. Remember, language is essentially a spoken
phenomenon, and we learn best when both the ear and the eye gates are
involved in the learning process. Thankfully, German pronunciation is
relatively easy to learn. Of course, having a native German speaker
nearby will help the process considerably. But the online helps will aid
you also. I've seen so many students struggle to learn theological
German only to pass the exam and immediately forget to use the language.
Mastering a foreign language has a lot to do with one's purpose and
goal. I hope your goal in learning German is to be able to really
understand the language and not just produce rough translations.
What Is Seminary? I have struggled
with this question for many years. The local church in America seems to
have forgotten its responsibility to disciple its members. "After all,
we have our seminaries." That is a dangerous attitude. The seminary
classroom can be a place of magnificent learning, and often is. But
every care must be made to avoid a learning experience that fails to
give our students an idea of what it costs to follow Jesus. We must not
forget that the early church had no formal educational institutions or
professionally-trained academics, and yet it turned the world
upside-down in a mere 30 years. There were many good reasons for this.
Someone once said that the three greatest dangers of a seminary
education are extraction, expense, and elitism. A clerical culture
develops. Writes Abbé Michonneau in his book Revolution in a City
Parish (pp. 131-32):
Our seminary training … has put us in
a class apart…. Usually it means that we feel compelled to surround
ourselves with those who will understand our thought and our speech,
and who have tastes like our own…. We are living in another world, a
tidy clerical and philosophical world.
becomes a whole way of living, an ecclesiastical subculture. The church,
however, predates the seminary and will outlast it. The book of Acts
reminds us that the earliest church leaders were homegrown nobodies.
They were not parachuted in from the outside with all of the proper
credentials. They were already full participants in their congregations
– they had homes, they had jobs, and they had solid reputations.
If at all possible, I think we too would do well to train people for
leadership in our local churches, equipping them for evangelism and
other ministries, thus complementing the work of our seminaries and
Bible colleges. The early church knew that leadership is best learned by
on-the-job training, not by sending our most promising leaders off to
sit behind a desk.
enjoying reading the Bethel Hill church blog. Not just because Becky is
the main writer. No. My mind tends to focus on the events but not the
significance of those events, so my outlook is often more on the what
rather than the why. Becky often takes the conversation in a whole new
direction. Perhaps the epitome of this is seen in this brief comment she
made in her
blog post about last Sunday's
"Mothers' Day" service.
Mother's Day means great joy to some
folk, and great sorrow to others. On the Hill, we put things in
perspective…by remembering that the core of life is not Motherhood,
but Christ-hood, and the rearing of children is best done alongside
a father, with both focused on the commands of Scripture.
one of those foundational issues about church and the whys and
wherefores about our goals in gathering together as we do. I'm super
glad that we have the technology to blog about our experiences on
Sundays, and I get totally overwhelmed at times by the love that my
church family shows me and Becky on a regular basis. It's a grace thing,
and that’s for sure. Glad the rest of you can "join us" cybernetically
from time to time.
serve in church? The answer may not be so obvious. Join the discussion
brother Alan’s blog. One of the
things that surprised me when I began to study the New Testament
teaching on this subject was that it talked so much about the way women
participated in the ministry of the early church. We know that the wives
of the apostles accompanied their husbands in their evangelistic
ministries (1 Cor. 9:5). Commenting on this verse, Clement of Alexandria
concluded that the apostles’ wives were "fellow ministers," that is,
co-laborers with their husbands as they ministered to other women. We
also know that women in the early church opened their homes for church
meetings. (It is interesting that Scripture gives us the names of the
women in whose homes these churches met more than the names of the men:
see Acts 12:12; 16:40; Rom. 16:3-5; Col. 4:15). Moreover, we know that
Priscilla (Rom. 16:3) as well as Euodia and Syntyche (Phil. 4:2-3) were
Paul's "co-workers." The latter duo went so far as to share Paul's
"struggle in the cause of the Gospel," possibly meaning that they were
exposed to the same suffering and opposition that the apostle Paul
renewed discussion at Alan's blog makes me think of how much I enjoy
working with Becky in the Gospel ministry. On the one hand, there's no
end to the constant work and sometimes fatigue. On the other hand,
there’s an extraordinary joy to know that you doing something to further
the Great Cause in this old world of ours. The other day a good friend
of mine said he always referred to our work in Ethiopia as "Becky and
Dave's ministry," intentionally mentioning B's name first. I told him I
would want it no other way. Her labors are incredible and make mine pale
AM Just a quick word before leaving for campus. I
want to say thank you to those of you who are so punctual in answering
your emails. That means a lot to me, and it says a lot about you. One
correspondent I have is actually the president of an institution of
higher learning. He never fails to answer my emails promptly. I wonder,
Where in the world does the man find the time? I just wanted all of you
to know that I do not take that character trait for granted. It is rare
-- and appreciated. Thank you.
PM Last minute preps for classes tomorrow and
Wednesday. Awesome subjects, even more awesome students.
PM May I bore you this evening with an anecdote from
farm life? An analogy occurred to me today while picking up bales of
hay. When I first started in this business I was so excited that I would
practically run from bale to bale. Gradually I learned that if I was not
going to burn out I would have to pace myself. You walk up to the bale,
grab it with both hands, then walk (not run) to the trailer. Then you
walk to the next bale, grab it, and walk to the trailer.
If this sounds
monotonous -- it is. Just like much of life. Here's my point. It takes
lots of grace to live life in the monotonous trudge. Yes, there is the
occasional mountain top experience, and the occasional valley too. But
most of life is so, well, "daily." In the New Testament we often see
this word "daily." The early church "continued daily," the Lord added
"daily," we are commanded to take up our crosses "daily," we pray "Give
us this day our daily bread." I don't know about you, but I'm learning
to find grace in the daily grind of life. Haying is no longer anything
spectacular for me, yet it is still deeply satisfying. Those of you who
have studied a foreign language (German, say) and have forgotten it --
is it perhaps because you have forgotten the importance of keeping up
with your languages daily? My advice? Pace yourself. Don't let
your daily work go undone. If you blog, blog regularly, daily if you
possibly can. If you are learning French, read it every day of your
life. This is the only way I've kept up with my languages. If you do
what I suggest, you will find that His grace is sufficient for it all,
even for the "daily."
PM The kingdom transcends earthly borders and
passports. The church in Ethiopia and the church in America are one.
And this church
will grow, not because we have devised a "strategy" (finely honed, of
course), but because believers in both places live in Christian
community. We serve one another in an alternative social reality, and as
we give corporate witness to the love of God others are drawn in to join
I can't wait to see
my Ethiopian brothers and sisters again. Only 7 more weeks!
(For a larger
version of the above picture taken by NASA, go
here. It is phenomenal!)
PM Becky's found an Amharic program for our computer.
Which means ... coming soon: Essays in Amharic!
Paul made himself an
enemy of the culture and the state by being a vocal evangelist for
Jesus Christ. His job prospects were dramatically hampered by his
public stand for Christ. As a spokesperson and a frequent target and
also as an apostle, Paul had more right than anyone to demand
remuneration for preaching but he didn’t.
PM Two simple sentences, but my how much truth they
The early church,
guided by the apostles, listened to the Holy Spirit testify to the
truth of the scriptures (the OT at that time) and the teachings of
They never looked to one man
for "the vision for the church."
Was beschreibe ich da? Die Genesis und
Existenz eines Propheten? Nein, schlicht in ihrer ganzen Kuriosität
die des Theologen! Irgend eines grossen Theologen? Unsinn: Was
heisst da “gross”? Es mag grosse Juristen, Mediziner, Naturforscher,
Historiker, Philosophen geben: es gibt aber—das gehört beiläufig
auch zu den “Existentialien” der Theologie—nur kleine Theologen.
May I ask all of my
doctoral students to do me a favor and see how easily you can render
this passage into English without using the helps that Mark provides?
Then grade yourselves on a scale of 1 ("Great difficulty") to 5 ("No
difficulty at all") and let me know via email. Thank you!
PM M.A. or M.Div.? The discussion continues
here. For what it's worth, I
opted for the M.Div. as my pre-doctorate degree. Of course, as I said
below, I also wrote a major thesis in my M.Div. program, which was very
good preparation for my D.Theol. studies in Basel.
PM And the winner is:
Jon Glass. The
passage, of course, is the opening verse of 4 Maccabees. Can you tell
I'm trying to drum up interest in the LXX (and in my fall class lol)?
AM So, there's some competition out there to Herr
Skubala? I don't think so, Andy. But
AM Hay report: Nate says the grass will likely be dry
enough to rake and bale today so it looks like we'll be getting up a few
hundred bales this afternoon. As you know, I LOVE picking up hay and
putting it into the barns, maybe too much. The Lord allowed me to come
down with back pain last night. Not too bad yet, but if you see me
stooped over on campus tomorrow you'll know why.
Oh the delights of farming -- and aging!
AM Just talked to Becky and Lizzy. They are having a
blast. They've been told they can stay as long as they want so I may not
see them for a few days!
AM Thank God for young pastors like Eric Carpenter
who are actually reading their Bibles and therefore are in the throes of
having to make important decisions about how to do church (see
Starting to See Past Traditions). Once again a dog and tail question
faces us. How do we relate the dog of Scripture to the tail of praxis?
Does the Bible really make any difference in our lives and the ways we
relate to other people? Or do our traditions wag the dog of truth? Does
reading and studying the Bible (NOT the works of human authors) nudge us
toward boxes marked "This needs changing" or do we play biblical games
like those who claim to espouse biblical authority but in whose lives
and churches tradition always seems to have the upper hand? As Aussie
John implies in the comments, only the Spirit of Jesus can penetrate our
tradition bubbles. Decades of "We've always done it this way" crumble in
His presence. All are invited to pour their precious wine into the new
wineskins. The only question is: Are we willing to become radical? Eric is so right:
We need to learn how to "see" again and stop merely following the blind.
AM In Intermediate Greek class this week we'll have 3
A Matter of
Semantics: A Lexical Semantic Approach to Solving the Problem of 1
in New Testament Greek
Composition with Verbs
Looking forward to
it! If you'd like to hear these papers feel free to join us tomorrow at
12:30 in Adams 211.
PM My prayer for Becky Lynn tonight:
I love you, honey.
PM Jonathan Edwards once wrote:
Resolved: Never, henceforth, till
I die, to act as if I were any way my own, but entirely and
God is asking us to
relinquish all control of our lives. I am doing this as I type. There
are areas in my life right now I cannot control. Conformity to Christ
demands that I lay aside the need to be in control. It's not only in
Ethiopia that I need to be flexible. In fact, my daily existence here in
comfortable America seems like a crash course in flexibility. My work is
not my work; it is God's. I must accept His plan for the journey. I must
never forget that He lovingly takes responsibility for my life.
control. Set my pace. Again, I give you permission to be Lord of my
life. I love you Jesus, and I'm not afraid to shout it from the
PM Think I'll get some writing done while the Mrs. is
away. As I think about my books it occurs to me that some of mine have
done exceptionally well, while others have been abysmal failures in
terms of sales figures. I'm learning to leave these matters in the
capable hands of the Lord. Oswald Chambers once said, "It is only
possible to be humiliated when we are serving our own pride." He's
right. As an author I want to be in control. I want to make sure that
all of my brilliant pieces of literature receive the credit they
deserve. Writing pulls on my time -- and my integrity. A good question
to ask myself is: "Do I write in order that I might be noticed or in
order that God might be noticed?" We writers spend our lives in vain if
we live to call attention to ourselves.
Of course, this
whole blog post has been about me. Argh! Will I ever get this
PM Just sent Becky on her way. The best wife a man
could ask for.
PM Here's a Mother's Day shout out to Nora, our
server at our favorite Mexican restaurant in South Boston. Nora is new
to the area and hails from Kosovo. She met her American husband when he
was stationed in Kosovo with the U.S. Army. Welcome to southern
Virginia, Miss Nora!
Here Becky sports
hew new outfit. Lovely. And what did we order, you ask? B: Chicken
fajitas. Me: Arroz con pollo. Becky, by the way, got a nice discount for
Mother's Day. Gracias, Mexico Viejo!
were well-fed also today. Brother Joel taught us from Deut. 6:1-9 about
"Training Gospel-Centered Children."
A few notable
our obedience out of love.
"We have given
our training and teaching to schools, to church, and to other areas
children don't love God, it won't be fixed by bringing them to
should be the ones training and teaching our children to love the
Lord our God."
Joel did make a
snide remark about his Greek professor at one point during his talk but
I'll overlook it (for now!). What a blessing to be so well taught. As
someone once said, "The Bible is the only book in the whole world that
when you read it the Author shows up." As an aside, the youth led in all
of the public activities in church today -- except for the sermon.
(Sorry, Joel; I know you're young, but you're not THAT young.)
AM Plans for the day: Take Becky to Bethel Hill then
out to dinner. Then send her packing (LOL!). Hope she and Liz enjoy
their Bed & Breakfast tonight! (Jessie is not feeling up to going. You
will be missed, Jessica!)
P.S. Right now
Becky is putting the finishing touches on a new dress she hopes to wear
today. I tell you, it's beautiful. If you twist my arm I just "might"
publish a picture!
AM The word "mother" has several important uses,
including "mother country." Below are the mountains of Burji, the womb
in which my wife developed many years ago. Yet the strong feeling of
attachment has never left her. I will be eternally grateful to God for
allowing me to visit Burji 7 years ago to experience firsthand the
wonders of Ethiopia. It was love at first sight. Ethiopia will never be
"home" for me like it was (and is) for Becky, but it will always hold a
deep place in my heart. Thank you, honey, for introducing me to your
people and for allowing me the joy of serving King Jesus there with you.
AM I've just published part 3 of Becky's series on
suffering -- the Spanish version, that is. Go
here to read it. To read
the English series click on these links:
In her latest essay
Becky asks what our objective in life ought to be. Here's her answer. I
couldn't agree more.
Debemos considerar nuestro objetivo en la vida. Vivir sin el dolor y
el sufrimiento no es un objetivo digno. Pero vivir una vida
creciendo en santidad, creciendo en intimidad con nuestro Salvador,
creciendo en solidaridad con su plan- ¡Esto vale cada precio!
AM Elsewhere I have written:
In the book of 1
Corinthians the apostle Paul is very careful to lay out principles
governing Christian gatherings. He makes it plain that believers did
not gather for public witness to the outside world. These were not
evangelistic services at all. Rather, the church gathered for
fellowship and mutual edification. It was a type of gathering in
which believers came together with differing gifts. Just read 1 Cor.
14 and you will see that this was a bona fide fellowship meeting.
Everything that was done was done in order to build up the church.
Whether you came to this meeting with a psalm, a teaching, or some
other contribution to make, you exercised your gift in the interest
of those around you. “Let all things be done for edification” was
Paul’s watchword. This same view of the church is to be found in
Ephesians 4, where Paul emphasizes that the church is built up only
as each member of the Body does its part. He is emphatic that the
fullness of Christ can never be attained by any one Christian. Each
believer has a gift, and each one must give that gift away to the
Do you agree? If not, why not? If so, are
you putting this truth into practice?
AM A very happy Mother's Day to Betty Lapsley ("mom")
and her eldest daughter Becky Lynn.
How I thank the
Lord for bringing us together over 33 years ago. You both are much
more than a mother and a wife to me -- you are dear sisters in the Lord.
Your continual love, prayers, and encouragement have blessed me in
countless ways. Thanks for your amazing ability to love the unlovely,
for always maintaining your integrity even in the midst of a senseless
world, and for your wonderful sense of humor. I hope each of you enjoys
your corsages today, which are a small token of the great love and
esteem in which you are held by this son and husband. A. W. Tozer once
said, "The impulse to pursue God originates with God, but the outworking
of that impulse is our following hard after Him." Thank you both for
following hard after God. Your example has deeply enriched and shaped my
own life. I trust that on this, your special day, you will be refreshed
with the assurance of God's everlasting love and that you will be drawn
ever closer to His tender heart.
I love you mom!
I love you honey!
PM Praises and a prayer request:
Melesse has fully recovered from his bout with Malaria, Typhoid, Typhus,
and a major stomach problem.
2) Baby Tiblett is
doing fine, as is her mother Bogalech. Evangelist Wolde thanks everyone
in the States for their love and prayers on his family's behalf.
3) Becky talked
with Oshe in Burji today and he reports that the heavy rains are
hindering the construction of our new Ultrasound building. Please ask
the Lord Jesus to make it possible that we can finish the building in
time for Ed and the construction team to install sinks and other items
I trust that all of
you will have a wonderful day tomorrow as you meet with other believers.
The Bible says, "As each has received a gift, employ it for one another
as good stewards of God's varied grace" (1 Pet. 4:10). The Bible says
plainly that the meeting of the church is not to be focused on any one
person or any one set of gifts. Our humility serves us badly when we
shrink away from our responsibility by hiding our gift under a bushel.
The day is coming when each of us will have to give an account to God
for how we have exercised our personal gifts in the body of Christ. We
cannot be excused from our responsibility just because we go to a church
that has good teaching and preaching. To be a steward of God's varied
grace is a great privilege, but it is also a grave responsibility. Let's
all exercise that responsibility wisely as unto the Lord.
PM One of my doctoral students sent along a link to
this provocative essay on China's increasing role in Africa:
The Next Empire. The author, Howard French, notes:
In its recent approach
to Africa, China could not be more different from the West. It has
focused on trade and commercially justified investment, rather than
aid grants and heavily subsidized loans. It has declined to tell
African governments how they should run their countries, or to make
its investments contingent on government reform. And it has moved
quickly and decisively, especially in comparison to many Western aid
The Chinese are is in a full court press
to become Africa's number one trading partner, and they are succeeding.
PM Haying is done for the day. We got up 4 fields.
Actually, most of the hay was sold in the fields and people loaded the
hay themselves (for a discounted price). The temperature was a perfect
85 degrees, but the wind was unpredictable. Gusts meant that I would
have to rake the same row twice before Nate could bale it. But all's
well that ends well. Nate cut another 10 acres today that we hope to get
up on Monday. You agrarian types out there might
enjoy these pix:
1) Nate baling the
field in front of our home, Bradford Hall.
2) Team work does
the job every time!
3) A customer loads
his own hay. Future cuttings will likely go into our barns to be sold
this winter, when the demand will be the greatest.
4) Already it seems
like a drought year, which means people are needing lots of hay for
their horses and cattle.
5) The end of a
satisfying day. Here I'm parking the rake...
6) ...while Nate
parks the baler. We'll need both again soon.
7) Nolan surveys
his vast estates! His latest game is squinting whenever he sees you.
I try not to
glamorize farm life on this blog. It has its harsh and unforgiving
sides. But mostly it is just plain good old-fashioned hard work -- a
healthy work, however, one that puts to you bed at night feeling at
peace with yourself.
PM Alan Knox's
rendering of Phil. 3:17-4:1 contains this statement: "with tears in
my eyes." How that reminded me of the time I first met Tesfai in Alaba,
Ethiopia. His 8-year old daughter had just been "slaughtered" (that was
the term used by the church elders) and her headless body had been
thrown down the village well. All because Tesfai was a follower of Jesus
Christ. I cried. You would have too. I wept for a man who was stooped
over with unspeakable grief. But I also wept for the "enemies of the
cross" who did this to them.
persecution, Tesfai has remained strong. Here he is today. He insists on
loving his enemies and forgiving them.
He practices scandalous love toward the enemies of Christianity in
Alaba. I urge all of us to follow his example.
PM Tomorrow is a big day around here. But the praise
can begin any time. When I see this picture I can hear the Master say:
"This is my beloved daughter, in whom I am well pleased."
PM Interest in my
Greek DVD course seems to be
growing exponentially among private individuals and home schoolers. In case you
haven't seen it yet, here's a teaser. (And yes, I can get a bit excited
about my subject!)
PM Just had a great lunch with Becky. The whole time
we talked about Ethiopia and how difficult and fulfilling the work there
is to us. Believe me, we work with some real gems in the kingdom. What
AM Thanks so much, Eric, for raising again the
perennial question about the Reformers' insistence on
maintaining medieval ecclesiology. I attribute today's neo-sacralism
directly to the Reformers and their faulty theology of the church,
against which the Anabaptists inveighed. Under the tutelage of such
sacralism church leaders today continue to accommodate biblical
Christianity to the Constantinian distortion. Not least is this seen in
the return to medieval theology in which "the Son of Man goes forth to
war, a kingdom to subdue." I continue to maintain that the Anabaptists
were not indebted to the Reformers, were indeed not even a part of them.
I spend a whole chapter in The Jesus Paradigm on this subject
mostly because missions cannot thrive in a climate of sacralism. The
Anabaptists were oblivious to national borders, and so am I. The New
Testament plainly teaches that every Christian is a fulltime minister of
the Lord Jesus Christ, a missionary even, and that every true believer
will experience something of the cross. To this day there is a
hesitation, even on the part of Christians who plainly acknowledge a
debt to the Anabaptists, to import biblical ecclesiology into their
churches. I say shame on us. We should know better.
AM The Defoliator has done his duty and the fruit
trees are visible again.
You know you're a
redneck when you run out of time building a gate for your new fence line
and use a farm vehicle instead. Too funny!
Right now Nate is
cutting another field. Baling later today!
AM Gearing up my ninja lawn mower to mow the orchard,
where the grass is becoming knee high.
AM This is a bit dated, but Josh Mann has posted an
interesting comparison of New Testament introductory texts and how they
deal with the synoptic problem. (My own introduction is included in
the discussion.) Josh concludes:
Perhaps what is needed
is an analysis of how subsequent revisions of textbooks alter their
discussions of the synoptic problem. In other words, have recent
revisions started to take into account the view of Goodacre and
others? In this small selection of texts, I found Blomberg and
Carson/Moo to treat non-Q Markan priority with the greatest fairness
[add Kostenberger here; see below], introducing the reader to the
appropriate sources in the debate. The Lea/Black treatment is brief,
but Q is certainly not assumed. Ehrman virtually assumes Q, though a
student might reasonably access opposing arguments such as The
Case Against Q via the “suggested reading” section. In the end,
I think a ’survey’ textbook by its nature will tend to treat
consensus more thoroughly than dissenting views, but Goodacre makes
a strong case in his post.
PM I'm keeping my eye on a series of storms that are
moving eastward over the Ohio River Valley. I wonder: Did farmers of
yesteryear watch the almanac as closely as I follow the radar?
PM Brian Fulthorp is so right when he
says that "the
'best' translation of the Bible is one people will actually read."
When I was in high school that Bible was the Good News for Modern Man,
with its superb line drawings and glossary.
Today, at least in the New Testament, it is my Greek New Testament, from
which I do most of my preaching and teaching. I don't care whether my
students use the ESV (the faddish Bible these days, or so it seems), the
NASB, the NIV, or any other standard version as long as they will
read it. Of course, I also want them to learn the original languages
so that they can test the accuracy of their translations.
PM Just put Becky to bed, in pain.
... you come down!" (Luke 19:5). What a great invitation!
students, I extend it to you as well. Jesus is not looking for
spectators but participants. Don't be an onlooker when it comes to the
Great Commission. Don't be up a tree when you could be down in the
crowds serving Jesus. Frankly, I'm tired of
bloggers and others who do nothing but criticize and pontificate. Secure
in the cyber-trees, they never come down and do anything for the Cause
of Christ. Their job is to look, observe, criticize, and do everything
they can to maintain their status as bibliobloggers. They are onlookers,
period. What a waste. As long as Jesus' work is unfinished, ours is too.
He said to His disciples, "You must be My witnesses." It was that truth
that changed the life of Hudson Taylor. It was that truth that changed
my life. There is an unfinished work of Christ. Blogging can assist that
work but it can never replace it. It is a scandal for us to talk about
the battle when we refuse to enlist in the army.
calls us, we had better come down from the tree.
McKnight just posted this fantastic picture at his website. It shows the
supposed "backside" of Mount Rushmore.
are a lot like that, aren't they? Our front sides are all so
presentable, so beautiful, so perfect. But go to the back side and you
might see a very different picture. Junk and rubbish do not normally
accumulate where lots of people can see them. We keep up a good front.
But a tour along the backside of the house would be an embarrassment.
God knows what is in the front and in the back of our lives. We
are naked before His eyes. And it behooves us to clean up our backyards
from time to time. Professions of perfection won't cut it for very long
-- not, at least, when God is watching.
Jess just called from South Boston to say they were finishing up a
painting job there, which means that our haying will be postponed until
tomorrow or even later (depending on how dry the grass is).
I've been intending to spread flea and tick granules in our backyard,
though the grass will need to be watered afterwards. I think I'll just
wait until the next thunderstorm! While in the backyard I did notice
just how awfully pretty Becky's roses looked today. (That smooching
couple is Becky and me.)
noticed that the jets were playing tic-tac-toe above Bradford Hall this
evening. I could spend hours watching contrails, couldn't you?
Clarkesville again. My bride is in the mood for a key lime pie, and I am
happy to comply. Food Lion, here I come!
PMI see that
the Contemporvant video is making the rounds this afternoon in the
here, for example). I watched it, and indeed it provides some comic
relief from the tedium of the day. Of course, pointing out the evils of
"contemporary worship" (and emergent worship seems to take the brunt of
the criticism) actually misses the point. We are experts at magnifying
the trivial. The problem with contemporary worship is not that it
artificially whips up joy among Christians -- the same kind of
enthusiasm that was whipped up at my high school football games by the
cheerleaders. No, the problem is the unbiblical notion that the purpose
of the gathering of believers is for worship. It most certainly is not,
as Paul makes clear in 1 Cor. 12-14. Would that Christians learned what
it means to worship 24/7, as we are commanded to in Rom. 12:1-2. How the
old nature wants to take off after every distraction that comes our way.
Sorry, but I doubt that contemporary worship is "contemptible." I much
rather think that what is contemptible is our eisegesis of Scripture. We
must somehow get over the idea that we gather in order to worship,
as well as the idea that we cannot be "church" without our worship
centers and our worship folders and our worship teams and our worship
leaders. We enter to serve and depart to worship!
washed B's car in preparation for her gallivanting on Sunday. Also
washed our dog Sheba.
It was a
Mother's Day present for her (Dayda is her offspring). I figured she had
had enough of that fancy new French perfume she'd been wearing ("Eau de
cheerfully sewing some new summer dresses. I'm off to Clarkesville to
get a Mother's Day gift for one of my precious daughters. Haying will
probably begin around 3:00 pm.
Giving is so
misunderstood and so poorly practiced that I wonder if the way we
practice it is even Scriptural at all. In the church “tithing” or
giving is seen as a line item, a budget item. I allocate X percent
of my income to giving at the local church, taking into account my
other expenses like car payment, mortgages, etc. The picture in the
New Testament is complete surrender and abandonment.
obligated to tithe? David Croteau thinks not, and argues that it is
only our traditionalism that prevents us from following the biblical
instructions about giving. The New Covenant foundation for giving is
always relationship-driven, grace-driven, and love-driven. "Radical
obedience is required," the author states. But Christians who give
less than 10 percent "do not sin." I am impressed with Mr. Croteau's
work. It offers valid, profound, and inspiring direction to all and
especially evangelical Christians.
Glad to see more and more of our students
rethinking the wineskins.
AMOn this day
in 1839 Elisha Hoffman was born in Pennsylvania. He is the composer of
one of my favorite hymns, "I Must Tell Jesus."
story behind the hymn, go
Hoffman wrote, "I cannot bear these burdens alone." Boy, if that doesn't
describe me. I've said this before and I'll say it again: I could not
make it through a single day without Jesus in my life. I am utterly
hopeless and helpless without him. I am not just saying that. I've had
so many failures, so many disappointments, so many regrets in life --
and still do -- that I find myself depending on Jesus daily just
to get by.
"Boy is Dave co-dependent."
finished painting ALL of the porch boards. Congratulations to me!
AMI wrote a
masters thesis at Talbot before beginning my doctoral studies in Basel.
I could do this because the Talbot M. Div. program had a thesis option.
I think this is such a good idea that I've proposed it to my faculty
colleagues at SEBTS. I'm not promising the idea will get anywhere but at
least I've floated it. I would call it an "Honors Thesis" and would
limit it to select group of graduating seniors who possess a high GPA
and show potential for doctoral studies. This would enable many of my
students to go right into a Ph.D. program without having to earn a Th.M.
first (as I did). Good old eccentric me loves the idea, but will it fly?
Congratulations to Andy Bowden and his wife Hannah-Joy on their
announcement. Andy is my "grader" and will begin his Th.M. studies
with me this fall. Let's be sure to keep Hannah-Joy in our prayers.
AMAs a huge
dog lover even I find
this appalling. Just appalling. Besides, how can you determine
whether a mutt is "well-mannered"?
I tell you,
religion is going to the ....
morning I'd like to introduce you to yet another Alaba evangelist.
Remember: these men work in the midst of virulent opposition. The
following information comes from a prayer card that Becky prepared:
Kassa ("Kah-sah") and
his wife Tegeshech have 5 children. He leaves his wife and children
in Alaba Town because it is safe for them. Every 1-2 weeks he
returns from ministering in the town of Beshano. This town is very,
very anti-Christian. It has been featured many times in Voice of the
Martyrs news. Its citizens have expelled all Christians, have
murdered Christian children, have burned Christian homes, etc. It is
very much under the control of the Evil One.
Now the Alaba Town
church has established a "school" to teach the children of
Beshano. This school is designed to serve as a bridge of goodwill,
to soften the heart of the parents thru the children. Kassa is the
teacher for these children. They meet in a rented room from
8:00-10:30am. He has 84 children, which he teaches alone. They are
learning the alphabet, writing, and math...and he is evangelizing
them as he teaches. They pray with each class. We asked him how was
his evangelism/praying received. He told us: "My students' academic
ability is much better than the government students. So the families
are very happy. Some of the families don't like the evangelism, but
those parents who want the education tell them to bring their
complaints to them. So they handle each other, and in the end, I am
free to teach the Gospel through this school."
The Beshano Town
government has refused permission to build a church there, but the
Church Leaders are hoping that in time their hearts will be
softened. There are about 30 believers in the town; they are
currently meeting quietly in each other's homes, knowing that at any
time they could be evicted.
verse is John 3:16. He has two prayer requests:
1) He wants to
establish churches as the Lord opens the door in both Goba
village and Beshano town.
2) He has
kidney and stomach problems that nag at him.
He has a message
for the American believers: "There is a movement among our opponents
to attack Christians. We are trying to legalize our worship in
Beshano town. Now our names are on the 'hit list' of these
opponents. Please pray for protection and courage as we continue the
work of Jesus on earth."
Kassa, we are praying for you!
discussion about the importance of the biblical languages continues at
the Western Seminary blog. Read
The biblical languages in life and ministry. Interestingly, just
yesterday I got yet another email from a student who plans on teaching
beginning Greek in his home church this fall. May your tribe increase!
Goodacre has opened a can of worms with his post
Is the Synoptic Problem tedious? For what it's worth, I've given the
matter some thought (even though I can be hardly called a "Gospels
scholar"), and the results have been published in
Why Four Gospels? A reviewer at
Amazon had this to say about it:
I applaud Professor
David Black for holding his own against the grain of "scholarly"
source and form criticism of the gospels. Black's thesis and
presentation truly lifts the spirits of those who have felt uneasy
with the nonsensical explanations of how the gospels developed that
are so popular among New Testament scholars.
Black identifies the trend among scholars who approach the New
Testament and especially the gospels with a dogmatic presupposition
that any explanation other than what the Church Fathers, early
church, church tradition and faithful Christians have believed and
passed down is to be preferred regardless of its unsubstantiated
speculation, lack of logic and rejection of historical context.
Here Black gives the patristic Fathers their due credit in
validating the gospel origins. Irenaeus, Origen, Clement of
Alexandria, Eusebius, Tertullian, Augustine, Justin, Jerome are all
cited by Black in support of his thesis that Matthew was the first
gospel written amidst the Jerusalem church during the apostolic era,
Luke's gospel followed at the behest of Paul as a gospel to the
Greek Christians, Mark was written as a record of Peter's oral
narration using Matthew and Luke and Peter's elaborations, and John
authored his gospel to give his account of Jesus' ministry,
teachings and claims.
Black does not have to ignore loopholes, reject early church
writers, make leaps of conjecture, rely on speculative form/source
criticism or a fictional document (i.e. "Q" or "L"). His theory fits
perfectly into the historical expansion of the church, the teachings
of the apostles and 2nd&3rd generation church leaders. His theory
supports the acceptance of the four gospels and the rejection of the
pseudographic and gnostic gospels by the church. This I think is the
theory that an objective, faithful study of the gospel origins leads
one to accept.
I applaud Professor Black's work. This is a book written for a lay
audience but welcome to professional scholars and theologians who
have not felt comfortable with the tenuous theories put forth among
academia since the Enlightenment eschewed the supernatural and
ignored church Fathers and tradition as being irrelevant.
Is it asking too much of students of the
Gospels to take a careful look at the external evidence that deals with
the question of synoptic origins? I think not. In short, I'm all for
dispensing with Q. (Thanks to Mark for his lead in this area.) And for
dispensing with "M" and "L" for that matter. I'm not for
rejecting out of hand the patristic testimony, however.
PMI just witnessed
the most beautiful cloud formation as the sun
was setting over Rosewood Farm. This clip hardly does it justice.
Dayda is chewing on something, a piece of cow hide probably. Spectacular
people of Burji happy to see their Becky again? You bet!
It was a
wonderful trip, our visit to Ethiopia a few weeks ago. It revived in us
memories of the land that once belonged to my wife and to which she once
belonged. How many more years we will be able to return to Burji, we do
not know. But one thing always happens whenever we visit Ethiopia: we
realize we can never look into the faces of our fellow believers
there and then close our eyes and turn the other way. Our visit confirmed in
us a faith in God that may have been dimming. It was a positive
affirmation that the good work of the Gospel goes on and on, if not
serenely, then inevitably. These singing believers are a symbol to us of
the great work of reconciliation that the Good News affords. We are one
with them through our union with Christ, whose kingdom transcends all
cultures, indeed creates a new culture. And for that we give thanks.
slowly, I am gradually realizing how much I do love farm life. This,
despite the constant aches and pains that come from the incessant work
projects one always has. With my tennis elbow constantly "talking to
me," I plowed ahead with the painting of the porch floor boards,
although I am disappointed to inform you that I only got about 20 of
them done today (I average 5 an hour).
I've got about 50 more to do, and I hope to get a few more primed
tomorrow morning. But it is definitely slow going. This is, as I've
often said, the third time we've built our porches, and it would be
wonderful if our primed and painted and treated pines lasted for a few
dozen years this time around.
our animals too. Here are Chloe's pups -- out and about, defending
"their" home turf from my dogs Sheba and Dayda when we paid them a visit
this afternoon. To their eminent satisfaction, Daisy came to their
rescue and added her daunting presence to the defense.
territorial people and animals can be. Dogs must defend their territory,
and I love them for it! I continue to enjoy the Angus and their calves
too. Nate somehow managed to move them into the new pasture, and here
they are, reveling in tall stalks of orchard grass and fescue.
Sentimentalist that I am, I miss having goats around, but these cows
evoke a peaceful ambiance that is simply unforgettable. Becky often
says, "One can't worry while watching cattle." She's right, of course.
If it seems very farfetched that I am an incurable animal lover, I'm
sorry. You see, I grew up without animals of any kind (sand sharks don't
it will rain on Saturday, which means that we will likely be getting up
the hay tomorrow, from 4 fields no less. So many of you have said to me
that you'd love to pick up bales with us sometime. How can something be
so brutally tiring and yet so restorative at the same time? I'll never
that's the farm update for today. Don't forget, gentlemen, that this
Sunday is a very special day for our wives who are mothers and for all
the other mothers in our lives. I can rarely find a good Mother's Day
card, but the one I got today is, I think, the perfect one. My hope is
that Becky, Jessie, and Liz will have an unforgettably happy time this
weekend on their getaway to yesteryear.
Becky is up from her nap and feels much better. Pain level a mere 3!
Yall have been praying, haven't you?
gave herself a Nulasta shot and has gone to bed. Her pain is increasing
by the minute it seems. I will monitor her carefully. As we say in
Ethiopia, "God knows." Earlier today Bec was
working on preparations for our June-July trip. Here are some Bible
verses in Amharic she laminated today.
for use by our fulltime evangelist Solomon as he shares Jesus with the
clinic patients and the local villagers in Galana. I once heard someone
say that 80 percent of people in Africa do not have access to even
elementary medical care. In addition, medical staff there tend to be
poorly trained. What good is it to have medical equipment unless it can
be operated properly and efficiently? Becky has therefore been working
tirelessly on preparing teaching materials for our clinic staff in the
operation of the EKG machine, the Pulsometer, the Ultrasound, etc. We
have a good staff, but are they proficient? That is the question.
situation in America any different? Our hospitals are full of doctors
and nurses and staff who hardly seem healthy. Many are overweight, even
obese. Our affluence and unhealthy lifestyles can be very debilitating.
Our Western world is as much in need of health education, it seems, as
the poorer Majority World.)
small clinic in Ethiopia provides good health care, but our primary
desire is to see people possessing the new life that Jesus came to give
us -- life of a totally different quality about it. It is the cross, not
the stethoscope, that is at the heart of Christianity. Below is a
picture of our evangelist Solomon. Last March I had the privilege of
spending a day with him as he went door to door sharing the love of
Jesus with the villagers of Galana. I cannot thank God enough for giving
us a Timothy/Epaphroditus/Barnabas all rolled into one. And I can't wait
to return to Galana to meet the new believers that Solomon and the other
clinic staff have led to the Savior.
the day include running to the bank and post office, mowing/edging,
painting floor boards, and getting some writing done on Godworld.
And this is my "day off"!
I mention blogging?
the day (Aldous Huxley):
Experience is not what happens to you; it's what you
do with what happens to you.
University announces an opening in
edition of TheChristian Century is
reporting that enrollment figures at the nation's seminaries are
holding steady despite the souring economy. Of special interest to me
was this statement:
The 13 largest schools
(with enrollments above 1,000) are all known for their theologically
conservative perspective. The largest is Fuller Theological Seminary
(4,038), followed by two Southern Baptist schools—Southwestern in
Fort Worth, Texas (2,591), and Southern Baptist in Louisville,
Kentucky (2,585). Dallas Theological Seminary and Gordon-Conwell
Theological Seminary are fourth and fifth largest in size at 1,974
and 1,892 students respectively.
The report also
discusses the role of extension campuses (such as Fuller has in the
Pacific Northwest, where I have twice taught during summer school
recently tweeted this cool
picture he saw in a school parking lot.
Seminary does not make
you any more spiritual than other Christians, is not your ticket to
unlock the mysteries of Scripture, will not make you any holier or
more spiritual than your fellow Christians.
And yet we call it a Master of "Divinity"!
Nate, Matt, and I are doing this Mother's Day? Sending our wives off to
a Virginia Bed & Breakfast! We intend to spoil them royally. Nolan will
go along as their "chaperone."
This ante-bellum home built in 1855
includes a spacious, secluded, family-friendly suite with two bedrooms,
a sitting room with queen sofa bed, two rollaway beds, a kitchenette and
laundry, a private tub and shower bath, private entrances, baby's crib,
and a covered brick-lined patio. It is located in the middle of Nowhere,
VA, and is perfect for a ladies' get-away. On Monday morning our brides
will be treated to a delicious breakfast prepared just for them by the
proprietor. What fun!
ever seen a prettier picture?
cut several of our fields, including the "front yard" of Bradford Hall.
Soon we will rake and bale this hay, and then put it up in our barns.
Yep, "It's harvest time!" and I couldn't be more excited. It's the
payoff for all the work we did over the winter fertilizing our fields.
know that the seasons are the same for the farmer and the church? When
it is harvest time in the world, it is also harvest time among the
nations. I'm haunted by a verse in the book of Jeremiah: "The harvest is
past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved!" (Jer. 8:20). Folks,
the night is coming when we can no longer do the work of world
evangelization. I have only "one candle to burn," and I would rather
burn it out where people are living in darkness than in a land that is
flooded with light, to paraphrase Falconer. Students, if you want to sit
around debating theological puzzles, you will need to find another
ill or well, the cross, the crown/The rainbow or the thunder/I fling
my soul and body down/For God to plow them under.
way to outlive yourself is to be a harvesting Christian. We are debtors
to everyone to get the message out. We owe it to them; we owe it to God.
Incidentally, while I'm thinking about global missions, please pray for
my president, Danny Akin, who is currently in Sudan doing bush
evangelism and church planting along with the local pastors there. To
follow him you can go to his
Twitter account. Meanwhile,
harvest time, folks!
enjoyed a great supper (Becky cooked curried chicken -- yummy) and am
off to take the dogs for a walk on their farm.
after her chemo Becky reports NO PAIN! Praise the Lord and thank you so
much for praying!
It is not our Bible knowledge, our
seminary education, our buildings, our programs, our dress, our
music, or all the oodles of other things that enter our daily lives
that separate us as a testimony of being His disciples, that tells
others Jesus is the Sent One.
No….it is our love & unity. Love for
each other, and Unity in the Gospel.
In reality, if the intention of using
a birth control method is to better plan and provide for one’s
family (i.e., number and timing of children) then what is the
difference between using a natural method as compared to an
artificial one? Personally, I see nothing in Scripture which forbids
the use of artificial methods and no reason to introduce some new
“law” and the beginning of a Christian “Talmud”!
Goodacre links to the latest
Bibledex video on Hebrews. Oh my,
how I wish we would stop misquoting Origen as though he were agnostic
with regard to the authorship of Hebrews. Really, scholars should know
better. To wit:
And therefore I think it sufficient
to quote this one testimony of
Paul from the Epistle to the
Hebrews, in which he says [Heb 11:24-26], “By faith Moses, when he
was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s
daughter; choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of
God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; esteeming the
reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of the
the apostle Paul
warns us [Heb 2:1]: “Therefore we ought to give the more earnest
heed to the things which we have heard, lest perhaps we should let
In another Epistle also, when
referring to the tabernacle,
he [the reference is to Paul]
mentions the direction which was given to Moses [Heb 8:5]: “Thou
shalt make (all things) according to the pattern which was showed
thee in the mount.”
Moreover, in the Epistle to the
Hebrews, discoursing of those who belong to the circumcision,
writes [Heb 8:5]: “who serve for an
ensample and shadow of heavenly things.”
openly says of them [Heb 8:5], that “they serve unto the example and
shadow of heavenly things.”
the apostle [Paul]
says with reference to the law [Heb
8:5], that they who have circumcision of the flesh, “serve for the
similitude and shadow of heavenly things.”
I will show, however, from what
statements of Paul
I have arrived at this understanding. He says [Heb 9:26], “But now
once in the consummation of ages, He was manifested to take away sin
by the sacrifice of Himself.”
To show more clearly, however, what
we mean, let us take the illustration employed by
the apostle Paul
in the Epistle to the Hebrews, where he says [Heb 6:7-8], “For the
earth, which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and
bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, will
receive blessing from God; but that which beareth thorns and briers
is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing, whose end is to be burned.”
And it is in reference to this
Jerusalem that the apostle
[Paul] spoke, as one who,
“being risen with Christ, and seeking those things which are above,”
had found a truth which formed no part of the Jewish mythology. “Ye
are come,” says he [Heb 12:22], “unto Mount Sion, and unto the city
of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable
company of angels.”
For the word is used
by our Paul
in writing to the Corinthians, who were Greeks, and not yet purified
in their morals…. Now the same writer, knowing that there was a
certain kind of nourishment better adapted for the soul, and that
the food of those young persons who were admitted was compared to
milk, continues [Heb 5:12-14]: “And ye are become such as have need
of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is
unskilful in the word of righteousness; for he is a babe. But strong
meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by
reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and
For the author of the Epistle to the
Hebrews, in speaking of the prophets, and what they suffered, says
[Heb 11:37], “they were stoned, they were sawn asunder, they were
slain with the sword.” …some one hard pressed by this argument may
have recourse to the opinion of those who reject this Epistle as not
being Paul’s; against whom I must at some other time use other
arguments to prove that it is
reflects on the release of his
latest book. I could wish that all publishers were as forthright about
their thoughts and emotions.
Users of this lexicon will surely
conclude that Professor Muraoka has given lexicographers a
much-needed stimulus for creative engagement in their craft and that
he has in particular taken on the challenge of septuagintal semantic
hazards with panache. He has indeed produced what will serve as
fundamental material for editions that are certain to refine what is
already very choice grain.
planning on taking my LXX class this fall, you will want to consider
purchasing this resource. For the Amazon link, go
KJV-Only debate is the topic of
Arthur Sido’s latest contribution to
cyber-world. What are these people thinking! Of all the weird notions
Christians can come up with, attacking modern translations has got to be
one of the dumbest. Arthur extends the discussion (rightly, in my
opinion) into the area of academic credentials. If you’re going to brag
about your “doctorate” you should at least have the gumption to tell us
it’s from an unaccredited diploma mill. And to think of all the gullible
believers who will glom onto the KJV-Only fallacies.
The Accidental Blog, Sarah briefly reviews
Post-Charismatic by Ron McAlpine.
more and more of these books that are being honest with the excesses of
the Charismatic movement. It is a mistake to ignore the power of the
Holy Spirit, but we should never detach His work from the scriptural
context in which it alone can be understood. If we do we will create a
gravely distorted spirituality.
Blessed are those who stink at
religion because they get God's promised rule anyway.
Blessed are those who don't fight
back because they inherit what everybody fights to get, the world!
Blessed are those who are not the
life of the party, because they will be comforted.
Blessed are those who feel the lack
of justice, because they will be filled.
Blessed are those who show mercy,
because they will be showed mercy.
Blessed are those who do do right
from their hearts because they will see God.
Blessed are those who make peace
because they will be adopted by God.
Blessed are those who are destroyed
outright for the cause of justice because they get God's promised
writing reverberates with such passion that I want to stand up and shout
delivered 100 bales to Bethel Hill, NC, yesterday. Tonight, as the sun
set, we loaded another 100 bales for delivery to Durham, NC, tomorrow.
God is good.
must read Allan Bevere's
The Prodigal Son -- in the Key of F. It's a good chuckle! By the
way, Allan's newest book is about to be released. Here's the blurb I
wrote for the publisher:
I think increasingly that the whole
trouble in the church today is that our
idea of God is so tragically inadequate.
We forget who God is, and this is partly
due to our neglect to study the Old
Testament Scriptures. Now that is
exactly the opposite position taken by
the early church. They found in the Old
Testament the revelation of God and His
ways. This is why I commend to you Allan
Bevere’s latest book, The Character of
Our Discontent. You will realize that
the disuse of the Old Testament is a
serious neglect that has far-reaching
consequences. You will also be reminded
that all the essential elements of the
Gospel are present in the Old Testament
revelation. Read Allan’s book and be
drawn back into the depths of the heart
information on The Character of Our Discontent, go
thanks to our hosts on Sunday at Olivet Baptist Church and Mount
Anderson Baptist Church. Becky and I enjoy nothing more than connecting
local churches in the U.S. with local churches in Ethiopia. This was our
first visit to Olivet.
I spoke on
"Jesus, the Model Missionary" during a church-wide breakfast, then we
spoke in the men's and women's Sunday School classes as well as in the
showed our slides, then I wrapped things up with a challenge to become
new pastor, Matt Rummage, served with us in Burji. It was a joy to get
reconnected with him.
evening we spoke at Mount Anderson.
manning our display table and watching people try to play a tune on the
thumb harp. It requires talent I don't have!
Becky and I challenged the congregation to greater involvement in global
evangelization. Our message is very simple: As the Lord opens doors, we
are to walk through them in obedience and love, whether in Ethiopia or
huge thank you to all who so warmly welcomed us!
her penultimate chemo session today at UNC. I am amazed by the demands
her treatments have made on us. The arduousness of the regime, the sheer
tenacity it requires, demands a stamina I never thought I had in me.
Some days I feel much older than my 57 years. It's as if I've lived two
lifetimes. I am stunned by the power of something so small and evil to
destroy. As I try to wrap my rational mind around this reality, the path
becomes all the more confusing when one sees chemo patients who are
there because their nightmare has recurred. The initial diagnosis was a
smackdown, and every ensuing week of treatments tests our perseverance.
Lance Armstrong, who survived testicular cancer, put it well when he
said about his own illness: "What it teaches is this: pain is temporary.
Quitting is forever." I've been involved in some heavy crises in my life
but nothing as trying as this battle with cancer. It continues to be
hugely demanding. But I also get to see the power of sheer dogged
Holy-Spirit inspired tenacity and the warm reality of God's strength
that overcomes our weakness. I often think to myself: Which is more
"newsworthy" -- that B should be healed of her cancer miraculously, or
that we should endure the hammer blow together? I desire to have the
wise eyes to delight in God and the courage of Job who after suffering
went on living. By faith I perceive the cross within the mysterious plan
of God for our lives.
God. I know He cares for us. But I can't wait for the ordeal to be over
with. I'm a little nervous about our meeting with the oncologist in 3
weeks. It will be the end of one long road and the beginning of another.
What will become of Becky? The answer is unknown to me. So I wait. My
goal is to be as trustworthy a husband as I can possibly be. In the
meantime, I want to savor all the good things in my life -- my
relationship and fellowship with God, my heavenly treasure, my
citizenship above, my family and friends, and the privilege of bearing
the Gospel to others. The pain is indeed temporary, and I'm not about to
like to introduce you to two of the best pancake flippers in the entire
Earlier it was wake-up time on
the front porch.
Then it was off to Caleb's
soccer game, at which Mama B outdid herself in cheering on the home
Sunny days call for suntan
lotion, which Isaac gladly applies to his Mama B.
In an hour or so we leave for
the mountains of western NC, where we will be speaking 4 times tomorrow.
Then we rush home for B's 8:30 chemo treatment on Monday morning. All in
all, a great weekend, and it's not over yet.
Maikai kakahiaka! May Day is "Lei Day" in Hawaii. Everyone wears leis on
this grand day, even the alpha males. Nice tradition.
AMWe were up
with the sun. Had a quiet night under a full moon, despite a rather
exciting story (something about $100 surfing lessons by a beach bum on
the Outer Banks who didn't even know to surf and who captured the hens
who then got away by playing "Spooky Jooky"....). Right now we're
picking up our bedding and gettin' ready to make the most deliciousest
pancakes this side of the Mississippi.