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April 2005 Blog Archives

Saturday, April 30

9:22 PM "There is no pit so deep that God's love is not deeper still." This is the message of a wonderful movie we just enjoyed as a family. Dear reader, if you have never experienced the love of God through the Lord Jesus Christ, I pray you will do so this very day. "This is how God loved the world: He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him might not perish but have eternal life."

5:51 PM Saturday shout-out to all who attended our Student Day here at the farm, including lots of little ones. The food was plenteous and the weather delightful. In addition to sharing sweet fellowship together, we took a special love offering for the church in Southern Ethiopia, which totaled an amazing $517.00. Mrs. Black and I enjoyed having all of you here, and thank you so very much for your generosity toward your brothers and sisters in East Africa.

We have been blessed with several students from Asia including these from South Korea (where I have had the privilege of teaching on 6 different occasions). These men have just introduced themselves to my thoroughbred Traveler.

The lunch line wended its way through the "Lee Room" (you can just barely see the General's bust on the fireplace mantel) and into the formal dining room. Here students from different classes are getting acquainted, including Mike Rudolph (left) and Ben Laird (right). 

Our table was spread with dishes from several continents, including my all-time favorite -- Korean Pulgogi with Kim Chi. 

A young man studies his next move. In the background is our reed organ that Nathan played to the delight of all.

Emmanuel Cakpo is my personal assistant and hails from the West African nation of Benin. It was great hearing him speak French with his Francophone sons. 

Shiloh and Sheba were big hits as always and graciously allowed themselves to be pampered and loved on.  

Friday, April 29

7:42 PM The latest addition to our home page is called Every Member a Minister.

3:51 PM I've got to hand it to the new Pope. He speaks Italian, German, French, English, Spanish, and Latin. And he likes to travel; he has already said he will attend World Youth Day in Cologne in August. Hmmm, maybe he can get me into the Vatican Library to see Codex Vaticanus?

Phil Payne examining Bibliorum Sacrorum Graecorum Codex Vaticanus B

3:35 PM As the persecution of Christians increases in Eritrea (a neighbor to Ethiopia), the church is asking for prayer.

3:31 PM You'll never guess where they just opened up a surfing beach.

Aloha Yo!

1:27 PM ...Mr. John Lofton, whom I had the privilege of meeting when I gave the election sermon at the Constitution Party's Convention in Valley Forge last year, defends the true pro-life position in this excellent essay. It reminds me that the gravest danger we face in America today is from ourselves, not the opposition. This is perhaps most clearly seen in the plethora of public officials who say that although they hold an antiabortion view themselves they would never dream of "imposing" their views on society. John, I appreciated this reminder that all law is in fact some form of legislated morality, and the only question is whose morality will dominate.

By the way, some of you will recall John's eloquent response to Ken Gentry's opposition to third party candidates. You can read it at the Vision Forum website.

11:49 AM Izzy, that's one of my all-time favorite Groucho lines.

Why I Love Marx

10:08 AM How would you like to ride around in this?

10:06 AM Pope's coat of arms to show head of Ethiopian.

9:58 AM A dark day in North Carolina.

9:25 AM Tomorrow is Student Day at Bradford Hall from 10:00 to 5:00. Lunch will be served at 11:30. Students from any of my classes are welcome to come with their families. Email me if you need directions.

9:19 AM Time to get caught up on a few emails. Buddy Walker sent me this very nice letter:

Wonderful essay. One part caught my attention. I think the main thing
that is missing in the seeker sensitive, etc. "churches" is reverence
for God. He's "the Man upstairs" and other stupid, sacrilegious,
irreverent title. These pastors should be required to read the parts of
the Bible where the writers are totally overawed in His presence, such
as Isaiah, or John in Revelation where he fell at His feet as dead. I'm
always appalled at the familiar, buddy-buddy way some "pastors" refer
the the God of the universe. Most of them wouldn't refer to their
senators in the manner they refer to our Lord and Saviour.

And here's a response to our essay Bound by Conscience

THANK YOU and AMEN, AMEN! Excellent Article.

Finally, we just received a wonderful email from Ethiopia. When we met first Bereket  in his village last November, he was working in the shop of a man named Beyene. Bereket is now back at home and doing well, both physically and spiritually, as this email from Beyene shows. (Note that the Austin and McNutt families are specifically mentioned!)

Dear Mrs Black,

      How are things in verginia? I wish every thing is cool in you.

I wrote you this short line to tell you the returning of Bereket, your son, to Gondar in safe. he arrived here yesterday in the morning around 3am.I picked him at the air-port and brought to my house. He is good and the surgery is now already healing, I asked him if it has pain, but no.he told me about those kind people in addis abeba and he would never forget the time he spent there. all the people are very kind and helped him in many ways besides you, they gave him a cloth, very sufficient food, even they let him a phone to give a call any where he like, so that we had been meeting once in a week. throguh the phone. now he is a  little home sick about them especially samuel, b/che did many things and never let him to be alone even for a seconds.

       Thank you for the items you sent me through Bereket, your son. he gave me the shooes, a pair of socks, the nick tie, and so on thank you very much for your kindness and may God let me to pay your greatfullness.

     Bereket is very happy in you and always thank God the father who gave him a kind mom and dad he also thank people those who sent him a card, letter as wel as money for his surgery. I think mony people  know  bereket, since you introduced him through website so that he order you to pass his thanks and reguards for those who helped him in praying and donation for his surgery. he passed his greetings for Austin's familly, that is mr and mrs Austin Joshua, Jacob, Julia, Joy and Jessicahe also he  gave his reguards to Stephen Macnut and his family. totaly, just say hello for the people who knows him.

       I also would like to say hi your son Natan.


            Beyene and your son Bereket (from fellasha Village)

                 Take care

Thursday, April 28

8:01 PM The latest installment on our home page is titled Paper Perfect Churches.

7:09 AM "I got a phone call from a neighbour who said there was an unusual happening going on at the tennis courts and they weren't playing doubles."

7:04 AM My namesake likes being a gift. But he doesn't think too much of gift control. Stumped? Read on.

6:53 AM Have you ever seen such a meenie? They're saying, "We've been working hard too, daddy. And look --  we're begging soooo politely."

6:49 AM I'm praying for you, young man. I know it's scary, as I had my tonsils taken out in the hospital when I was about your age. But remember: The Lord Jesus is with you every step of the way, and so are your parents. Love, Dr. Black.

6:30 AM Seen this yet?

The next time you hear a politician use the words “billion” casually, think about whether you want that politician spending your tax dollars. A billion is a difficult number to comprehend, but one advertising agency did a good job of putting that figure into perspective: 

A billion seconds ago, it was 1959. 

A billion minutes ago, Jesus was alive. 

A billion hours ago, our ancestors were living in the Stone Age. 

A billion dollars ago was only 8 hours and 20 minutes, at the rate Washington spends it.

6:25 AM You can check your blog's readability by clicking here

6:14 AM Next Monday we welcome another visitor to Bradford Hall. Here's a shot of our most popular guest room, with its cozy wood-burning fireplace. We call it the Renn Room since we purchased and retrieved most of the moldings and doors from the historic Renn House in Granville County, NC (ca. 1790).

Wednesday, April 27

5:49 PM The latest addition to our home page is called America's Harsh Winter.  

7:28 AM As you can see, I've got Ethiopia on my mind this morning. Here is the Intermediate Greek class at the Evangelical Theological College in Addis Ababa last October. I gave each student an inscribed copy of my It's Still Greek to Me, their textbook for the course. Beforehand they had been using photocopies of certain pages due to the prohibitive cost of imported books.

Becky served in the clinic in Shashamane. Here she is with a proud mother and her firstborn. Becky delivered the baby. 

These men were children when they studied under Mr. Lapsley in grade school. Today they are church leaders in Ethiopia. Becky and I held a special dinner in their honor, and we videotaped their testimonies to show Becky's mom and dad. Each of them had the highest praise to God for the Lapsleys' ministry among them 50 years ago.

These street urchins now have a home in Addis thanks to SIM missionaries. Using her flannel graph, Becky taught these precious girls about the love of Jesus.  

This is the school that my father-in-law built in Hosanna. Today over 3,000 children are in attendance, 1500 in the morning and 1500 in the afternoon. During the lunch break I saw a mule standing around and asked its owner if I could go for a little ride. To my surprise, he consented. You should have heard the glee among the children as this crazy American pranced over hill and dale. Becky got a photo after the fateful ride. The mule's owner is to my right.

This crate lid was being used in Ethiopia as part of a book shelf when we stumbled upon it on our trip to Hosanna last November. My father-in-law had used it to send a bath tub to their mission station back in 1955! Becky and I decided to bring it home with us. Here we are presenting it to Mr. Lapsley at an Ethiopian restaurant in Raleigh. You can imagine his joy and surprise when he saw it. You can just make out the words "HOSANNA" and "B N LAPSLEY" on the underside. Becky, by the way, is wearing a traditional Ethiopian dress.

Yesterday 14-year old Bereket returned to his village near Gonder to await the call for his cornea transplant in Addis Ababa. He has been given an A+ rating for his transplant eligibility. The doctor thinks the surgery could happen as early as June. Before Bereket left Addis he was able to hand deliver gifts that Becky sent for all those who assisted him during his stay in the capital.

Yesterday I received Buddy Walker's eyeglasses for the Ethiopian church leaders. If you have any old glasses lying around and would like them to be used by elderly pastors and evangelists, we would be happy to distribute them in Ethiopia this summer. You may send them to Bradford Hall, 2691 White House Road, Nelson, VA, 24580.

Tuesday, April 26

7:58 PM I just checked out from the library this book that details one of the most amazing stories of escape and recapture from German POW camps. Time to light a fire and settle down for cozy read.

7:50 PM Kristen over at Walking Circumspectly continues her discussion of a woman's design in the plan of God. This is an excellent series that can be read with profit by all God's people.

7:44 PM The latest entry on our home page is called Bound by Conscience. By the way, one of the stops on our Grand Reformation Tour this September will be the city of Worms. Please consider joining us.

6:09 AM Yesterday I linked to this essay. Here's one response I received via email:

I have to agree with the Austins. Too many "church people" become just
exactly that---"church people." And they think they're serving Christ
when they're really just "doing church." I know because I've been there.
I was, all at the same time, a SS teacher, deacon, lay preacher in a
nursing home, on the pulpit committee, communion preparer/server, usher, shut-in visitor, and probably a couple of other things that I now
forget. And I thought I was sooooooo spiritual and really serving the
Lord. Until one day I just got---BOOM!---totally burned out with do, do,
do, do, do, do, do. I'm sure there are many others who have been in the
same boat. It's the old story; 20%f the people do 80% of the giving and
80% of the work in any "church"....

Our Lord never meant for his servants to be "energizer bunnies" in that way. He said "Go." Not "Go, go, go, go, go, go, go, go, go, go, go, go and keep on going to serve a "church."

"My yoke is easy and my burden is light."

6:03 AM Here we are enjoying dessert at Bradford Hall with our revival speaker Brad Reynolds (far left) and friends of Averett Baptist Church. Standing is the hostess with the mostest, who set a most beautiful table. To her right are our precious pastor and his wife, Horace and Joyce Murray, who celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in grand style last week. How we love this precious couple and all our fellow believers at ABC. You will not find sweeter people this side of heaven.

5:50 AM Only 35 days to our departure for Ethiopia.

5:46 AM Don't forget to honor your secretary this Wednesday.

5:40 AM It's back to school day after a great week putting in our garden beds and hosting guests here at the Hall. The only thing I missed was riding due to a head cold I caught on Wednesday. Traveler, my lean, mean, running machine, says "Ready when you are."

Monday, April 25

5:46 PM Don't you be puttin' the Austins in a home school box. (This is a great post, Julie and John.)

5:25 PM This just in:

I visit your site often and have high regard for your writing.  Please keep up the great work !
Have you commented in any of your essays re the PURPOSE DRIVEN LIFE phenomenon ?
                                                                    Doug Brinson

Thank you, Doug, for the suggestion, but lately I've been a bit preoccupied with teaching in various churches on the topic of The Scripture-Driven Church.  

5:21 PM Tonight my gifted wife hosts 9 for supper, including our revival speaker (and my esteemed seminary colleague) Dr. Brad Reynolds. Fresh home-made bread and three (3!) different home-cooked soups bless the menu. And this ain't nothing special - I eat this good all the time.

5:16 PM I sit here at my pooter enjoying the latest addition to the Bradford Hall (well, the Bradford Pond) family - mama duck, papa duck, and 5 little ducklings. We first saw mama emerge from the brush last week with her brood, while papa stood guard against predators (including a sprite little puppy over at the big house who seems to have a killer instinct). As long as they stay within the fenced pasture area they should be safe from Little Miss Sheba. Haven't been able to get close enough yet for pics, but we're having a blast watching the "fowl play" through our binos. (Pics soon.)

10:17 AM Good news for my adopted second home.

9:58 AM Monday morning shout-out to Ben and Erin Hames, who spent a couple of days with us at Bradford Hall chilling out and preparing for their move back to Georgia. Ben is completing his M.Div. at Southeastern and Erin is planning on entering law school in the fall. May God richly bless you both as you follow His leading in your life.

9:50 AM Blogs may or may not improve your busi-ness, but they sure will make you busi-er.

9:43 AM Chris Yokel on the sword and the Spirit:

Christian Heroism in J.R.R. Tolkien

9:33 AM Quote of the day (Abraham Kuyper):

When principles that run against your deepest convictions begin to win the day, then battle is your calling, and peace has become your sin; you must, at the price of dearest peace, lay your convictions bare before friend and enemy, with all the fire of your faith.

9:22 AM Here's an interesting discussion of distance education. I hope to post an essay on this topic soon. 

9:20 AM So you think you know German?

9:12 AM Oh no, not another bad rap for the city where I lived in Switzerland. Inventing LSD was bad enough.

David Reid

Saturday, April 23

10:27 PM Here's a great post by Darrell Dow on the pope. Darrell, I've been meaning to write a similar essay, but you say it much better than I ever could!

10:14 PM For Scott Brown --  surfing at Huntington Beach. Can't you just feel the wave? Have a great Lord's Day, bro!

10:08 PM DBO reader Greg Hyler sends this link to World Net Daily. Thanks, brother.

9:59 PM If you are a John Owen fan (like I am), you'll want to check this out.

6:41 PM Buddy Walker had this response to our essay on names:

I think I would change my name to Weeble. Remember them? As in 2 Cor. 4:8-9.


Nice choice, Buddy.  

6:26 PM Tomorrow we wrap up our series on The Scripture-Driven Church at the Raleigh Chinese Christian Church. My thanks to Elder Don Hong and all the RCCC staff for making my visits so enjoyable (including the after-church fellowship supper with great Chinese food plus a touch of Korean Kim Chi!). Here's my outline for tomorrow's message. Most of the time will be spent reading the passages listed in parentheses in order to allow the Scriptures to speak for themselves.

The New Testament Church Meeting

1. Jesus Christ is the sole head of the church (Eph. 5:23; Col. 1:18).

2. Every believer is a priest unto God (1 Pet. 2:5; Rev. 1:5-6) and a minister (Rom 12:4-8).

3. No single member is to be dominant (1 Cor. 12:7-11).

4. Church meetings are to be participatory (1 Cor 14:26-31).

a. The doctrine called “Hekastology” (v. 26, “each one”).

b. No tension between mutual participation (v. 26) and an orderly church service (v. 40).

c. Each saint can be involved if so prompted (cf. Col. 3:16).

5. Leaders have the responsibility of equipping the saints (Eph. 4:11-16).

a. The saints are the ones who “do the work of the ministry” (v.12).

b. The Body’s growth is directly related to its members’ ability to function (“which every joint supplies,” “the proper working of each individual part,” “for the building of itself up”).

6. Mutual encouragement should be a strong focus of every gathering (Heb. 10:24-25; Rom 15:14).

7. More than pastors are allowed to instruct the church (1 Cor 14:26; Acts 13:1; Rom. 12:7; 1 Cor 12:29).

8. The corporate teaching by the pastor-teachers is not limited to one pastor (1 Tim. 5:17; 1 Thess. 5:12).

6:18 PM As a big fan of WW II escape stories, I was glad I happened across this story about the infamous Colditz in Germany. This so-called "escape proof" castle saw 11 British officers make home runs back to England. An amazing place indeed.

The imposing Colditz castle

Below: A still from the 1955 British war movie, The Colditz Story.  

Film still

12:22 PM The latest entry on our home page is called What's In A Name?

10:33 AM Saturday shout-out to all our agrarian friends. I thought yall might enjoy this overview of Rosewood Farm, with Bradford Hall in the center left and Nathan's farm in the center right of the photo. We are now preparing our pastures for their annual hay crop. Last year the Lord provided us with an un-heard of 4 cuttings of horse quality hay, most of which we sold to buyers from as far away as Rocky Mount, NC. One of our goals this spring is to complete the fencing in our main pastures so that we can rotate the livestock. Currently we are up to 5 head of cattle and 9 goats (8 females and one billy, so we hope to increase our goat population this summer). By the way, if you are interested in reading about the meaning (and myths!) of agrarian living, you simply must read this essay by my friend Franklin Sanders. And to all who are getting ready to grow their edibles and adorables, Happy Planting!

10:16 AM Lady Carmon is in a confessional mode in this excellent blog post.

10:12 AM Buddy Walker responds to this essay.

Interesting article. However, like your reader who sent in the link, I
fear the writer is missing the whole point. They say Rick Warren is
something people are running "to." I think he's one of the things people
are running "from." It's almost impossible to find a church that isn't
using his materials and ideas anymore. I certainly couldn't find one in
this area so I gave up looking. One of my criticisms of most churches is
their music. I love the old hymns AND the new hymns. The key word being "hymns." I personally DESPISE repetition and just can not abide the little choruses (I refer to them as jingles) where one sings the first
couple of lines twice or more, then another couple of lines and then the
first couple over a couple of more times. That is so inane and
meaningless to me. We have hundreds of theologically sound hymns
available to uplift, encourage, and inspire us. The "Sesame Street" type
jingles do absolutely nothing for me.

And I understand Warren also puts out "canned sermons" or sermon
outlines to follow his 40 days program. In my former church, I could
tell within the first 5 minutes or so of the pastor's sermon when he was
following someone else's outline. I could get more from reading one of
Spurgeon's sermons at home. I've tried preaching someone else's sermons and could never make it fly. Maybe others can, but not me.

But I think this is one of the things, (or a couple) from which the
"stayaway saints" are fleeing. They, and I, are seeking true,
meaningful, heartfelt worship to, and service for our Living Saviour.
Not happy clappy, feel good, what's in it for me, services. Perhaps I'm
wrong. But that is what I've seen and heard in my personal experience.

I've read on some websites that people see a huge revival happening in
this country. I must ask, "Where?" I certainly don't see it. Not real,
true Biblical revival such as we see in Acts. Although I would truly
love to see that since I see no hope for this country or this world
unless it comes. I pray for it. I hope all Christians are praying
likewise. And for the soon coming of our Lord Jesus.

In Christ,


Friday, April 22

1:54 PM Believe me, this would not work in southern Virginia.

1:07 PM Work on the farm never ends. Here we are putting in our raised garden beds behind Bradford Hall.

Our landscaper friend Scott helped us with the project. In the background are the carriage house (right) and smoke house (left). These buildings were "rejects" from neighboring farms that Nate and I took apart and reassembled. As you can see, we are trying for the "old" look in everything we do (well, gravel excepted).

11:20 AM Islam is on the march in Africa.

11:05 AM A pastor from Baltimore had this request:


May we print your article “My Big Fat Greek NT” on the back of our weekly bulletin?  And may we occasionally print in our bulletin other pieces you’ve written? 

I am honored that he asked. My response was to say that he (and anyone else) is welcome to use whatever I write in any way that would glorify God.  

10:55 AM My good friend Buddy Walker (who also happens to be an avid fisherman) has joined our "eyeglasses ministry" for Ethiopian pastors and evangelists:

I finally got them on the way. I had to put a screw in one pair and
couldn't find one and that caused a delay.  Three pair of good
prescription glasses and one pair of reading glasses. I keep a couple of
those around. One in my tackle box of course. :-)

How I thank the Lord Jesus that He places the desire to help the Ethiopian church on so many hearts. Thank you, Buddy, and thanks to everyone else who has joined the cause.

10:42 AM My wife has been preparing Ethiopian coffee at home lately. Did you know that, according to one ancient tradition, coffee was discovered by a young Ethiopian goatherd?

10:33 AM Surfing is more ancient than even I thought. (Below: A Hawaiian petroglyph of a surfer.)

Hawaiian petroglyphs can be found at various points along the coast.

10:21 AM Before my wife and I went to Germany as summer missionaries in 1978, I taught myself the language and also read everything I could get my hands on about the German people. In view of the pope's German background, I recently reread this book that covers all the bases (though it is now a bit dated). The author was a GI in WW II and has some fascinating tales to tell about his experiences in the final allied push in 1945.

10:15 AM Long-time DBO reader Jim Cutler sends the following link about Bedside Baptists, Pillowtop Pentecostals, Comforter Charismatics, and Eiderdown Evangelicals:


I found this article to be both insightful and troubling.  You may have seen it already.

I wonder if “churches” are catching on to this whole “church as a body of believers” underground.  They don’t seem to like that people would get together and minister to one another rather than being needy.  Note the continuous worry over financial losses.  Where did our Lord ever indicate that He needed our money?  He owns the cattle on a thousand hills!

God bless you

10:12 AM This essay on ancient Greek is out of this world.

10:10 AM YARDS, GOD-STYLE: Since moving to the country, I have changed my "philosophy" (if one can call it that) about mowing and weeding. I would add to this category raking leaves. So when my son (whose farm is already au naturel) pointed out this essay to me, I had to chuckle my agreement. I especially loved the phrase "an open field full of landscaping, God-style."

Weeds (25374 bytes)

10:03 AM A fellow classroom teacher sends these thoughts:

Dr. Black,

I just had to tell you how much I enjoyed your article "Graders Who Don't Grade".  As a teacher myself, I often wonder how a teacher or professor can fully gauge their student's understanding when grading by proxy, even if using a rubric of some sort.  Thank you for being so dedicated to serving the Lord and your students in this way.    

Thursday, April 21

12:21 PM The latest entry on our home page is called Graders Who Don't Grade.

10:16 AM This 15-year old writes:

The United States of America is ruled by a tyrannical force, and I do not mean the Republican Congress, the conservative Supreme Court, or even George W. Bush. At the end of the day, the men currently in power will eventually be booted out of office at the voting booth, be term limited, step down and retire, or they will die, as we all must. They do not hold true power in this country. There is a stronger force behind them - behind all of America - and it is the tyranny of misperceptions.

Read A Tyranny of Misperceptions

10:12 AM In his "Dominus Iesus" published in 2000, the new pope said that Protestant and evangelical churches "are not Churches in the proper sense." He may be on to something here. For more on the pope, see Who Is Benedict XVI?

10:08 AM Don't ever say this can't happen in America:

Eritreans resent the strong-arm tactics of President Isaias Afewerki and his administration. His government refuses to implement a 1997 constitution that guarantees freedom of religion and other democratic rights. Prominent politicians who challenge the party line are jailed. Privately owned newspapers are forced to close. For many now, the sacrifice for independence has yielded only more authoritarianism.

9:54 AM Yesterday I received via snail mail my copies of the Portuguese edition of Why Four Gospels? From what I can see, parece ser uma edição boa (my college roommate was from Brazil and taught me just enough Portuguese to be dangerous).

9:45 AM Today we also say goodbye to the Hamm family, who spent several days with us at Bradford Hall. Casey is a student at Southeastern College of Wake Forest and audited my Greek class at the seminary.

The children enjoyed feeding our 10-day old calf named Charlie.  

Casey, his wife Tina, and their children Taylor, Logan, and Kylie will be relocating to Texas, where Casey will begin his M.Div. studies at Southwestern Seminary this fall. We wish this precious family God's richest blessings.

9:33 AM Today my wife and I are going to Danville to get our second Hepatitis A shot for Ethiopia.

Wednesday, April 20

7:54 AM Here's an email from a kindred spirit:

Dave, I just read your article about writing a book and I want you to know that I will be praying for you. I am an avid reader of your articles and find them very enlightening. I am deeply concerned about the state of Christianity in America today and seem to find myself at odds with much of "organized religion." Churches have made far too many compromises with both the state and the culture. That's why it's good to find like-minded individuals, even if it's only in cyberspace. God bless you, C.

7:44 AM PRAYER REQUEST: Today Bereket has his final follow-up visit to the doctor subsequent to his eyelid surgery. He will now return to his village in northern Ethiopia to await his cornea transplant. We are asking the Lord to make that possible while we are there so that Becky can wait upon him post-surgery. But the Lord Jesus will work out the details perfectly, as He always does. One thing is certain: This is the Lord's doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes.

7:40 AM The Association of Reformed Baptist Churches in America annual meeting is now taking place. Tom Ascol is the featured speaker. I find it interesting that the program header is written in Modern (and not Hellenistic) Greek:

7:35 AM Ho Hum (Jim Elliott):

"The acquisition of academic knowledge (the 'pride of life') is a wearing process and I wonder now if it is all worthwhile. The shiny paint laid on by curiosity's hand has worn off. What thing better can a man know than the love of Christ, which passes knowledge? Oh to be reveling in the knowledge of Him, rather than wallowing in the quagmire of inscrutable philosophy! My philosophy prof says I can't expect to learn much in his class---all he wants to do is to develop an inquiring mind in order to 'make explicit and critically examine philosophical problems of the widest generality'. Ho hum."

7:30 AM Here's some good news if you live on the left coast. Golden Gate Seminary will be reinstating its Ph.D. program

7:26 AM I just stumbled on this surf map of Oahu in Hawaii. I surfed most of these spots while growing up there. My home turf was Kailua on the windward side (numbers 53-56). 

7:18 AM At last weekend's Uniting Church and Family Conference in Raleigh I met several dads who were teaching their sons New Testament Greek. Many of them asked me if I had any teaching helps available for beginning students. Other than my grammars, I might mention that my beginning Greek course will be available on DVD this fall. Meanwhile, my beginning grammar is suitable for self-study, and includes a key to all the exercises in the back along with a handy fold-out chart of the entire Greek verb system. It is thrilling to see more and more homeschoolers studying the language of the New Testament, using the many helps available in print or on the Internet. May God richly bless your studies.

7:12 AM My wife and I are spending a couple of days in Zurich on our way to Ethiopia. I love that city on the Limmat and can't wait to visit Zwingli's church again. One of the main reasons I chose the University of Basel for my doctoral studies was the chance to live in a leading city of the Reformation and to study for a degree in a school that offered degrees before Columbus stumbled upon America. I strongly urge those considering a university doctorate to study abroad. Not only do you get a challenging and rewarding course of study but you are also exposed to living in a foreign culture and (in my case, at least) the opportunity to speak a foreign language. I well remember meeting my professor for the first time upon my arrival in Basel as a student in 1980. I found him in the library. Here I am -- a guy from Hawaii speaking to a renowned Swedish New Testament scholar -- and the language we used to converse with each other was German. He immediately became my "Doctor Father" and I his "Doctor Son" until I graduated in 1983, when suddenly I became his peer. I am sorry, but I cannot commiserate with students who are constantly complaining about their doctoral studies. My academic experience was pure joy, and Becky and I will never forget the wonderful days we spent along the Rhine in Switzerland.

(Below: The house where Erasmus lived in Basel. Erasmus edited the first published Greek New Testament in Basel in 1516.)


Tuesday, April 19

3:50 PM Are you a homesteader? Find out here. (Hint: You might be a homesteader if you feel you were born a century too late.)

Below: A beautiful old house on a neighboring farm. Nathan and I recently repaired and repainted the roof for the owner. There are dozens of these wonderful homes just waiting to be restored.

3:33 PM The new German pope's harshest critics are likely to be the Germans themselves. Here's why:

Nirgendwo ist die Kritik an ihm so harsch, so unerbittlich wie in Deutschland, für viele ist der Mann mit den eisgrauen Haaren schlichtweg das Symbol für Dogmatismus und Konservatismus. In vielen Ländern wird er, trotz mancher Kritik, dagegen einfach als »Bewahrer« angesehen - was in Zeiten dramatischen gesellschaftlichen Wandels durchaus anerkennend gemeint ist.

How interesting, I thought, that the new pope should have taken the same name we gave our Ethiopian "son" Bereket. Both Bereket and Benedict mean "blessed" or "blessing."

3:19 PM It was exactly four weeks ago today that I said goodbye to my first horse. Time does not heal, though healing does take time. There is hardly a day when I do not think about Cody. I still miss him, but gradually the sorrow is being replaced by the happiest of memories. (Below: Cody doing what he did best -- about to give a child a ride. He did this literally hundreds of times.)

3:05 PM Glenn Ansley has some food for thought:

We must daily “continue in His word.” It is only through the daily study of Scriptures and time in prayer that we will come to know the truth. If we will do this, Jesus promises that the “truth will make us free.”

3:00 PM Greek students: What's wrong with this title?


8:39 AM Guess what I'm doing today? I am working through my checklist for Ethiopia. We leave in just a few short weeks. For samplers, I need to order some of my Greek textbooks for the Evangelical Theological College, purchase an English-Amharic Dictionary, get copies of my book on Textual Criticism for use when I lecture at Addis Ababa University, and get a Thompson's Chain Reference Bible for an Ethiopian student. Our CD project is almost complete. Each CD will include several dozen Bible study books. Each graduate of ETC will receive a gratis copy from the Lapsley-Brooks Foundation (my father-in-law's foundation). Perhaps most exciting of all, I just received an invitation to teach and preach for a weekend down in Alaba, a stronghold of Islam. If you recall, this is where a young Christian was killed for his faith recently. I have been invited to meet his family and then minister to the fledging Christian community there. I am more convinced than ever that the church in America faces similar anti-christs. The truth takes root in resistant soil, and persecution can be demoralizing, but it can also be a cause for taking heart since it tests character (James 1:2-4).

8:35 AM Here's an encouraging email from someone who attended last weekend's conference:

Wanted to say a BIG thank you for your message at the conference in Raleigh! What a challenge. What a continued challenge to me to spend the majority of my time in Scripture! Thank you so much! We listened to the CDs again on the way home of your message.

It is vital that we continue to pour the new wine into new wineskins.

8:32 AM The new president of Moody Bible Institute has some wise words about traditionism (as opposed to traditions), the priority of teaching and studying the Bible, and what church ought to be.

8:25 AM The latest addition to our home page is called My Big Fat Greek New Testament.

8:22 AM Greek students will want to check this out.

Monday, April 18

8:22 AM To all my fellow wave riders, including Scott and Doug: There is hope for us.

8:14 AM I had the privilege of meeting several wonderful pastors at the Uniting Church and Family Conference last weekend, including this one from High Point, NC, who believes in family integration. Yes, it can be done, and it is being done. God bless you, Sir, as you seek to follow the Lord Jesus in love and obedience.

8:05 AM If you live near Greer, SC, you won't want to miss this great opportunity:

Family Together Ministries presents

From Generation to Generation

Hear “Little Bear” Wheeler
Historian, Father and Pastor

May 13
7:00pm - 9:00pm
May 14
9:00am - 3:00pm

8:01 AM A good friend of DBO sends along these thoughts:

As you know, I am not opposed to the church being active in civic life.  Indeed, I think the church must be the conscience of the culture.  After all, we are to be salt and light to a dying world.  But aren’t our well-meaning brothers turning the bride of Christ into little more than an interest group, looking for scraps from the emperor’s table rather than an abundant life in Christ, filled with the Spirit of God?


I guess there is little we can do about this other than act locally, right? On that note, I’ll finish this up by telling you that as I have been searching for a church home, I’ve come across some WONDERFUL Baptist churches....


Dave, it really is heartening to see the Word preached and taught well, to see children worshipping with parents and being rigorously instructed, to see true fellowship and love among the brethren. 


It is in these things, despite all of the other wickedness and foolishness around us, that I am continually reminded that God IS at work, and there is a wind blowing.


May we redeem the time, and may God continue to bless your efforts.

Yes, it is heartening to see this, as believers become more and more aware of their family responsibilities and of the truth that each and every member member of the Body of Christ has been gifted with at least one kind of charisma. This truth often runs in complete contrast with so many of our churches, which have become spectator-oriented. Fundamentally, we need to give ourselves to others in ministry and do our part in the church. I am so glad you are finding this to be true in the churches where you live. May their tribe increase, my friend!  

Saturday, April 16

9:35 PM For your weekend reading:

The Ascent of Lost Man
in Southern Baptist Preaching

9:19 PM Civil War Dads has a great post titled When Ladies Were Ladies.

9:12 PM Prepping the soil for the raised beds. The dirt came from a spot on our farm. The garden should be good to go Monday evening.

9:08 PM The worst kind of outsourcing.

3:37 PM What kind of "American" do you speak?

3:21 PM It's that time of the year again. Nathan has already planted potatoes, carrots, and onions at his farm.

Here he is preparing our fields for orchard grass and clover on this gorgeous Saturday morning. All of this was scrubby cutover when we bought the place. We cleared the land and erected pasture fencing around our new acre-and-a-half pond. This afternoon a landscaper friend is helping us put in my wife's raised garden beds behind Bradford Hall.

3:12 PM Martin Luther (Tabletalk):

God alone, through his Word, instructs the heart, so that it may come to the serious knowledge how wicked it is, and corrupt and hostile to god. Afterwards God brings man to the knowledge of God, and how he may be freed from sin, and how, after this miserable, evanescent world, he may obtain life everlasting. Human reason, with all its wisdom, can bring it no further than to instruct people how to live honestly and decently in the world, how to keep house, build, etc., things learned from philosophy and heathenish books. But how they should learn to know God and his dear Son, Christ Jesus, and to be saved, this the Holy Ghost alone teaches through God’s Word....

2:59 PM Last night I fielded a couple of questions about Bible translations, including a question about the difference between dynamic equivalence and literalness. Wayne Leman has a helpful glossary of technical terms related to Bible translation at his website Better Bibles Blog:

Technical terms

Speaking of translations, an ESV Kids Bible is on its way. 

2:53 PM If you are at all interested in learning more about the so-called emerging church, a post by Andrew Jones is a good introduction.

1:24 PM The latest addition to our home page is called The Bible Plus Nothing.

10:47 AM Tomorrow I am continuing my series on the Scripture-Driven Church at the Raleigh Chinese Christian Church.

10:37 AM At the Uniting Church and Family Conference last night, Voddie Baucham did a superb job explaining from the Scriptures why a biblical philosophy of age-integration should be adopted by every local church.

Over 400 attendees heard Scott Brown lay out the qualifications of an elder based on the detailed requirements of 1 Timothy 3. 

Scott and I go way back together. We were in classes together at Talbot Seminary back in the late 70s, and both of us were part of the Jesus Movement craze of the 60s and 70s -- he in Southern California, I in Hawaii. In case you didn't know it, Scott has a great website.

Friday, April 15

8:29 AM Greek students take note. A colleague of mine at Golden Gate Seminary has written Interpretive Implications of Using Bible-Search Software for New Testament Grammatical Analysis. Definitely worth a read.

8:20 AM A New Jersey cop is challenging the Establishment. You can check out his blog here.

8:13 AM Feeling a draft?

8:10 AM Today's conference schedule. I hope to see many DBO readers there!

12:00 p.m.      Getting our Houses in Order (Lunch provided) Voddie Baucham
2:30 p.m.      The Home is the Factory for Church Leaders Scott Brown
3:45 p.m.      Why Family Integration? (Panel Discussion)  
5:00 p.m.      Break  
7:00 p.m.      Revival: Lessons from the Life of Josiah Voddie Baucham
8:15 p.m.      The Doctrine of the Sufficiency of Scripture - Scott Brown interviews Dr. David Black on the implications of the Bible for modern church life Scott Brown

8:07 AM Look what they're cloning now.

Pieraz-Cryozootech-Stallion (EBU)

8:04 AM Yesterday in chapel Voddie Baucham spoke on the many false gospels being "preached" in our churches these days. Likewise, Wes Barnett has some excellence thoughts on The Man-Centered Gospel.

8:00 AM I enjoy going into schools and speaking on "The Christian Character of Robert E. Lee." In that vein, Richard Williams has edited a book that should be required reading for every young man south and north of the Mason-Dixon line:

the maxims of robert e. lee for young gentlemen

Edited by Richard G. Williams, Jr.

Foreword by John J. Dwyer

128 pp.  5½ x 8½ 

7 b/w photos  Notes  Biblio. 

ISBN: 1-58980-310-8  $12.95 pb

13-Digit ISBN: 9781589803107

Readers may order the book toll free from Pelican at 1-800-843-1724.

Thursday, April 14

6:53 AM Here's a trombonist with a website that "points the way to Jesus Christ." I like what I see!

6:50 AM Check out these acronyms.

6:45 AM I met William Einwechter at the Saint Louis Uniting Church and Family Conference last year. His work focuses on church and state issues from a uniquely biblical perspective. Here he offers a thoughtful analysis of Election 2004. An excerpt:

The Bible reveals that Jesus Christ is the center of all things and not the state. Whenever Christ's lordship over all things is not recognized in a society, as we see in America today, the state inevitably rises to supreme prominence as the expression of law and order on earth. Christians must reject messianic politics, and emphasize the lordship of Christ and the institutions of the family and the church. Cultural factors drive politics, but, ultimately, culture itself is determined by the condition of the family and the church. Furthermore, the condition of the family and the church is decided by submission to Christ and faithfulness to His Word. Cultural reform, and, thus, political reform, usually comes from the bottom up.

6:43 AM Ethiopia is on the verge of a cyberspace explosion. Gospel opportunities will abound. Does anyone have a desire to get in on the ground floor with Christian e-education or cyber-cafes? The possibilities are endless.

6:37 AM The religion of "Generation Y."

6:35 AM Will the "Panzer Cardinal" become the next pope? In this interview, Cardinal Ratzinger answers questions that vary from ecumenism to liberation theology to the ordination of women. He also relates his experiences in WW II Germany.

6:23 AM The world's first global map to bring $1.5 million.

6:19 AM Thursday morning shout out to my friend Voddie Baucham, who speaks in chapel today and then at the Uniting Church and Family Conference on Friday and Saturday. Voddie has authored this book about our post-Christian culture.

6:15 AM The word "church" in English is ambiguous. It can refer to a building or to a group of people. Only the latter meaning is reflected in the Greek word ekklesia. That's why I prefer not to use the word " church" to describe a group of believers that come together regularly for Bible study, fellowship, the breaking of bread, and prayer (this is the basic definition of a "church" according to Acts 2:42). If I ever need a name for a new Christian fellowship, here's one I would seriously consider.

6:12 AM Can you name these famous Baptists? (Hint: They were all very Reformed-minded.)

(The faces, beginning at noon and moving clockwise, are J. P. Boyce, John Bunyan, John A. Broadus, William Carey, B. H. Carroll, and Charles Spurgeon.)

Wednesday, April 13

7:43 AM One of my dear colleagues will be a featured speaker at a Canadian conference on translating the New Testament (thanks to Lee Justice for the link):

7:31 AM When he was a student at Wheaton, Jim Elliott had his priorities right:

My grades came through this week, and were, as expected, lower than last semester. However, I make no apologies, and admit I've let them drag a bit for study of the Bible, in which I seek the degree A.U.G., "approved unto God."

7:26 AM How livable is your state? I was born and raised in Hawaii (#26) and lived for 27 years in Southern California (#35). Today I reside in the great state of Virginia (#5)!

7:20 AM The latest essay on our home page is called Men Who Risk It All.

7:18 AM So Putin is the apostle Paul?

7:15 AM Two seminary professors join the blogosphere.

7:12 AM Wayne Lehman sent me an email with a link to his new blog on English Bible translations. He welcomes your comments.

7:08 AM Our puppy seems to run on two speeds -- all out, and totally exhausted. Here she is dead asleep in our breakfast room, arm perched on wall.

Tuesday, April 12

6:51 AM The importance of mentoring.

I've been mentored and have mentored many people in my career. These are, by far, the fondest memories of my career. Due to my views on training, views on life, personal convictions, and attraction to high-risk/high-reward activities, we've started down this path.

6:48 AM It happened 44 years ago today. I remember it well.

Yuri Gagarin on his way to the launch pad

6:45 AM I'll admit it: I love Shelties. They make an exceptional pet. They can be  reserved with strangers (that's good), but they possess an insatiable longing to please their owners. They are very responsive and develop a lasting loyalty to their families. Their natural affinity for children make them gentle companions, and their propensity to guard their home make them highly protective.

Shiloh (below) is having quite a time trying to keep up with our new puppy, Sheba, but I'm sure he'll figure her out one of these years!

6:40 AM Will you start vlogging?

6:37 AM Fifteen Evil Consequences of Plexiglas Preaching by John MacArthur is full of rich insights.

6:35 AM Mrs. Julie Austin offers some excellent advice for homeschooling parents.

6:30 AM Long-time DBO reader Matthew chimes in on the Charlotte Mason discussion:

Dear Professor Black (even though I'm not in your classes, you've been
a great teacher for me )

I read your question about Charlotte Mason and the response from Izzy.
As a home school dad, who strongly believes that God has given us the
position of choosing, reviewing and being involved with the daily
lessons of our children, I have only briefly read some of the
Charlotte Mason materials. The problem with Charlotte Mason, in my
opinion, is she is not completely Christian or Biblical in her

We have chosen to bring our children in direct contact with art,
however, from a Christian worldview. The Lord graciously led us to
David Quine's material at David
and his family have been a blessing to us in the areas of music and
art. They take the principles of Francis Schaeffer (sp?) and apply
them to how we take dominion over these important areas of our lives.

I would agree with Izzy, that we just don't expose our children to
art, just for arts sake. Our weekly art consists of the following. We
use the paintings that we get from the Quine's material and go over
questions like, was the person painting this picture using the Bible
in what he was trying to say. What was the artist saying about God,
what was he saying about man, etc. We then have a short background on the painting and then we have it displayed in one of our rooms during
the week. We come back at the next sitting and talk about it some

We have been doing this for about a year. I can say, I have about -10%
art appreciation in me. I never saw the purpose in it. During this
year, I still can't say I like it at the 100% level, but I have
learned to understand how the expression of your belief about God is
expressed clearly in the art you do. How, for example, art has slowly
digressed from a Biblical worldview. From early 9th century art then
up through DaVinci, Rembrandt and then into Monet shows a clear
digression of a Biblical worldview. My children have been able to see
this too.

My favorite stories are of my three year old. She'll sit and look at a
picture and try and find objects in it. We also make our own version
of the picture as well with good old crayons. We were in a Confederate
museum once, about 8 months ago. Our three year old was looking around and the next thing I know, she's down on the floor looking at a
painting of a battle. The museum hadn't hung the picture yet, but she
found it and was just studying it, intently. I went over and asked her
what she saw. She said fire, guns, cannons, etc.

Long email, but bottom line, as in anything we do, it must bring us to
God and dominion over what God has given us and what God has given
others, both past and present.


P.S.: Lord willing, looking forward to meeting you this weekend in Raleigh!

6:20 AM Fellow Virginian George Lansing sent me this wonderful news. His wife began the first Beta Club chapter of homeschoolers under the name "Grace Academy" in 1999. Every year this small group of central Virginia homeschoolers has done extremely well at the state convention. Last weekend it placed third in "Scholastic Sweepstakes," which was their accumulated point totals in all categories. Keep in mind that this group of some dozen or so students was competing against the best of the public schools throughout the state. Of greater importance was the beautiful testimony of their love for Christ and their desire to see Him redeem all of education. Their son Eric placed first in Oratory again this year and will be delivering his winning speech at the national convention in New Orleans in June.  Please take a moment and read this wonderful essay by a young man we can all be proud of:

Truth in the Streets

If you would take a moment with me to travel back in time a couple of centuries, and over the ocean several thousand miles, we will find ourselves in a street in Paris.  And as you look across the street, a man steps out of the door with his mistress, a woman whom he has described as the “ugliest woman I have ever laid eyes upon.”  The man steps to the edge of the street, and you see that he is holding a newborn baby girl—his own baby girl.  Seeking to draw attention to himself, he casts the baby into the street, and walks back inside.  Amazingly, this baby girl has four siblings who have all been left on this very street, the same way someone today would throw a trash bag into the street, to be picked up by the garbage truck.  If this newborn baby is fortunate, she’ll be found by some caring soul, and taken to an orphanage.  But if she’s not fortunate, she may be trampled upon, hit by an oncoming carriage; or she may die out in the cold.

If you had the privilege of following this man into his home, you would have seen a paper lying on his desk, bearing a phrase that this very man has coined.  The paper says, “The only absolute is that there are no absolutes.”

Ladies and gentlemen, you have just arrived at the house of one of the most powerful philosophers of modern history—a man whose writings would bring about the mass executions of the French Revolution, a holocaust of one third of Paris’s population.  This man’s name is Jean Jacques Rousseau.

Whether we realize it or not, the man who has just left his child to die in the streets is a man whose philosophy has permeated our own society beyond measure.

In response to this, I bring before you an unusual assertion: there are absolutes.  I, for example, believe in a true meaning of life—an absolute truth expressed by King Solomon nearly 3,000 years ago: “Fear God,” he said, “and keep His commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.”

Our culture has often tried to refute absolute truth by telling us to always have an open mind.  Think about it—this is an absolute statement in itself.  I believe that a better alternative is to have an active mind.  The active mind understands freedom of thought, and it is willing to change when necessary; but when it is anchored by the foundation of absolute truth, it is not blown about like an unsecured sail in the wind.  My encouragement to you is to seek out truth, and rise above the whims of popular culture.

When a college professor once told his class that there are no absolutes, one of the students raised her hand.  When she was called on, she asked the professor, “Are you absolutely sure?”  Another teacher once asserted that there is no truth, and was asked, “Is that a true statement?”  Whether we realize it or not, all of us believe in some form of absolute truth.

So journey forward with me through time and expanse—the place is the Beta Club state convention in Richmond, Virginia; the time, 21st century.  We are no longer standing in a street where a baby girl is crying out in fear.  We’re in a modern world full of people crying out for truth.  So let us not seek to change the world simply for the sake of changing it.  Instead, let future generations in America know that we took a stand for the truth and did not let it die in our streets.


  • The Bible (Ecclesiastes 12:13), King James Version (KJV)

  • “The French Revolution” (recorded lecture), by Dr. George Grant, Ph. D., D. Litt., Gileskirk Curriculum (“Modernity”), © 2001.

  • “Arguments that Commit Suicide,” July/August 2001, by Gregory Koukl (President of Stand to Reason),

(Below: Eric Lansing.)

Monday, April 11

7:59 AM It's official: We purchased our airline tickets for Ethiopia. We depart RDU on Monday, May 30, and arrive in Addis Ababa on Wednesday, after a brief stopover in Zurich. We will have the privilege of participating in the graduation banquet for the Evangelical Theological College (ETC) in Addis that Friday evening and then in the commencement service that Saturday. I'll be gone a total of eight and a half weeks. I will be lecturing at the University of Addis Ababa and teaching Intermediate Greek at the Mennonite College and Beginning Greek at ETC, plus preaching/teaching every weekend. At the commencement ceremony, Becky Lynn will be presenting each of the 90 graduates a gift CD we have prepared that will have some 50 Bible study helps on it, including basic theology texts, Bible dictionaries, and commentaries. We are also taking copies of the Jesus Film to pass out to bush evangelists. It's mind-boggling to think of all the doors the Lord Jesus has opened to us! Needless to say, your prayers for wisdom and strength would be greatly appreciated.

Here is a photo of the beautiful campus of the Evangelical Theological College in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia:

7:43 AM Yesterday our little congregation in Southside Virginia held our second communion service at the local nursing home. My wife and I took several pictures then discovered we had forgotten to load the memory strip. These sure are some precious people.

7:19 AM The latest addition to our home page is called What If There Is a God?

7:16 AM "Press on to maturity" or "Carried along to maturity"? You decide

7:14 AM Slowly but surely, our horse stable is being constructed. Below is a photo of our neighbor's tobacco barn, whose siding they permitted us to tear down and use for our barn. Unfortunately, the logs were too rotten for us to scavenge.

Et voila! Here is our horse barn (seen through the eyes of faith, that is). Rafter poles, siding, tin roofing. Can't ask for anything more: Free materials, and free labor!


7:10 AM Dr. Izzy Lyman of the Homeschooling Revolution had this response to our query about Charlotte Mason:

Hey Doc!
I think Mason's exercise is silly and pretentious.
I say, what's the hurry and what's the point? It's like overexposing kids to high fashion or haute cuisine because it seems cultured.
Simply pointing out that bridges, plowed fields, or loud trains are useful "works of art" strikes me as the better exercise for younguns.
Don't get me wrong. A trip to certain museums, now and then, is fine. And if
a child does seem to have an artistic bent, that's another matter. But I never
get why some middle American homeschoolers want to try to appear to be like snobby, passive Europeans constantly talking about the Iliad and the masters of art.

7:05 AM The reenactment of the Battle of Saylor's Creek on Saturday was a huge success. For a change of pace, my wife and I dressed in our period civilian clothes, while Nate fell in with the troops and valiantly did battle. He functioned as one of the brigade buglers, and we could hear his crisp battle calls throughout the fateful struggle. He fell in with the 59th Virginia Regiment, whom we had the good pleasure of meeting for the first time. It was a special honor for our family: buried in our farm cemetery is the former owner of Rosewood Farm, Corporal Anderson Boyd of the 59th Virginia Regiment.

Below: A shot of Stonewall (er, Nathan) just before Saturday's battle reenactment.

7:00 AM As I sit here this morning watching the sun rise over the pines, the words of my morning devotional speak volumes: "Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and Keep His commandments/For this is man's all" (Eccl. 12:13). I am also reminded that the author of these words, Solomon, despite all his wisdom and advantages, made some very foolish choices in life. He could not hide his regrets in his later years, and I certainly share some very similar feelings. Life without God is not only meaningless; it is the height of folly. Amazing -- to be 52 years old and yet to feel like you are just beginning to know true wisdom. How thankful I am that I, like Solomon, can find my joy this very day in the secure trust in our Father.

Saturday, April 9

7:26 AM On this historic date in American history, we are spending the day in Appomattox, Virginia. I fondly recall an event that took place eight years ago when my wife and I were living in California. We decided to celebrate our anniversary by flying to the east coast and visiting Civil War sites (Gettysburg, Sharpsburg, Manassas, etc.). As it turned out, we just "happened" to arrive in Appomattox on April 9, which that year just "happened" to be Palm Sunday (the actual day of the surrender). If that wasn't interesting enough, we looked for a church to attend (as is our custom whenever traveling), and the church we just "happened" upon was a Bible Baptist Church in Appomattox. When we looked at the bulletin and saw the pastor's name, we just about fainted. The pastor was named Robert E. Lee. Now that was eerie.

One word of warning: Civil War history is both fascinating and addicting. It's like a big deep hole -- once you fall into it you'll never get out again.

The surrender

7:18 AM I love art, as you can probably tell. Does anyone have any thoughts on the Charlotte Mason way of teaching art appreciation? Does it work?

Bring the child into direct contact with the best art. Choose one artist at a time; six paintings per artist; study one painting per week (maybe 15 minutes per week). Allow the child to look at the work of art intently for a period of time (maybe five minutes). Have him take in every detail. Then take the picture away and have him narrate (tell back) what he's seen in the picture. Excellent prints can be viewed and purchased from the National Gallery of Art.

7:13 AM The noose of government regulations on small farmers is downright intol'able, says Joel Salatin. Read why.

Friday, April 8

5:05 PM Kristen has some excellent thoughts about being forgiving and tenderhearted toward others. Made me think of a wonderful Greek word found in Philippians 4:5, which is usually translated "gentleness" or "forbearing spirit." These are great renderings, but the one I like the most (and the one that I find most convicting!) is William Hendrickson's "big-heartedness." "Let your big-heartedness be known to all men." A big-hearted person doesn't sweat the small stuff, isn't picayunish, but has a forbearing attitude toward all people. Ron Ritchie paraphrases the verse this way:

You people who live in Philippi, let your sweet reasonableness, which comes from the very character of God, permeate like perfume through your community. Let men and women see you as God wants them to see you. I want you to let it be known to all men.

Above all, the word is directed toward those who might be suffering at the hands of others (indeed, it seems likely that the Philippians were being persecuted for their faith). These believers had a choice to make: they could either become angry and vengeful, or they could choose to bear patiently with those who were persecuting them and determine to treat them kindly.

One thing is sure: Paul didn't mean what is reflected in the Bible translation called God's Word:

Let everyone know how considerate you are.

I really doubt that Paul would have us boast about how kind we are!

2:17 PM Reaching the "unchurched":

So how do you engage the unchurched? Just like you would anyone else! Open your heart, open your life, open your world to them and they will open their world to you. The unchurched must know you care about and accept them where they are. Then they will enter your world with you. It’s not easy and it’s not quick, but it’s eternally important and rewarding!

12:19 PM I have just been invited to lecture on Greek linguistics in the Linguistics Department at Addis Ababa University during the week of June 6-10. Concurrently I will be teaching Intermediate Greek at the Meserete Kristos (Mennonite) College in the same city. Needless to say, I feel very blessed. I am also reminded of Ephesians 5:16:

Because we all have a limited amount of time on this earth, Paul urges us to use as much of that time for advancing Christ's purposes as possible.

12:11 PM Will having a family-integrated church hurt evangelism? Matthew McDill thinks not:

Relationship evangelism in the context of genuine friendships is much more effective than programs, events, and door-to-door strategies. We can focus on the home and family while we reach others for Christ by revitalizing the ministry of hospitality. A powerful strategy for evangelism is for families to have those who need Christ in their homes and to work together as families to meet the practical needs of others.

11:22 AM Our puppy Sheba has become quite a hunter. She has already brought us a dead hawk and a dead rabbit -- both freshly killed. How she caught them I'll never know. My wife calls her a Proverbs 31 dog: "She brings her food from afar." It is fun having a female dog for the first time and watching her interact with our male. She is already 3 pounds heavier than he is, and she's still a pup. We can't wait for their first litter.

11:20 AM Here's a zany thought. I think I'll try to talk Scott Brown of Trinity Baptist Church in Wake Forest (who used to surf in California) into going on a surfing safari with me this fall in search of the perfect wave on the east coast. Maybe we can even get Doug Phillips to send a camera crew to record the exploits of two veteran (er, over the hill) surfers. What think ye, guys?

CLICK here to buy

11:15 AM From the Basic Blog:

Personally, I think that we need a more "wholistic" brand of Christianity that rejects the labels of "Right" and "Left". I think we need to stop looking less to politicians and Government for assistance and more to God and His agents, the Church, to address society's needs. Do you realize that there was a time when Welfare did not exist in this country? When Americans helped one another out, and if a problem was too severe, the Church picked up the slack? The reason we have welfare and other social programs are two-fold: the increasing immorality of this nation and the Church's unwillingness to address it directly.

The Amish do not accept any form of public assistance and get along just fine because they are a community. They have an organized mutual aid program. There is a lot of wisdom here (see Acts 2).

Large medical bills within an individual church are eventually paid by regular free will offerings within the congregation, and may extend to neighboring churches and adjacent districts.

11:12 AM A "model church."

11:10 AM How shepherds should deal with lambs.

11:03 AM My thoughts on the WORD:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word became flesh, not pixels. If the Internet is going to be used by believers, then it will have to be used for affirmation in the sense in which one of the church fathers described Christ's teaching: "Love me, and do what you will." Computers can never be a substitute for relationships.

10:58 AM The Austins are looking for tips on raising chickens. (By the way, don't you just love those chicken names?)

10:52 AM Angus Nicholson has started a website listing the homepages of evangelical scholars. Thank you for providing this service, Angus. To this might be added the New Testament Gateway's Directory of Scholars and Societies.

The New Testament Gateway

10:46 AM I just received this interesting email:

Hi Dave!

I've been reading your blog the last few weeks and have been really
enjoying it. I noticed your posts on the Trapp Family Singers and also
on another family who is "doing the same thing, only for the glory of

Now, I know you are not in the least Catholic, and I'm afraid I haven't
read enough of your blog to know quite your take on Catholics. However,
I hope that your remark was based on ignorance of the actual von Trapps.
The books The Story of the Trapp Family Singers, Maria My Own Story, or Around the World with the Trapp Family (the last available online at shows that the family were very strong and devout Catholics who did indeed sing for the glory of
God (as well as in order to eat when they came to the US as refugees!).
You might also find it interesting that they bought and worked a farm in
Vermont. They did a great deal for Catholicism and Catholic culture in
the US in the 1940s and 50s. After they stopped singing as a family,
Maria and three of the children went as missionaries to the south
Pacific - one of them for 30 years. It is a great pity that their true
work has been entirely overshadowed by the Sound of Music movie.

God bless
M. R.

10:35 AM Here's something I'm learning: "We get old too soon and smart too late." Life passes like a vapor. So let us be wise and enjoy what the Lord has given us while we can. Like sitting on the front porch this morning enjoying a cup of coffee with my wife. Delicious!

Thursday, April 7

6:46 AM This author says you don't have to live in the country to have a garden. She is right. My wife's first garden was in a community plot maintained by the City of La Mirada in California. We then began growing edibles in our small backyard (raised beds worked best), which also boasted 27 fruit trees. All this on one third of an acre, no less. We also had chickens, goats, and horses, and thus enjoyed a bit of the country in the middle of the city. And those farm fresh eggs -- who can eat store bought ones after you've had them!

Happy gardening, cyber-friends!

6:36 AM REFUSING THE GRAIL: When I first came to California in 1976 to study the Bible at Biola College (now University), the largest major there was Biblical Studies. It might seem a little thing, but for me it was a rather tremendous experience to study with so many Jesus Freaks (as we were called), culminating in many of us going into so-called "full time Christian ministry" (a misnomer, I realize, but you'll forgive me for the momentary lapse). From what I have said on this website for the past three years now, you know I am convinced that hard and testing days lie ahead for the church in America, the more so because the prophecy about the false shepherds in the sheepfold will be amply fulfilled, indeed is being fulfilled already. How beautiful, then, to see so many induced these days to live in the reality of Christ abstemiously -- rather than indulging in what Pascal called "licking the earth." They are reading the Bible with a voracious appetite (and related literature as well), and they know Jesus Christ and follow His way, even if that means inconvenience of a major sort. Like Bunyan's Pilgrim, they go withersoever the true path leads  -- sometimes through pleasant pastures, at other times over gigantic hills, at still other times into sloughs and valleys of the shadow of death. But in their eyes there is always the vision of the Celestial City, not just in prospect, but in glorious and daily reality.

You fellow citizens of a heavenly kingdom, I applaud you with joy and honor, for it is to you that these web musings are primarily directed. You are precious friends and fellow travelers.

May you continue to refuse the Unholy Grail.

6:23 AM MUSINGS ON THE INTERNET: There is a great deal of truth and wisdom in this excellent essay about the Internet. I agree wholeheartedly that the web isn't and can never be true community as God intended us to have.

I would add, however, that cyberspace can indeed involve more than "talk and listen," as witnessed recently by Carmon Friedrich's Blogathon for our Ethiopian "son" in the faith, or the many online friends the Black family has made through our blog, some of whom have already visited our farm in Virginia. Above all, perhaps, our blog is a place where we can share our prayer requests at a moment's notice and know that many dozens, perhaps even many hundreds, of like-minded saints will offer up a prayer on our behalf that very day. (Yesterday our site received over 12,000 hits, many of them to my blog.)

Future historians may see us as having created a Frankenstein monster that no one knows how to control or direct, and marvel that so many should have so meekly subjected themselves to its destructive and often malignant influence (a close parallel is the TV set). By the same token, I am more convinced than of anything else that I have ever believed that the only antidote to the world's flight of fantasy is the reality of Christ's kingdom proclaimed in the Gospel. The world may have erected the Internet as a temple of the arts and muses to the Almighty Dollar, but we Christians may claim it for other purposes, and pray that through it good seeds may be sown and bring forth a good harvest, and that the people, inclining their ears to what is honest and of good report, and shunning the all-too pervasive evils of cyberspace, may tread anew the paths of wisdom and righteousness.

At the very least, the Internet is a superb alternative to the great media harlequinade.

Wednesday, April 6

6:50 AM "Swarming," "the long tail," and other reasons why church leaders ought to blog.

6:45 AM David Black (1762-1806) was pastor of Lady Yester’s Church in Edinburgh, Scotland, from 1794 until his death. It was said that:

His manner [of preaching] was solemn and affectionate, earnest and persuasive. When expostulating with sinners, or unfolding to Christians the consolations of the gospel, there was often an animation in his address — a sacred fervour — a divine unction, which powerfully impressed the auditory. He evidently felt the truths he was delivering, and spake as one standing in the presence of God, animated with a pure zeal for the glory of the Redeemer, and the salvation of immortal souls.

Mr. Black's essay The Deceitfulness of the Heart is well worth reading.

6:38 AM Seven years ago this month we said goodbye to city life. Be it ever so humble, there's no place like (our country) home. It's nice to see we're not the only crazy people doing this.


Tuesday, April 5

5:19 PM The latest addition to our home page is called Of Sheepdogs and Christians. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.

5:12 PM Hmmm, I think I might try this with our new puppy.

8:44 AM Here's the latest link to Rosewood Farm, our country home. (Scroll down almost to the bottom of the page.) Should you visit, Alfie will greet you with a warm bovine smile:

8:34 AM The Austins offer some good advice about raising girls to become young ladies (something I have no experience doing but a great interest in watching others do!). Here's a pic of John and Julie during their recent visit to Bradford Hall:

8:12 AM An interesting follow-up to a recent blog posting:

Hello Dave:

I am a regular reader of your site and blog from Montana. (I met you at the CP convention) I noticed your post about the Von Trapps, and I thought I would tell you that the actual grandchildren of Captain Von Trapp live here in Montana, homeschool their children, and travel around the country as a singing group.

I appreciate your website.

Last year we saw a live performance of The Sound of Music in Raleigh featuring the actual descendants of the von Trapp family. The show inspired this essay.

8:05 AM Our "eyeglasses ministry" for Ethiopia continues. The church in Soyama requested 50 more pairs. We bought some, people from our church bought some, and then on Sunday a neighbor contributed 60 pairs to the kitty. You cannot believe how excited these aging evangelists and pastors are to receive their very own pair of eyeglasses. Large print Bibles in Amharic are simply not available! Becky and I will take the glasses with us when we return to Ethiopia this summer.

Monday, April 4

5:41 PM Kim's pen is alive and well. Welcome back.

5:39 PM Just finished getting more boards for our horse barn, and guess what? My son requests "Chinese" food for supper. Now just where did I put the soy sauce?

9:50 AM Saturday night we watched the video of The Sound of Music again, featuring, of course, the von Trapp family singers. Here's a family in Massachusetts that is doing the same thing, only for the glory of God. I wish they lived closer to Virginia!

9:44 AM The latest essay on our homepage is called Behold Lady Liberty!

9:34 AM Monday morning shout-out to Elder Don Hong of the Raleigh Chinese Christian Church for presenting me with a replica of a Civil War era officer's sword yesterday after I taught at their church. What a thoughtful surprise, Don!

Click to enlarge

9:13 AM Kudos to Mr. Robert Parkins, organist at Duke University's Chapel, for a fantastic recital yesterday featuring toccatas on the superb Flentrop Organ. My wife and I thought we were back at the Gross Munster in Basel, Switzerland. His interpretation of Bach's famous toccata in D Minor fascinated me, with its Italian style trills and frequent changes in tempo. What a wonderful way to begin the week.

I wish I could say the same thing for the "worship" that goes on at Duke's Chapel.

Chapel Photo

9:05 AM Quote of the day (J. Lawrence Burkholder):

"The problem of the traditional Protestant conception of the professional ministry is that it expects the minister to take on the world and the devil alone, while the congregation watches in the bleachers. Occasionally, one of the members would get out there and help him, but the professional is 'the ministry.' Not only does he play the game alone, but he is supposed to gather together within himself all of the graces and gifts of the church. He is, therefore, not only supposed to be the leader of the church, but also a religious man; indeed, he is prophet, priest, teacher, ruler, and ideal family man as well. The error of the Protestant concept lies not only in its exaggerated demands for technical and spiritual competence, but it is a basically wrong understanding of the ministry. The ministry, properly speaking, belongs to all the people, of whom certain especially gifted ones may be ordained, and to whom may be called a professional leader who will teach them what can be taught from books, and who will give them the kind of undivided service which full-time employment makes possible."

Saturday, April 2

3:26 PM The package for Bereket that we mailed today included a booklet written especially for him by the children of last week's guests to Bradford Hall, the John and Julie Austin family. You will never meet a more Christ-centered family or a more wonderful group of godly children. Their website is awesome. In the photo below the children are sitting around the breakfast table writing their notes for Bereket. From left to right: Jacob, Joshua, Julia, Joy, and Jessica. Thank you, dear children, for your labor of love on behalf of your brother in Christ on the other side of the world!

8:59 AM SEA HEAVEN: I see that the surf's up in Kailua on the East Shore of Oahu this weekend. On a day like this we would surf the magical Mokulua ("Twin") Islands, which are just a mile and half away from Kailua Beach Park. A long paddle out, but well worth it when the reef was breaking over 5 feet. Occasionally we would sail out with our boards in tow and then park the Hobie Cat on the islands while we surfed.

Windward Oahu - no ka oe!

Lanikai Beach information

8:58 AM Wapishana is spoken by only 10,500 people, but this couple risked their lives to bring the Word of God to these precious people. I thank God for missionaries like them.

8:52 AM Missionary Jim Elliott (January 15, 1950, age 22):

What good are Greek, commentaries, insight, gift, and all the rest, if there is no heart for Christ?

8:45 AM Yesterday Becky spoke with Bereket in Ethiopia. Today we are sending him tennis shoes, some thick socks, writing pens, notebooks for school, a cassette tape player with ear phones and batteries (for listening to the Scriptures on cassette), a calculator to help him in arithmetic, a long-sleeve warm shirt for the rainy season, a backpack bag, and a toothbrush in a holder. For the children in his village, we have gotten some coloring books and crayons. We’re also sending pens for the adult men in his village and some earrings for the women. Bereket will hand deliver these gifts in the name of the Black family (of which he is now a part) and especially in the name of the Lord Jesus. Below: Some of the many children in Gonder who will be seeing Bereket for the first time since he became a believer.

8:35 AM I am writing an essay on the tragic case of Terri Schiavo. I hope to publish it on Monday.

8:23 AM Springtime has arrived, and winter is but a memory. We had one of the mildest winters in a long time here in Southern Virginia. I love the seasons in the Piedmont.

8:12 AM Long-time DBO reader Buddy Walker (who doesn't watch TV either) sends these thoughts on the Third Commandment:

Hi Dave,

As I said before, I've been reading Thomas Watson's "Ten Commandments" and in the section on the Third Commandment, he list numerous ways in which we can transgress this law of God. The Westminster Confession as I'm sure you know, enumerates it more fully. But this book has made me realize how society today has totally lost respect for God. The phrases "Oh my G.d," "For G-d's sake," and of course the GD words are so common that no one even thinks of them as swear words anymore. When I was a child, no one would have considered using those phrases in public and now they're heard on TV, from what I hear. (I don't watch TV) I chastised my stepdaughter a few years ago for saying "OMG" and "For G-d's sake" and she said those phrases didn't mean anything. And I said "That's exactly the point! You're using God's name without meaning anything by it. You're taking his Name in vain." She disagreed and still does it. And so do so many others in today's society. How sad.

When Jesus said we would be held accountable for every idle word we speak, I think he had exactly this in mind. Even high-schoolers or younger in church use these words. And what's even more sad is that no one in authority in the churches corrects them. Probably because they do the same thing and don't consider it a violation of the Law of God. I lay most of the blame on today's preachers because they don't preach against TV and movies and modern music. I guess I'm just an old fogey, huh? But I'm glad if I am. I respect the name of our Lord and Saviour.

Friday, April 1


So what did the Baptists do? The situation was potentially explosive. They knew that it was essential to demonstrate that they were not radicals, subversively undermining the fabric of society. To the contrary, they were law-abiding citizens, who were being misrepresented and misunderstood by many around them. They wanted and needed to demonstrate that they were quite orthodox in their theological beliefs, and that they had no agenda beyond a faithful and conscientious commitment to God and His Word.

Read more. (Below: Benjamin Keach: Signer of the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith.)

1:47 PM Ain't she sweet?

1:23 PM Thanks to all who have inquired about my MRI. I saw the neurologist yesterday. He said, "Which do you want first - the good news, or the good news?" I said, "Let's try the good news first." He said," The good news is that you have a brain." (Relief.) "The other good news is that your brain is normal." (Misdiagnosis, no doubt.) The long and short of it is that my headaches are probably due to a bunch of cysts in my nasal cavities that tend to swell when the barometric pressure changes. The doc's got me on some medication that is supposed to prevent these headaches (though even he admitted there was nothing he could do about the barometric pressure). I don't get these headaches often, but when they hit, they HIT.

1:18 PM Another ministry start-up, inspired by this essay:

Dear Dave,

Thank you for supplying me with the final ingredients for my new (and
enormously lucrative) ministry,

"Instant Microwave Christianity". 

It is uniquely designed for the contemporary thin-spiritually & ethics!

Seriously, I have not found a church which is not afflicted by your Ten Easy Steps. I spend much study on the Book of James to guide my behavior as a consequence of the Lord's salvation;  and I point others to it as well.

It is no surprise that the hardest hitting book is also one of the shortest;  it allows no excuses.

D. S.

1:16 PM My surfing buddy Scott Brown of Trinity Baptist Church is back from his jaunt to the Pacific. He too is a "shark man" and offers some interesting statistics:

Hi Dave,
I too like sharks and I want you to be aware of important statistics to lessen fear and increase understanding. Did you know that more people worldwide die from drink machines falling on them than from shark attacks?  Did you further know that the overwhelming majority of shark attacks happen in waist deep water. Do you know why?  Think about it... that's where all the people are swimming!  No one swims in thousand foot water!   If you want shark attacks in deeper water, just go out there.

1:12 PM The Black Regiment is looking for a few good men.

1:10 PM A pastor in New Hampshire sent me this wonderful email:

Brother Dave, PRAISE THE LORD!  Along with very much appreciating your articles and websites such as "The Unleashing of The Church"... we have yet another thing in common... we both lived and were saved in Hawaii. I lived for many years in Hana, Maui and came to know CHRIST as my Savior there. My wife is a native Hawaiian from Maui. Although, I was never much of a surfer, I certainly had a ministry to many of them. I was a very avid diver and spear fisherman. Thanks for all you do to teach people about the true New Testament Church ... America is very much in need of these truths. We share this dedication.

Although the Jesus Movement was certainly eccentric, many of us came to know the Lord Jesus through it. And what can I say about Hana? It is one of the most beautiful spots on earth, though getting there takes you on one of the roughest roads in the Islands. The only town that can compete, in my estimation, is Lahaina, whence I used to sail to Oahu with some high school buddies. Maui - one gorgeous place.  (Below: One of the many waterfalls on the road to Hana.)


9:40 AM Just added to our homepage: A Fowl Lesson. (Thanks to Rachel Layne for the tip on the graphic.)

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