June 2006 Blog Archives
Friday, June 30
6:05 AM Becky's third Ethiopia report is now online.
5:58 AM I received a wonderful email yesterday from a man who has pastored for 55 years. For 8 years he's been one of my closest friends and prayer partners. He reminded me that the kind of unanimity I described in my essay Companionate Leadership is possible only with a regenerate church membership and when believers are filled with the Holy Spirit. I am constantly made aware of the small knot of people in our churches who seem to be walking in the Spirit and making things work for the large number of people who merely enjoy the fruits of the labor of others. I have spent half a lifetime trying to come to grips with what a truly New Testament church looks like. Today I am prepared to affirm as never before that something is different, that something new is going on in our churches, and that we are finally learning that we don’t go to church but that we are the church, as Alan Knox recently reminded us. I don’t mind admitting that I have grown tired of looking for one more gimmick or simple formula like the kind we have been sold by enthusiasts of this or that approach to church renewal. Innumerable volumes have been written about church reformation offering both simple and complex solutions, but my pastor friend gently reminded me that nothing can replace yielding ourselves daily to the leading and control of the Holy Spirit of God and allowing Him to love others through us. The great and good Dietrich Bonhoeffer once wrote, “A Christian fellowship lives and exists by the intercession of its members for one another or it collapses.” I would add that it also exists by the deeds of love we show to each other. The influential church family is the one that manifests in their individual lives and corporate capacity the strength, the beauty, the glory, the compassion of the risen Christ. Wherever you find such a church you will find a church that has favor with all the people (Acts 2:47).
5:45 AM Please join me in welcoming Thinking As A Woman to the blogosphere.
5:42 AM Special thanks to my outgoing dean and the new director of our Center for Faith and Culture, Russ Bush, for sending me copies of his books The Advancement and Baptists and the Bible. As I’ve often said, I’ve loved every minute of teaching here at Southeastern, but the best part is working alongside so many wonderful people – students, colleagues, and administrators alike. As I walk about on campus I pray by name for those with whom I work, and Russ has been at the top of my prayer list as he continues to undergo therapy for cancer. Thank you, friend, for your generous gifts, and may the Lord Jesus grant you healing and many more years of service to us here at SEBTS. You are greatly loved and appreciated.
5:37 AM Becky’s Ethiopian rose bushes are doing great. The healthiest one has grown about 2-3 inches in just a few days. Recently Becky wrote to her Dad:
God’s been good to us.
5:34 AM Becky Lynn and I looking forward to returning to Union Chapel Baptist Church (possibly this Sunday) to give a brief report on how their sister churches in Alaba are doing and to read a letter from the Alaba church elders. God has helped the wonderful congregation at Union Chapel to rally around the hurting and needy in this persecuted province. In times like these it’s deeds, not only words, that count.
5:30 AM On Wednesday night Becky made Ethiopian food for supper and the Rondeaus joined us for the feast. Caleb, who delights in taking care of others, fed his Mom some injera and wot, as is the custom in Ethiopia when you want to honor someone you love.
Over supper Matt Rondeau and I discussed body surfing. I didn’t know you could body surf in Rhode Island, but Matt assures me you can – he has. I mentioned that my favorite body surfing took place at Ashkelon in Israel and at Sandy Beach on Oahu. The waves suck out at Sandy Beach in such a way that you practically scrape your stomach on the sand while surfing. Sadly, the beach is also known for the high number of neck injuries that occur there. Here's a picture of the shore break at Sandy Beach. Anyone who's been to Oahu will also recognize the famous "Blow Hole" in the background. To this day, when I look at a picture like this I can literally feel the salt and the sand and the sun.
5:23 AM Quote of the day: “Brief pastorates only confuse issues.” – Phil Newton.
5:20 AM Did you know that you can register with Google a word you’ve created? I’m not too sure how well it works, though. When I tried to register “Christianality” it told me the word already existed and referenced this essay!
5:13 AM I see there’s now a lexicon of Greek personal names, with information about meanings, word formation, etc. Here’s a sampler of some fairly well-known New Testament names (some Greek, some Latin). Can you come up with their meanings (without looking them up in a dictionary if possible)? For obvious reasons, the last one's my personal favorite.
Thursday, June 29
6:37 AM Kudos to my Ph.D. student Mel Winstead for publishing a review of One Gospel from Two: Mark’s Use of Matthew and Luke, in the latest edition of Faith and Mission. He concludes:
Amen and amen. Well done, Mel.
6:33 AM Over at Quiddity, I found this interesting discussion of curriculum, and this quote:
This is one reason, I suppose, I teach Greek from a linguistic perspective. God Himself designed language to work with mathematical precision, so why shouldn’t we teach it that way? My poor students – having to learn such concepts as morphemes and internal stem changes – but in the end I believe they will be better off and will also remember what they have worked so hard to acquire. At least that’s my goal.
6:28 AM Yesterday in class we talked at length about the participles in the Great Commission of Matt. 28:18-20. By that great passage we might put Paul’s “I thank my God … for your participation in the Gospel from the first day until now” in Phil. 1:3-5. Oh, the glad and glorious surprise of being able to read all this in the Greek and to be reminded that the “Gospel business” is what life is all about. I struggle every day (repeat: every day) to put these principles in which I believe to work in my own experience. How I wish I could write about disciple-making from a richer, deeper, more experienced heart.
Wednesday, June 28
6:37 AM Our friend Ermias, General Secretary of the Addis Kidan Church in Ethiopia, just sent out an email that sounded like it was straight from the Book of Acts. Here’s a portion:
It's a delight to see a man who is a denominational executive taking the time to share the Good News with others while driving from place to place. What an example that is to me. Becky and I have had the privilege of working closely with Ermias and his denomination in leadership training and it has been nothing but a joy. Here's a photo of Becky with one of her classes consisting of pastors' wives and children's workers:
My heart is much attached to this denomination as it began under the auspices of Southern Baptist missionaries in the 1990s. I also love their denominational name: Addis Kidan, meaning "New Covenant."
6:22 AM Lately I’ve been thinking about the county in which I live. It’s rural Southside Virginia at its best – and its worst. It's becoming more and more pagan and atheistic. For me, monitoring a situation often means measuring and categorizing. Here is some information about the religious demographics of Mecklenburg County. (This site will also allow you to check the demographics of your own county.) I have come to see that there are at least 5 kinds of people in my neighborhood with whom I must constantly deal: the unreached, the agnostic, the religious, the inactive church member, and the committed Christian. The important thing about committed Christians is that they ignite our passion for faith and Christlike behavior. Their lives speak far more convincingly and plainly than any words. I know that this is only the natural expression of a heart given over to God. Together we stir one another up and goad each other to better and more faithful disciple-making. I am of the conviction that most of my neighbors here in the heart of the Bible Belt have no earthly idea just how real and satisfying committed Christianity can be. We need to brood over this picture with serious attention. I pray that God, in His mercy, would pour out His Spirit upon Mecklenburg County and that He might use Bradford Hall as a lighthouse of love and grace in the darkness of hurt and apathy.
6:16 AM We're in the final planning stages for our new barn design, so Nathan was surfing the web looking for old barn pictures. While I was reading in the library last night I suddenly heard howls of laughter coming from the office, and found Nate looking at this picture:
Here's the funny thing. If we could move this swayback and rebuild it, as is, on our farm, we would do it in a heartbeat. It's got just the kind of "class" we like.
Tuesday, June 27
5:59 AM The latest addition to our home page is called Companionate Leadership.
5:53 AM Is witnessing in France more difficult than in the U.S.? Paul Klawitter thinks so, and tells us why.
5:50 AM Guess whom I spoke with yesterday on the phone? Mr. Earl Roulette, whose great grandfather owned the Roulette farm, scene of the mid-day fighting during the Battle of Sharpsburg in 1862. The Roulette farm (pictured below just after the battle) was located just south of the Miller farms, one of which belonged to my great-great grandfather.
Earl is 86 years old and as sharp as a knife. He filled me in on the Roulette family history and also that of his other great grandfather, William Rohrbach, after whom the lower bridge over the Antietam was originally named (it’s now called Burnside Bridge). The fighting at this bridge was very intense, to put it mildly.
The Roulette farm is currently owned by the Park Service but is available for tours. Earl has invited me to meet him and he says he’ll give me a personal guided tour of historic sites in and around Sharpsburg. If you haven't been there yet, an excellent virtual tour of the Sharpsburg Battlefield, including photos of the Roulette farm, is available here.
5:43 AM We got about 3 inches of rain yesterday. It was much needed and greatly appreciated. Don Yeager mentions rain in his sermon called, “The Boat Wasn’t Sinking When I Got On Board.” He writes:
Yes, He knows what we need, and when we need it.
5:38 AM Greek students! As you begin translating the New Testament, you'll enjoy these thoughts from the late Francis Schaeffer:
5:35 AM I just received a review copy of House Church and Mission by Roger Gehring. I've already read half of it, it's that interesting. My review will appear in our seminary journal, Faith and Mission. By the way, here's a useful quote: "The man who doesn't read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them" (Mark Twain).
Monday, June 26
5:57 AM Today is the day we've all been waiting for in Greek One. Beginning this morning, all of our translation sentences will be taken verbatim from the Greek New Testament. No more made-up "See Jack run" style sentences. It's amazing when you think about it. Only four weeks ago we were introducing the Greek alphabet. Now we're translating the likes of Rom. 3:23, 1 Cor. 12:13, and other texts of Scripture. We'll be paying special attention to word order, the presence or absence of the definite article, and verbal aspect. A tip of the kepi to all of you who have made it this far. Later this week we'll begin translating the book of 1 John and discussing the tests of faith John gives us.
5:52 AM Becky was really in her element this weekend as she entertained our guests from Rocky Mount, VA. The Meggs have 8 beautiful children. For supper on Saturday we were joined by the Rondeau family from Oxford. (That's Liz Rondeau in the background. She's due in a week and a half.) The ladies prepared a sumptuous fare of roast beef, rice pilaf, mashed potatoes, farm-fresh vegetables, and fruit compote. Afterwards we sat on the front porch, enjoyed ice cream, and watched the goats romp. Before supper, Nathan gave each of the Meggs a hand-carved napkin holder he bought for them in Ethiopia.
The children spent their time taking long walks on the farm, visiting the pastures, drawing, and singing the great hymns of the faith.
Who needs TV when you've got pianos, organs, nature trails, colored pencils, and barnyard animals?
Thank you for visiting Bradford Hall, Rondeaus and Meggs. Come back soon!
Saturday, June 24
12:12 PM Someone requested a photo of B's garden vegetables. Here you go:
12:07 PM Just received some disturbing news from our son David in Alaba. Here's a portion of his email (I print it verbatim):
Needless to say, we are in fervent pray for both the persecutors and those being attacked in Zobechame and elsewhere. Here's something specific you can pray about. The congregation in Zobechame is trying to get their church property registered with the local government. Having a legal title deed will enable them to have government protection (such as it is) from their persecutors. Lord willing, Becky and I will be able to visit these precious believers when we return in December.
7:55 AM Miscellaneous news and notes (as I sip my coffee and watch the rabbits run around the front yard):
1) I just noticed that Becky harvested our first vegetables of the year. Beans and zucchini.
2) Our out-of-town guests arrive at noon today. Becky has the house looking terrific. We expect 17 around our dinner table this evening.
3) We got a wonderful email from our son Bereket this morning. His eye continues to heal well. More importantly, he is growing in the Lord. Please continue to pray for him.
4) Last night was the final day of VBS at our church. Over hot dogs I heard Becky tell a friend, "In Ethiopia your denomination doesn't matter that much." She's right. There is a tremendous sense of cooperation between the different evangelical churches. Our common goal is summed up in a great Ethiopia song whose title is: "Let the kingdom expand." The largest group we work with, the Evangelical Kale Heywot Church, is very much like any large evangelical denomination here in the states. But we have also taught at the Brethren college, lectured at the Lutheran seminary, and have spent many hours doing leadership training with the Addis Kidan Church, which was founded by Southern Baptists years ago. As you know, currently our focus is on supporting the most neglected and persecuted churches, especially in Alaba, which is 99 percent Muslim.
5) We had a few drops of rain last night but we need much more. A couple of weeks ago at prayer meeting a fellow farmer prayed, "Thank you, Lord, for the beautiful rainy day thou sent us today." You have to live in a farming community to understand how "beautiful" and "rainy" are not oxymoronic.
6) Speaking of the country, tomorrow I'll be at Hunting Creek Baptist Church in northern Halifax County, about an hour and a half drive from the farm. Their pastor is a former student of mine. He's away with a group from his church on a mission trip to South Carolina for the weekend.
7) And this was comical. Someone asked me the other day if I was a pacifist. I said, smiling, "Yes. Just a well-armed one."
Have a great weekend.
Friday, June 23
5:37 AM Greek students! You can take an online verb quiz here. Have fun.
5:34 AM Genealogy update: My grandmother’s maiden name was Haviland. Her mother, Sarah Haviland, was the daughter of Joseph Haviland. You may have heard of Joseph’s brother, Theodore, the famous china maker in France. The Havilands settled in Germantown, PA, a German Baptist community. And so I have German Baptists on both sides of my father’s family (the Millers and the Havilands). Most of the Germans who settled in Germantown were attached to religious groups outside of the established church. They sought a quiet and God-fearing life. Here are some of their traits I admire:
1) They founded agriculturally-based communities that were self-supporting, growing most of their own food.
2) They were heavily influenced by German pietism.
3) They said that the Bible taught that instruction for children was a duty of parents.
4) They believed in the separation of church and state, with God’s laws always taking precedent.
5) Discipleship, not decision-making (numbers), was central to them.
6) Most men wore beards (!).
7) They were often accused of being unpatriotic because of their stand on government.
8) They shared a disdain for materialism.
9) They saw no need for a formal “clergy,” rituals, sacraments, or buildings.
10)They practiced the weekly observance of the Lord’s Supper.
This is a rich heritage, and I look forward in the coming years to exploring it in greater depth. Doing genealogical research is a lot like studying Civil War history -- it's a big black hole. Once you fall in, it's almost impossible to climb out.
5:28 AM Today a friend of mine who teaches counseling and I were discussing the role of “lay people” in Christian counseling. He believes that we should not leave counseling to the “professionals” in our churches, and that every believer can and should minister to the Body in this way. I sent him a link to an essay on the topic as a reminder that the Scripture is very clear about whose job it is to admonish the unruly among us.
If you’re interested, you can read more here.
Thursday, June 22
5:41 AM Click here to read Becky Lynn's second Ethiopia report.
Wednesday, June 21
I've said it before, but Chuck is doing as much as anyone I know to restore America to her constitutional foundations. Thank you, Chuck.
6:52 AM During my Father's Day message last Sunday I asked to have Barry Manilow's "Ships" played over the PA system. I'm not too sure how well it went over. I guess you know you're getting old when you say "Barry Manilow" and people go, "Who?"
6:50 AM How 'bout this dressage move?
I'm patiently trying to teach Traveler (pictured below) to side pass like that. His response? "Look, boss, I was bred for one reason: to be a lean, mean, racing machine. Don't give me this walking sideways funny business, okay?" Cody, on the other hand, learned to side pass in one easy lesson.
6:45 AM I'm working on an essay entitled "Companionate Leadership." I'm still smiling over all the "interruptions" that have kept me from completing it. With a family of 11 coming to Bradford Hall this weekend we're spiffying up a bit.
6:42 AM Nathan's got our tractor working like a charm. All it took was some "goop" (he forgot the technical word for the copper coating) on all the wire connections and she's starting right up again. It looks like we'll get a second cutting of grass sometime fairly soon, so we need our mower, rake, and baler in good working condition. I'm sure glad there's someone in this family who understands how all these contraptions operate. It's all Chinese to me.
6:38 AM Kudos to Scott and Josh, winners of the 110 Award yesterday in Greek class. Scott is batting a perfect thousand; he's hit home runs 3 out of 3 times. I believe that's a first in my 29 years of teaching. Keep up the excellent work everyone. And remember: you still have 3 tries to get a free book.
6:34 AM Oscar Villa of the Philippines won our translation contest (see our May 6 blog entry) and is being sent a gratis copy of Learn to Read New Testament Greek. Here’s his rendering of the oik-root in Ephesians 2:19-22:
Don't you love it? Kaayaaya, Oscar.
6:31 AM Never go to church again.
Tuesday, June 20
6:10 AM We're having tractor trouble but we still managed to get up our square bales yesterday. Nathan thinks there's a loose battery wire somewhere. Even though he's good at troubleshooting, it can still be frustrating. Nate, hang in there; I know you can do it.
6:07 AM Greek One ends today, and Greek Two begins. We're half way there. Chin up, and knees down.
Side note: This semester we are dealing with the most difficult and controversial areas of Greek grammar. We'll see that exegesis has enormous implications for the way we do theology and even live the Christian life. We'll also try to learn how to avoid making the same errors of interpretation that seem to be passed down from age to age. All in all, it should be an interesting course with plenty of ramifications for life and ministry.
6:00 AM We've gotten some good responses to Becky's essay on Ethiopia. Whenever she writes she always throws her whole self into it. Have you noticed? That's how writing ought to be, I think. The main thing I gleaned from her essay was a reminder that we're not fighting against flesh and blood but powers much stronger than that. Still, Christ has gained the victory. If you don't believe it, talk to the Burji leaders, or the Alaba elders, or the saints in Hosanna. Or just ask Mom and Dad. These believers know everything about hardship and suffering and poverty and problems but they don't seem to mind. They "count it all joy" to serve the living Savior. As Becky and I talk about Ethiopia, we agree that God is doing a very special work in the Horn of Africa among the tribes and tongues and peoples and nations. That we should be a very small part of it is due solely to His grace. And then to see so many others getting involved is a blessing beyond imagination. We are unworthy, so unworthy of your love and prayers. May God bless all of you for what you are doing for His kingdom in Ethiopia.
5:54 AM Pastoring is the topic of a recent blog entry.
You'll find this nugget in the discussion here.
Monday, June 19
6:22 AM Becky Lynn has finished her first Ethiopia report. To read it, click here.
6:20 AM Becky has traced her family history back to Charlemagne and beyond, but I've just begun studying my genealogy. Last week I got my first big break. While tracing my paternal grandmother's line (the Millers) I was able to push back into the 18th century for the first time. In 1767 my great-great-great-great grandfather (J. H. Miller) was born in a small German Baptist (pacifist) community in Washington County, Maryland. Later he bought some land on a creek which his son and grandson farmed. In September, 1862, two great armies clashed on his land. The creek was called Antietam, and the nearby town was called Sharpsburg. Below is the present-day D. R. Miller farm and cornfield, located just north of the famous Dunker Church:
To the best of my knowledge, my g-g-g-g-grandfather's farm was situated to the northeast. I can't wait to drive up there and check it out for myself. I have reenacted the Battle of Sharpsburg in Maryland twice. The first time, I fought in the cornfield and survived the battle; the second time I was shot down in the Bloody Lane. I expect my next reenactment there will be a very special one indeed.
6:16 AM We finished painting the roof of Bradford Hall on Saturday. Today we are planning on baling hay then starting our next projects: a new chicken house, and a stone chimney for Nate's farmhouse.
Sunday, June 18
7:31 AM Becky attached this P.S. to an email she sent out yesterday:
My heart feels like a wet dish rag when I think about this young man. After our last trip to Ethiopia we had an evangelist take him to the capital for medical help, but the doctors said his tumor was inoperable. Becky left some pain medication with his father before she left Ethiopia. Here's a picture of the boy with his dad. The son squats because it is too painful for him to stand.
On this Father's Day, would you consider offering a prayer for this father and his son? Thank you, dear friends.
Saturday, June 17
1:25 PM Just back from taking Nathan to our local Mexican eatery for lunch. Two beef enchiladas con salsa verde and one tostada for $3.25. Can't beat that. I noticed this sign at the cash register:
There was another one that read:
I just love the country. Back to painting....
7:28 AM The International Dark-Sky Association posted this incredible picture of our planet. Of interest to me: (1) how undeveloped the continent of Africa is, and (2) how even Hawaii shows up in the photo.
7:22 AM If you're thinking about relocating this summer, here's a website that allows you to compare the cost of living in two different cities.
6:42 AM This note came from China:
And here's one from the Philippines:
What a wonderful blessing. Thank you.
6:38 AM One house roof painted, one to go. Wish us well.
6:35 AM Last night we went through the 600 slides Becky took in Ethiopia, and it was a blast. Lots of old faces, and many new ones as well. A few highlights:
1) Bereket's happy face. He is a joy-filled person.
2) Mom asleep on the plane sitting upright.
3) Nate using the table saw in Addis and cutting angles to the amazement of all.
4) Becky and Emebet in matching dresses that B. had sewn.
5) Dad and mom standing in front of their former homes in Gambo and Hosanna. What must have been going through their minds!
6) Dad enthralling the children with his GPS. (He's plugging the coordinates into his Google Earth.)
7) Mom with her flute in Alaba and Soyama (they had never seen or heard anything like that before).
8) Nate explaining to the church elders why they were having termite damage in their buildings (faulty foundation work).
9) Becky's face while listening to a man who had recently been converted to Christ from Islam.
And to think that one year ago we had no idea any of this would be happening. I am so proud of mom and dad for holding up so well, and of Becky for organizing everything. I missed all of them terribly while they were gone, but it was a trip that had to be and that met and exceeded our expectations. Becky and I have been much in prayer about our next visit to Ethiopia, which may be as early as December. I'm not going to say yet what we're hoping to do, but it's pretty exciting.
Look for Becky's first detailed report on Monday.
Below: Nathan's family saying goodbye to him at the Bole airport in Addis.
6:28 AM What language do you speak?
6:23 AM The Philippians 4 Girl is urging her readers to become barbarians.
Friday, June 16
6:48 AM The latest addition to our home page is called Our Supreme Business.
6:45 AM Mark Goodacre offers some good counsel about specialization in biblical studies – its advantages and disadvantages. He writes: “The key, formative moments are, I think, when our graduate students are doing their research. I think we need to encourage them not to think of themselves as a developing ‘Paulinist’ or a ‘Historical Jesus expert’ etc. I think we ought to encourage them to aspire to be a good, rounded scholar with things to say about lots of different topics.” I was struck by Mark’s acknowledgement that even experts do not have to read everything on a given subject in order to publish on it. I have always believed that way myself. If Mark’s observations are correct, I suppose we’d better start revamping the way we do doctoral studies here in the states.
Note: During my orals at the University of Basel (which come at the end of your program, after you've written your dissertation), I had been asked to prepare myself ahead of time on several topics, including Paul's letter to the Philippians. (Other topics included Moltmann's theology and Cullmann's work on time, if I recall correctly.) As the 3 examiners drilled me on Philippians I noticed that not one of their questions actually dealt with that epistle. A typical question was, "Where else in the Pauline Corpus do we find the high Christology of Phil. 2:5-11?" Or, "Which other writings of Paul have been considered pastiches, and why?" The professors were interested in breadth every bit as much as depth. Very wise.
6:40 AM The Internet Monk has a wonderful essay that speaks to a problem many Christians struggle with:
6:38 AM A big Friday shout-out to Scott and Burke of our Greek class who won the 110 Award yesterday by perfectly translating into Greek, “You have sinned against God because you are an evil tax collector.” (Don’t ask me what that sentence means. It’s simply a test of grammar.) The winners selected their prizes from the following books: It’s Still Greek to Me, Rethinking the Synoptic Problem, The Myth of Adolescence, and Linguistics and New Testament Interpretation.
6:36 AM This letter from an Australian pastor greatly blessed my heart even as it pointed out significant weaknesses in American churchianity (note sentence in black):
Thursday, June 15
5:55 AM Prairie Bible Institute in Alberta, Canada, announces an opening in Bible, theology, and philosophy.
5:53 AM My “two sents” are working on their Ethiopia reports. At least Becky is. Let’s see if we can get Nate to write one too. I think you’d enjoy hearing his perspective on the trip.
5:50 AM Greek students! Coffee Spoons has a new word for the day. See if you can figure out its etymology (without clicking on the links).
5:47 AM At the Two or Three site, you can read about who’s getting a pay raise with only a 20 percent approval rating. I can remember the days when this would have been considered government bloat.
5:45 AM Last night there were 12 adults at our mid-week Bible study and prayer meeting, 2 of whom were visitors. This is truly the biggest little church I have ever been in. I am humbled to say this is my church. These are my neighbors, Southern Baptists for generations, loyal to Jesus, passionate for world evangelism, lovers of the Word, some struggling economically but all rich in eternal things. Some of us are shut-ins, 6 of us are in nursing homes, many of us are elderly, a few of us are seriously ill. Yet, "we are not divided, all one body we." That's exactly how I feel. I am not ashamed to say publicly that I love all of you – each and every one of you – with my heart and soul. May the Lord Jesus bless His Body called Averett Baptist Church.
Wednesday, June 14
6:03 AM As I type a steady rain is falling. Farmers can never complain. When it's dry outside, we can get our work done. When it's raining, our crops are getting much needed moisture.
5:59 AM What do you do when you're covered the imperfect, aorist, and perfect tenses, as well as pronouns and additional prepositions? Have an exam, of course. Again, it will be a take-home test, using the honor system. When Robert E. Lee was president of Washington College he built a new chapel on campus. Everyone was wondering: Will he require chapel attendance or not? So important to him were chapel services that everyone assumed chapel attendance would be compulsory. Lee's policy? He made attendance in the most important building on campus voluntary. You don't force people to worship God, he said. It's a matter of duty, he told his students, many of whom were his former soldiers. President Lee led by example, and today you can still see the pew where he sat in the front of the chapel building. Needless to say, chapel services were always full. I have a statement in my course syllabus I'd like to share with you. It goes like this:
That just about sums up my honor code.
5:42 AM Alan Cross has begun preaching through the book of Philippians. Here are his notes on the opening paragraph. A highlight:
It’s amazing how much we can learn from Paul’s letter openings about church leadership.
Tuesday, June 13
5:46 AM A belated congratulations to two former students of mine, Courtney and Michael, who were married last Friday on campus. The chapel on campus is still decorated from their wedding. It looks beautiful. My Greek class meets in a room just below the chapel.
5:42 AM In a few minutes I'll be leaving for campus to introduce our next lesson and to prep my students for their second exam, which I will send home with them tomorrow. It has been nothing but a joy to spend time sharing my love for the Greek language with a wonderful group of young people (and some older ones as well). I never cease to marvel that men and women who could be spending their time and energy on other things are tackling an ancient language instead. They are already one-third of the way to being able to read their Greek New Testaments with the use of a lexicon. I'm going out on a limb here and saying that I believe this will be one of the best classes I've taught in 29 years as a professor.
5:40 AM I've just started talking to Becky about our next trip to Ethiopia and what we feel the Lord wants us to do, and I can say I would return today if that were possible. Word is that one school wants me to teach a course in linguistics for pastors and Bible translators, but I would agree to teach in Addis only if I could minister among the people in the rural countryside as well. Meanwhile, Becky tells me she'll be starting to write her post-trip reports this week, so you can look forward to reading those in the days and weeks ahead. Since I didn't go on this trip I'm like most of you: waiting on pins and needles to hear all the details.
5:38 AM Fudge lost one of her babies but the other one is doing fine and loves to be held and cuddled. He romps with the "big boys" like he is 3 months old instead of 3 days old. Traveler gets jealous and comes over for a back rub and to have his neck scratched, then Snowball thinks it's her turn for some TLC. I could spend a whole day in the pasture if I had the time. Animals are full of profound insights if we'll just take the time and make the effort to notice them.
Monday, June 12
5:43 AM Here's more on the so-called synoptic problem and Markan priority. I'm glad to see that the external evidence (i.e., the statements of the church fathers) comes into play.
5:40 AM I see the state of Kerala in India is in the news as a possible site of a major Roman port in ancient times. I enjoyed Kerala immensely. It reminded me of Hawaii -- very tropical, with fruit trees everywhere. I can see why Roman traders would have wanted a seaport there.
5:35 AM Had a relaxing and profitable Sunday, speaking in Cary and then taking a long walk on the farm. Also did some target practice. Today begins our final week of Greek One, so you could say we're on the home stretch. I'm inclined to compare our Greek class with taking a long drink from a fire hydrant. A little bit of water from a gentle fountain can go a long way, but put your mouth in front of a fire hydrant and things can get mighty dangerous. The same water that brings refreshment can also bring injury. What to do, then, in light of the relentless flow of information coming at us like a hydrant under high pressure? When I was surfing Sunset Beach or Pipeline in Hawaii, most of the tiredness I experienced was in the mind, not in the arms. It was helpful to know that. With all the paddling and swimming involved in big wave surfing, more than once I thought to myself, "Why not give up and go home to a comfortable bed like any other sane person?" I noticed that those who "pooped out" had several things in common. Some were barely physically fit enough to surf, some lacked courage, and others saw little logic in paddling and swimming 4 or 5 hours only to get in, say, 3 really good rides. I quickly learned that I needed to pace myself, make my wave selections carefully, and learn to make good use of whatever lulls came my way. In studying Greek in such a concentrated period of time we quickly discover what "shape" we are in and whether we have the self-discipline and courage to stick it out. At least once a day we need to take a long pit stop when there is a need for refreshment, much like a NASCAR racer when he stops for fuel and tires, thereby gaining fresh strength for further duties. Above all, I think it helps to keep the goal constantly in mind: the privilege of reveling in the greatest Book of all time. Martin Luther once said reading the Bible in translation is like kissing your bride through the veil. I much prefer the other option, don't you?
Sunday, June 11
7:22 AM Please join us in extending a warm welcome to Fudge's twins, who were born yesterday evening. Who'll be next?
7:20 AM Trivium Pursuit announces the arrival of Little Bitty Baby Learns Greek.
Saturday, June 10
4:55 PM We did as much painting today as we could without painting ourselves into a corner. I say "we" but I mean, of course, Nathan. I am the gofer and my job is to make sure that he is amply supplied with paint, brushes, roofing screws, drinking water, etc. The plan is to allow the paint to dry and to finish the project on Monday. The weather could not have been more ideal for working outdoors.
Our next project is painting Bradford Hall's rolled tin roof. The big dilemma: Which color would look best -- green or red?
4:42 PM This afternoon I spoke with one of our sons in Ethiopia. Fasil is getting ready to teach Greek on Monday and needed some advice, so he called Papa B. We had a great chat, and I know he'll do a superb job. Here's a question I often ask my students: Is learning Greek about parsing and principal parts? No. It's about getting to know God more intimately through His Word. Needless to say, I say this over and over again lest my students develop a big head and a small heart. Personally, I think very little of human standards of academic "success." The world system has everything backwards. Love is not sex, wealth is not money, faithfulness is not success, and relationship is not religion. Very few people understand this today, but Fasil is someone who does. God bless you, Fasil, as you begin your class next week. May it be a joy to you and your students and a blessing to the Lord you serve so faithfully.
8:23 AM This was a good week. Becky and Nathan returned home safely, my Greek students successfully negotiated their second week of summer school, and we got one roof painted and have about a fourth of another one done. It's a good day to enjoy the farm and spend some extra time with the Lord. There can be no output without input, and occasionally we have to cry out "Stop!" I try to do this every day at least once. When I leave the house in the morning, I never do so without pausing and soaking in the beauty of nature all around me and the tranquility of the farmland. This is what greeted me at 6:30 this morning:
Then I walked through the back yard checking out Becky's raised garden beds (she's been enjoying working on them since her return):
The fact is that our pace of life is normally not to be governed by the urgent but by inner discipline. Yes, I have a "schedule" today (go to post office, paint roof, make a trash run, honor phone appointment at 1:00, work on my message for tomorrow, etc.), but I don't think Jesus was ever a slave of the clock. And for me, the farm is a refuge, a place to recharge my batteries for next week's labors. It's like the old black frying pan my wife and I like to use when we want to make the best pancakes. The secret of this pan is the buildup of grease from all the times it's been used. That's what the farm is for me: it's the "build up," the familiarity. I hope you can find a safe place today to be restored in soul and body. We should not be reluctant throughout the day to create momentary safe places: in the car, in a waiting room, on the back porch, in the bathroom. You can build an altar in your heart just about anywhere.
8:13 AM The latest addition to our home page is called Teaching Our Children Practical Skills.
8:10 AM Just received these responses to our essay, The Church No One Wanted To Join:
Friday, June 9
5:53 AM Glory to God! Our first exam was a huge success. Two-thirds of the class made a score of over 100. And 3 students made a perfect 110. They got 10 extra credit points by correctly translating the following sentence into Greek: "The righteous disciples will lead the good women into the way of truth." Congratulations to all.
5:51 AM I turn 54 today. Becky is planning a nice spaghetti supper.
Thursday, June 8
6:20 AM Last night at our prayer meeting Becky was asked to give an impromptu report about her trip to Ethiopia. Here are some highlights:
1) Over 400 non-prescription eyeglasses were distributed. And there is a need for many more.
2) The flannelgraph sets she left with the churches are being used in the villages with great success.
3) Bereket's eye is doing great. He just had his stitches removed, and in July he will be fitted with reading glasses. He will begin attending a private school in Gondar this fall.
4) Mom and dad were simply blown away at everything they saw. The Lord gave them good health for the entire trip. Mom's flute was a big hit.
5) Becky met personally with each of our 8 sons and our daughter while she was there. All are doing fine.
6) In Burji, the Bible memory program is going gangbusters. So far 1,132 people have completed it, and many more are memorizing their passages. The deadline is September 10, the last day of the year in the Ethiopian calendar.
7) Nathan had numerous opportunities to put his carpentry skills to good use. He built a set of bookshelves in Burji and advised the churches in Alaba on how to build proper foundations for their meeting halls.
8) Dad says Becky should write a book about the church in Alaba. He's right. And she'd do a great job. What the Lord Jesus is doing among the Muslims there is mind-boggling.
Stay tuned for Becky's reports. This is only a small appetizer.
6:12 AM Paul’s statement in 1 Cor. 9:5 is amazing when you think about it. It offers a glimpse into the life and thought of the early church. At its simplest, the verse tells us that the apostles and the brothers of the Lord took their wives with them on their missionary journeys and that both (not just the men) were given hospitality wherever they traveled. The words translated “believing wife” are literally “a sister, a wife.” The double accusative in Greek can be rendered, “Do we not have the right to take along a sister as a wife…?” (Another instance of this category is Acts 13:5, “They had John as a helper.”) There are several implications of this simple statement for Christian marriage, not least that our wives are first and foremost our sisters in Christ. The spiritual relationship is every bit as important as the marital one. Moreover, the apostles and the brothers of the Lord (James and Jude) apparently traveled with their spouses whenever possible. I think they set good example for the rest of us, even though Paul and Barnabas did not take advantage of this "right" when they went on their missionary journeys. This Sunday I will be speaking from this passage and asking the question: "What is the most important right Christians have?" The answer, of course, is the right to give up our rights!
6:09 AM Yesterday we painted the tin roof on the old tobacco barn, and today we begin painting the roof to Nathan's farm house. I am always amazed at Nathan's ability to work on roofs. He is so steadfast and confident, without a touch of acrophobia. I'm glad at least one of us lacks that trait. I'm excited to have him home and we thoroughly enjoy working together.
Wednesday, June 7
6:13 AM The latest addition to our home page is called The Church No One Wanted To Join.
6:10 AM For all my fellow dog lovers:
Tuesday, June 6
5:54 AM Charleston Southern University in Charleston, SC, is looking for a chairperson for its Religion Department.
5:50 AM Looking back at Sunday's services, it's clear that God was moving in the hearts of many people in a powerful way. It was also good to be ministering in a rural church again. I felt right at home. Northern Halifax county contains some of Virginia's loveliest real estate, which made the hour drive a joy and delight. Special shout-out to Chris and Ken for inviting me to lunch afterwards in one of Brookneal's family diners, where I enjoyed a Southern favorite: chicken fried steak with mashed potatoes and okra.
5:47 AM Do you have an irrational fear of the number 666? I ask this question because today is 6/6/06. The technical term for this phobia is a fabulous Greek monstrosity: "hexakosioihexekontahexaphobia."
5:45 AM Today I'm sending my Greek students home with their first exam. Now comes the challenge of putting it all together -- all the practice and paradigms and vocabulary and morphology and memorization. It takes moment-by-moment dependence on the Holy Spirit to succeed in this class, that's for sure. The exam will consist of translation, parsing, and a 10-point extra credit sentence (English to Greek). We'll see who wins the much-coveted "110 Award" tomorrow morning when we grade our tests in class. I hope many do.
5:41 AM We just moved all the animals over to a different pasture. I noticed that while Becky and Nathan were gone our billy goat Pharaoh was keeping busy. All the females are royally pregnant.
Monday, June 5
8:22 PM Guess what Becky and I just did? We planted rose clippings that came from Gambo, mom and dad's last mission station in Ethiopia. Now that was special. As for Nathan, he couldn't wait to get back on his tractor and has been plowing up another corn field. For supper this evening we enjoyed a meal that he requested: Macaroni and cheese. That's what he had a hankering for after two and a half weeks in Africa. It seems that my greatest craving after a trip like that is always for Doritos and salsa. At any rate, I think everyone is happy to be back home. I sure am glad to have them back.
Sunday, June 4
9:06 PM We just got back from the airport. All are safe and sound and snuggled in their beds, dead tired. It's 4:00 am their time. I take mom and dad back to the airport at 6:00 in the morning for their flight to Dallas. The trip was by all accounts amazing. I am very grateful for the many expressions of love and concern that came our way during their trip. Please accept my sincere thanks. I hope to provide updates in the days ahead. That's the plan at least. We'll see how things work out. Right now we need to see that Becky Lynn and Nathan chill out and get lots of rest.
6:10 AM Twenty-nine summers ago I was working as a lifeguard in Southern California, still uncertain about my life’s direction. I had known Miss Becky Lapsley of Dallas, Texas, for two and a half years, but she had just returned to her home after graduating from Biola College. That fall I was slated to teach Greek at Biola while working on my M.Div. degree. The question on my mind was: Should I or should I not visit Becky in Texas? One evening my pastor’s wife sat me down and said, “Dave, don’t you know you’re supposed to marry that girl?” She was right. Becky was a gift God was trying to give me, but it took a while to get my attention and shuffle my priorities. So off I went to the Big D, where I proposed, and six weeks later Becky and I were in Hawaii on our honeymoon. Today she returns to the States after taking her parents back to their mission stations in Ethiopia. I'm so proud of her. In ten lifetimes I could never be the man Becky deserves, but I love her with all my heart. Here are some reasons why.
Welcome home, darling. I missed you. I love you.
Saturday, June 3
2:27 PM Just back from visiting and praying with our shut-ins and delivering eggs to our neighbors. As I drove through our farm on my return I was treated to numerous rabbits, squirrels, and deer, along with our goats, cattle, and my horse -- all out and about enjoying this beautiful, sunny day. What a sight. Becky and company should be going through security at Bole Airport right about now. I can imagine all the emotions as they leave behind friends and family. Right now I'm going to take advantage of the clear weather and get some weeding done.
12:18 PM My love and prayers are with:
These men are all pastoring in Southside, VA, where I live.
8:15 AM D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, of Westminster Chapel in London, had this to say about open, participatory meetings:
7:54 AM Lord willing, at 3:45 pm today (EST) Team Ethiopia will board a Lufthansa flight for Frankfurt on the first leg of their trip home. Right now they are attending a graduation service for two of our sons. Time to get out the vacuum and dust mop.
7:52 AM Is the main difference between modern Bible translations the underlying Greek text or the English? This essay will help you to answer this question.
7:50 AM Click here for the latest information about our upcoming conference, "The Last Twelve Verses of Mark: Original or Not?"
7:47 AM Bethany College in Bethany, West Virginia, announces an opening in Biblical Studies or World Religions.
7:44 AM Looking forward to tomorrow, I'll be traveling almost to Appomattox to speak at Childrey Baptist Church. They have two services (8:30 and 11:00). When I spoke with one of their deacons yesterday afternoon we talked about how desperately we were praying for rain. Well, last night the Lord opened the spigot of heaven and gave our parched crops a good, long drink.
Friday, June 2
5:23 AM The winning word was German. Congratulations, Kerry.
5:21 AM Help! I am a huge fan of the Haven of Rest Quartet but cannot find their music for sale. If any of you know where I can purchase some of their older cassettes (prior to 1990), I'd love to hear from you.
5:19 AM Our Greek class is going well. Yesterday, in honor of the National Spelling Bee, we had our own spelling competition in class. The winner got a free copy of Rethinking the Synoptic Problem. (He spelled "They will have" correctly in Greek.) Some students thrive in a faced-pace course like this, while others tend to struggle. Speaking personally, when I was in seminary I would have preferred taking one course at a time rather than 5 courses all at once. Either way, languages are difficult subjects that demand a great deal of time and discipline. I'm glad it's Friday. The students need a much-deserved break, and the law of diminishing returns is beginning to kick in. On Monday we'll pick up with our first chapter on adjectives.
5:14 AM Congratulations to Steve Frary of the seminary's library, whose essay "Who Was Manifested in the Flesh? A Consideration of Internal Evidence in Support of a Variant in 1 Tim 3:16a" just appeared in the journal Filologia Neotestamentaria.
5:12 AM As anyone who has been there can attest, Europe is a mission field. Greater Europe Mission's website has an excellent guide to the various countries of Europe and how you can help. I suppose that if I were not teaching here in the States I would be serving at a Bible Institute somewhere in Europe, so strong is my desire to see that continent discipled.
5:10 AM 3 days.
Thursday, June 1
5:59 AM As you know, I've been doing the farm chores by myself until Nathan gets back. So this quote by G. K. Chesterton had me smiling:
It's a busy life, homesteading is, but I want everyone to know that my heart is filled with gratitude to God for allowing me to live and farm in Southside Virginia alongside men and women who have worked the land for generations. Just a few short years ago I had no idea I would be doing any of this.
5:48 AM Here's a sobering report about cybercensorship in Ethiopia.
5:46 AM My heart goes out to these Vietnamese Christians who are being severely persecuted. May they take courage from these words of Charles Spurgeon:
5:42 AM Today I'm introducing how inflection works in the Greek noun system. Those of you who have learned some German will have an advantage over the rest of us on this one. Here's an excellent guide to the Greek noun and its various cases. This is an important and difficult topic, and you can easily get a charley horse between the ears if you're not careful.
5:36 AM Noteworthy essays:
5:32 AM Someone asked me the other day what the key to learning Greek is. Everyone wants to be successful in whatever they do, including language learning. The only "key" that I know of is in God's grace, which is freely given and which we have freely received. The Father has given all things to the Son, and the Son gives all things to the children, the joint heirs, the blood-bought sons of God. Too often we want help and strength and peace only to realize our own designs, which may not be His will at all. If you are seeking His will, and if you have consented not only to His ownership but to His possession of all of you, then you can be sure the King will provide what you need to master Greek. At the same time, we are merely stewards of our days and had better number them so that we can apply our hearts unto wisdom.
5:26 AM At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I think it's interesting that the Reformer John Knox felt it appropriate for men to ask questions and give an exhortation in the congregation after the sermon.
5:22 AM If I still lived in Hawaii would I be doing this? Only if I had a divine "calling" to this ministry, I suppose: