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March 2020 Blog Archives

Tuesday, March 31

1:10 PM So here's the latest in our neck of the woods. People are being encouraged to:

1) Go for a short walk or run while maintaining physical distance from others.

2) Walk their dog but not congregate at the dog park.

3) Shop at grocery stores that are open as long as you are not sick and practice social distancing.

4) Continue visiting restaurants that remain open for pick-up and delivery. 

When I go to the track or the trail I do see some other runners out there but I always try to maintain distance. Today it's too rainy to go outside for a workout but the rest of the week looks like it will be sunny. Today I had two Zoom conferences plus several phone chats with students. I haven't been to the gym in weeks and I don't have any plans to do any weight training until the crisis is over. I'm finding hope in the realization that we are all so alike even though we are all so different. We all are scared. We all are vulnerable. We all need hope. We all need to try and find purpose and direction during this crisis. One thing is certain: We are learning just how badly we depend on each other and how badly we need the Lord. I love being able to "talk" to my students via the internet. I am just heartbroken for everyone who is suffering right now. I can't even fathom the anxiety and worry of those who have lost their jobs. I don't know about you, but I couldn't make it through a single day without Jesus. No one need be ashamed of such simple faith. The keenest intellects have spent their entire lives with this book we call the Bible, have been challenged by its teaching, and have confessed to barely to touching the surface of its treasures. Even if you're an intellectual, we all need to approach the Bible with the heart of a child. Take the Book for what it claims to be, my friend, and rest your weary soul upon it. Take it by faith and it will prove itself over and over again. God's people are pilgrims bound not only for heaven but for a victorious Christian life in the here-and-now. Let our unsaved friends see in us a people who have nothing and yet possess everything because all we have belongs to the Lord and we are only the stewards.

I am praying for you today -- those of you who are still going to your workplace, those of you who are working from home, those of you who aren't working at all because your place of employment has been shut down, those of you who are in poor health, those of you who are grocery store staff or medical staff or in law enforcement, those of you who are lonely and doubting. Hear His gracious words above the storm: "It is I. Be of good cheer. Don't be afraid" (Matt. 14:27). Do not toss and turn but trust.

Monday, March 30

8:08 PM I snapped these photos on my walk this evening. Tonight was pure magic. I don't know any other way to describe it.

5:22 PM Right now I'm sitting here at my computer watching my granddaughter help lead singing and my son-in-law bring a wonderful message from Hebrews 10 (live-streamed yesterday from their church in Alabama). Life don't get no bettah and that's a fact. Earlier today I did what I look forward to doing every spring. In fact, unless you're a landscaper, I'm sure your passion for mowing doesn't surpass mine.

And the flowers? Oh my. They were out in force today, clapping their hands to the Great Creator.

The average American spends 90 percent of his or her day indoors. 86 percent of workers spend all day sitting at their jobs. Studies have shown that getting outdoors increases creativity, productivity, and positivity. Businesses realize this and many incorporate a bit of nature into their offices (our office suite enjoys a wide variety of live plants). Nature (or, for us Christians, creation) can have a powerful effect on us for the good, whether it's during a leisurely walk or while doing yard or farm work. Don't get me wrong: I love teaching. But ain't nothin' like the great outdoors to find soul-refreshment.

Do you have an office job?

Do you get outdoors as often as you'd like?

What benefits have you seen from enjoying being out in creation?

7:12 AM I will be in my Wake Forest office this morning grading Greek quizzes and participating in a Zoom prayer meeting with my suite colleagues. Then I'll pick up my mail and return to the splendid confinement of the farm. Not much I have to do to try and self-isolate here since whenever I'm on the farm it's pretty much me, the animals, and 123 quiet acres. I may stop at the grocery store on the way home. For some crazy reason I'm in the mood for turkey and dressing. Since you asked about it (you did ask, right?), I'm going to take a day or two off from running though I might get in another long bike in tomorrow. I'm trying to keep my training to at least 40 miles per week. We'll see how that goes.

And on that note I need to say goodbye so I can invade the great state of North Carolina.

Sunday, March 29

7:48 PM It's always fun to change your exercise routine from time too time. Lately I've been feeling a bit bored with running and cycling. I'm feeling the need to pull back a little bit and take a break. In lieu of a run today, I therefore went for a long hike. I wanted to hike for about 6 hours and see how far that got me. So I drove up to Farmville, parked the car, then began ambulating through the highways and byways between Farmville and Burkeville. It was great getting outdoors again, and this time I unplugged from everything -- email, text messages, phone calls, my camera, photos -- everything. It was wonderful! I ended up going about 22 miles on today's hike.

How do you say tired? But it's nothing a good night's sleep can't cure. By far the best part of the day was spending time with Jesus without any interruptions. I'm not kidding you, I wish I had thought about this unplugging thing earlier. Overall I had a great time and a reminder that there's nothing at all wrong with getting outside and hiking from time to time. 

Thanks for checking in, and have a great week.

Saturday, March 28

6:52 PM My body is on the farm, but my mind has wandered disobediently to my home town....

... where I'm surrounded by the trade winds and the smell of plumeria.

Oh my do I miss Kailua Beach.

In the meantime, I'm sitting here grading exams (online, of course) and thinking about all the perks of working from home:

1) I get to be with my animals all the time.

2) Coffee breaks? All day long.

3) I get to wear whatever I want. (Right now I'm in swim shorts, flip flops, and shirtless.)

4) I can count washing the dishes as work.

5) I have a vending machine (i.e., pantry) within easy reach at all times.

6) I can work whenever I want to, whether it's 5:00 am or 10:30 pm.

7) The view from my office is incredible.

Do I miss the comradery of the office and the excitement of the classroom? Are you kidding????? Some observers are wondering out loud whether the future has become the present. The coronavirus, they argue, will make online education "go viral." Bandwidth problems? 5G will solve them. So it seems pretty clear: Online learning will become more and more central to the way we teach and learn in the 21st century. Does this mean that the days of classes filled with eager students sharing their opinions are over? That's not a trivial question. I don't think those days are over. I hope not. In fact, I'm pretty hopeful that face-to-face classes will resume one day. Meanwhile, however, in times like these it's crucial that human tutoring be facilitated through online and digital means. Even crucial for tech klutzes like me. Which means ...

Back to grading :-)

What's your best work-at-home perk?

11:48 AM So, let's just call me lazy. Just back from a very easy 3 mile walk at the track. I could have gone farther but I was feeling, well, too lazy. In fact, I don't have any plans for today except to chillax and be lazy. Like any runner, I know there's a time to exercise and there's a time to refrain from exercising. I think I've said this a million times on this blog: The trick to exercising is not overdoing it. The minute you even contemplate running every day is the minute you are one step closer to injury. So, today will be an easy day. A lazy day. But tomorrow's another story. The forecast is calling for sunny skies with a high of 82 -- my kind of day exactly. That means either a very long bike or a very long walk/run. Right now I'm being pulled back to the High Bridge Trail in Farmville. Gorgeous scenery, plus peace and quiet. Triathlon is calling me back too ... but they won't be opening any of our local pools until mid-summer probably. So for now it's either biking or hiking or running. Either way, my exercise calendar is filling up with good stuff.

But for now -- it's time to be lazy.

Friday, March 27

2:25 PM So, I'm curious. Are you a runner? If so, have you ever tried LSD (Long Slow Distance) running, aka low heart rate running? If you've been reading my blog for any length of time, you know that I've been training for my June marathon by using this method of training. The goal is not to maintain a certain pace in order to complete a distance in a certain amount of time. Instead, the idea is to plod along, steadily, building your aerobic base so that when you do race, you will have a strong foundation to build on. There's nothing magical about a long run. You just get outdoors and do it. But be forewarned. It can get boring. You're out there for a long time. Today it took me just over 3 hours to run a half marathon.

But I didn't run today to try and match or beat my half marathon PR (2:27). The long run is a test, not of speed, but of perseverance, patience, self-discipline, determination, and stamina. The goal is to stay within a low to medium heart rate range. For me, that's about 120 beats per minute. Thankfully, I was able to maintain that heart rate for most of today's run.

Also critical is hydration and nutrition. Bring along your favorite gel or candy bar, and don't forget a drink that's packed with electrolytes. Try not to stare at your watch. Instead, focus on how your body is feeling. Your body will tell you if you're going too slow or too fast. Above all, enjoy the experience. Yes, 13.1 miles is a long distance. It can feel like forever. Just let it go. Tell yourself "I get to do this." And, when it's over, be sure to give yourself plenty of time to rest and recover so that your body can recover from the stress you're putting on it.

Any other tips to share?

9:10 AM I must be a Greek nerd after all. Listening to the Beatles during my run yesterday I kept saying to myself, "Lookie there -- a middle voice!" or "Wow, they used the article of previous reference!" To wit:

1) At the end of "I Am the Walrus," someone says "Sit you down, father, and rest you." This is the same as "Sit down, father, and rest" but the middle is brought out more clearly by the addition of "you."

2) In the first stanza of "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds," reference is made to "a girl with kaleidoscope eyes." Then, in the last stanza, she's called "the girl with kaleidoscope eyes."

Then there's the rhyming in "With a Little Help from My Friends":

  • I get by

  • I get high

  • Gonna try

The Beatles -- linguistic geniuses. 

Ok. Off for my run!

8:24 AM My Bible time this AM was in Matt. 28.

Here the risen Jesus tells the women, "Go and tell My brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see Me." Wow. Jesus uses "brothers" to describe His disciples, who were also His apostles. My mind immediately went to Heb 2:11:

He purifies people from their sins, and both He and those who are made pure all have the same Father. That's why Jesus isn't ashamed to call them His brothers. He says to God, "I will tell My brothers what you have done. I will praise You in their meeting."

It is wonderful to have a brother in Jesus. A big brother, to be sure, but a brother nonetheless. I so want to become like my elder brother, not least in His utter condescension and willingness to identity with people in their suffering. How glorious to be the adopted child of God and the brother or sister of the Lord Jesus.

8:12 AM Working on my glossary this morning.

This book has been very helpful.

So helpful it deserves a place next to the great A. T.

Thursday, March 26

8:14 PM My daughter brought me some homemade bread today.

Yes, I toasted it and yes, it was delicious and yes, I'm completely spoiled.

7:42 PM Just back from our evening walk.

Yes, I said "our." Sheba is always by my side. Here she is getting her evening scratch.

The lifespan of a Sheltie is 12-14 years. Sheba is 14. She is completely deaf and almost blind. I love her so much. The thing that's the hardest is that there is absolutely nothing you can do to prevent your dog from aging. What we do have, however, are ample opportunities to love on our pets for as long as the Lord gives them to us. I am tearing up just writing this. There will never be another dog like my Sheba. Every moment with her is truly special.

6:42 PM Been working on the farm this afternoon. The big question is: What should I plant in my garden once frost season ends? If you're a gardener, how do you prioritize what to grow? How much do you grow? What do you eat the most? I think I'm going to start by making a list of all the veggies I tend to purchase regularly at the grocery store. Already I can think of carrots, broccoli, and yellow squash. Problem is, we have never done well with either carrots or broccoli in the past. Squash, on the other hand, seems to grow well in the soil we have here at Rosewood. Plus, I consume squash on a regular basis, and Lord knows I've got plenty of growing space for that plant. Anyway, if you garden and would be willing to share with me some of your insights, send me an email.

Please do take care y'all. "Let's finish this" is my motto. Let's do what we have to do, when we have to do it, to get past this crisis. Today is all I've got. It's all you've got too. Today is a call to do something helpful and positive -- big or small. It's a time to follow through with what we say we will do, to have goals that are bigger than us. As with any crisis, life is forever changed and what was once normal will probably never be normal again. At this moment, life is so unpredictable. But the one thing we can do is look out for each other, like the grocery store I went to today that has started rationing how many loaves of bread or packages of meat you could buy at one time. If your kids or grandkids start Face-Timing with you more than usual, thank them for it. Let's make it our goal to get the most love, momentum, and energy moving to defeat this scourge. And let's not forget the unfinished work of Christ. His finished work is to be proclaimed. His unfinished work is to be performed. During this time of questioning and uncertainty, we are debtors to get the message out that Jesus is Lord and that He loves the people of this desperate age.

Thank you, and I hope you make the most out of your weekend. 

12:30 PM An easy 6(ish) miles today. Hope to double that tomorrow for my long(ish) run.

I need to say goodbye so I can take a nap and then get my outdoor work done.

7:34 AM Is anybody else looking forward to sunny and warmer days again? As you can see, today's sunrise promises a lovely day here in Southside Virginia.

And y'all know what that means, yessiree, another run. Not necessarily a long run. I think I'll save that for tomorrow, when the temps are supposed to get into the high 70s. Overall, shaping up to be a great day in isolation: writing this morning, then a run, then a nap, then farm work in the afternoon while catching some much-needed rays and vitamin D.

Hope your day is going well.

7:10 AM In my book on the kingdom, right now I'm talking about the place of good works in the Christian life. A key text:

For when we are in union with Christ Jesus, neither circumcision nor the lack of it makes any difference at all. What matters is faith that works through love.

True faith, if it is indeed true, is more than a doctrinal system. Faith endures only when it's nurtured in an environment of service to others. Without deeds, faith erodes. Without sacrifice, faith flops. Faith says, I will relinquish my rights. I will surrender my pride that refuses to take risks on behalf of others. Faith working through love is life-changing. Trees seem greener, colors seems brighter, and tomorrow's Greek exam seems less threatening when we treat others as God does -- with sacrificial love.

6:25 AM Taking a little break from writing.

  • First job? Plumber assistant on the Kaneohe Marine Corps Air Station.

  • Hidden talent? Drawing.

  • Favorite vacation spot? Kailua Beach.

  • Trait you most value in a friend? Honesty. And loyalty.

  • How would your co-workers describe you? Zany.

  • One thing you would never splurge on? Shirts and pants.

  • One thing you would splurge on? Running shoes.

  • It's a good day when? I get to see my grandkids.

  • Skill set you'd most like to improve? Cooking.

  • One place you're determined to visit before you die? Nepal.

  • If you could trade jobs with someone for a day, who would that be? Airline pilot.

  • What's in your refrigerator that would surprise us? Bubbly (non-alcoholic).

  • Best advice you ever received? Don't take yourself too seriously.

  • Favorite Bible verse? Rom. 12:13.

  • Something that scares you? Lightening.

  • Favorite non-Bible author? John Stott.

  • The simplest thing you never learned to do? Change the oil in my ride mower.

I know this is stupid, but stupid is necessary sometimes.

Wednesday, March 25

8:08 PM Awesome. 

6:20 PM Today we had our first ever faculty meeting via Zoom. It was a smashing success. It struck me afresh what a privilege it is to have a small hand in preparing the next generation of Christians to follow Jesus in love and obedience.

Speaking of generations, here's a nifty little chart I stumbled upon today.

It's called a Doktorvater Tree. "Doktorvater" is German for "Doctor Father." That's what you call the professor who mentored you through your doctoral program. Reicke (not Reiche) studied under Fridrichsen in Uppsala. I studied under Reicke in Basel. Himes studied under me in Wake Forest. Teaching is demanding and sometimes frustrating work, but it offers the rewards of great joy and fulfillment to those who pour their heart and soul into it.

The good work goes on ....

2:06 PM How's your week going? I'm slowly getting back into biking and it's going surprisingly well. Today I got in a short 10-mile ride which, despite the rather unpleasant weather (cold and drizzly), was lots of fun.

This afternoon it's supposed to feel like spring again and I'm loving the thought of riding in short pants again. Right now it's time to grab some grub and then work on my writing for an hour or two. Right now I'm fixated on finishing the glossary for my book. Fixated!

5:05 AM Good morning one and all! For what it's worth, here are my thoughts on New Testament textual criticism. The discipline, it seems to me, has reached the point of stalemate. Is there a way beyond the impasse? I think so!

Tuesday, March 24

7:59 PM Here are 4 ways you and your church can help to meet food needs.

7:44 PM "Begin praying now, and then pray regularly, that God will use this situation to turn your church outwardly." Chuck Lawless.

6:52 PM I am a teacher. For me, that's like saying "I am a man" or "I was born in Hawai'i." I didn't sit down one day and decide to have an insane desire to teach. I just do it, like you just do your work. It's what we were made for. Picture God as a master jeweler. You're the priceless diamond in the rough that He is cutting, fitting, shaping, grinding, and polishing until each and every facet of your life reflects His genius and artistry. God doesn't ignore our natural inclinations or desires. He was the one who created them. Gross feelings of inadequacy will develop if we're not careful to ascribe our calling to Him. I didn't choose to be a Greek teacher. He made me one. He made you who you are. "We are God's masterpiece," wrote Paul (Eph. 2:10). "He has created us anew in Christ Jesus so that we can do the great things He planned for us long ago." In other words, God will complete what He has begun in your life.

So here I am, up to my ears in preparing quizzes and grading exams and emailing with students and editing books and rearranging my speaking schedule. In the midst of the chaos (controlled, I promise) there's a peace, a restful rushing, an indescribable joy, the kind of peace and joy Jesus offers to all who heed His call, "Come to Me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest." His rest doesn't come in an ivory tower where you are immune from pandemics and major life changes and challenges of every kind. (Moodle? Aaargh!!!!) It comes when you most need it, in the daily challenge of just being you, being who He made you to be, despite your nagging doubts or sense of inferiority. Me, His workmanship? His masterpiece? Yes me. Yes you. It's when we feel it's all too much that God steps in, rolls up His metaphorical shirtsleeves, and gets to work with His chisel again.

Sit back, my friend, and watch Him work. He is so near. He's the new life that surges into our lives just when we least expect Him to do so. In the midst of coronavirus hell, it's still possible for us to experience life in all its glory -- a state of heaven on earth. Being a Christian in a non-Christian world is a daily struggle. But huge rewards await those who face the struggle with unshakable faith in God. For just around the corner is a bright new world.  

12:50 PM I'm a big fan of training hard days and then easy days. Today was an easy day -- 5K (3.1 miles) at the track. I'll push my body later in the week. I think my current marathon training plan gives me plenty of time to rest between workouts. The one thing I need to do is to make my easy days truly easy. When I do this I find that my cardiovascular system holds up amazingly well. I take my training very seriously, but to every yin there's a yang, ladies and gentlemen. You might call my philosophy "Train hard, recover even harder."

Time for some lunch, then back to work (writing). Then a long nap!

5:12 AM Shout out to my son for setting cedar posts to reinforce the driveway fencing this week. Thank you!

4:30 AM Up at 4:00 this morning with an urge to write! Might seem boring to some, but when you love books as much as I do, writing is just in your blood. But who are we kidding -- I know you love books too. Whenever I get to thinking (uh oh), I usually want to jot down my thoughts, such as they are. But you know this begs the question: what exactly are you writing this morning? Only a glossary for my new book on Greek linguistics. I just started it and I'm already about 90 percent done. You know, what is a velar, or a stative verb. Please tell me you could use a glossary for terms like these! Later on I'll get in either a run or a bike now that the rain has gone. Why don't you join me? Vicariously of course.

What are you doing today?

Write about it and share it with your friends!

Monday, March 23

8:10 AM I just completed, I know it's kinda crazy, but I just completed what is probably the highest volume of training in my life over the course of a single week.

And yes, I can officially say that my body is tired, and hence I'm taking today completely off from any kind of activity whatsoever except for walking the dog on the farm. Recently the New York Times published an article called "Jogging Was Made for Social Distancing." No, this is not the time for group runs or for racing in a group. But it's the perfect time to engage in what is called "lone wolf" running. Yes indeed, even during this time of coronavirus, folks, we can run as much as we like! We can train as much as we like! Unless you're feeling ill, there's no need to cut back on your training. Also, transient interactions with the public are hardly likely to occur. When you're running past somebody going the other way, just stay 6 feet apart. If you take the right precautions, you will be protecting not only yourself but the community. And just think of the benefits that come from getting outdoors and doing some exercise. Running (or walking) not only helps to relieve stress, it improves your overall cardiovascular health. And thus far, running hasn't been discouraged by the authorities. I think that's because they realize you can run and still be in full compliance with the CDC's recommendations.

Have I convinced you yet? Get outdoors, my friends! There's no better time to hit the trails, because they are practically empty!

7:20 AM Been reading The Climb in the evenings.

May 10, 1996, is the date of the worst tragedy in Mount Everest history. Many of you have seen the movie about it. This book is one of the best written and most objective. It's written by one of Scott Fischer's team members. The crux of the story has much to do with the way all of us make decisions in everyday life. It's the story of unwise risk-taking. It's the story of overly-ambitious leadership. It's the story of how making poor decisions almost always leads to disaster. This is the age of the crowd. We go along to get along. True, there's often safety in numbers. But there are times when we have to say no to the status quo. On that fateful day, except for a few, most of the climbers succumbed to "summit fever" knowing full well they should have turned around. Today, God wants out of the closet. He wants to affect every decision we make in life. He wants us to realize there's a difference between a Sunday school faith and a gutsy belief that is more than superficial. This book is teaching me a lot about that!

7:05 AM The grandkids are sewing masks for the local hospital. They are using Mama B's (Becky's) sewing machine at that. How cool is that? 

Proud of you kiddos! 

Sunday, March 22

11:22 AM Where are you worshipping today? If you need a suggestion, why not try the Creator's cathedral? Yes, worship is normally only thought of as services in which Christians gather as a group. But, as Jesus taught, Christians can worship God in any place and at any time. In fact, I'd say worship is basically 24/7 -- our reasonable act of worship as we lay our lives on the altar of daily service to Christ. When my mind turns to creation, my heart turns toward God. It was on this trail today that I sang Latin hymns ("O Magnum Mysterium!") and listened to my favorite Christian speakers as I got in a 5 mile run.

I once wrote an essay called Enjoying Nature Without Worshiping It. I still believe that's true. There's never been a better time to get outdoors, get regular physical activity, and get some much-needed natural vitamin D. There are so many things to be thankful for. I am thankful for the ability to walk and to run. I am thankful for the life journey I'm on, my relationships, my health, and my job. I am thankful for who God made me to be and that I never have to compare myself with others who are stronger, wealthier, handsomer, faster, or more intelligent than I am. I am thankful for a phone that allows me to stay in touch with friends and family. I am thankful that I've learned to be adaptable and to accept how life is unfolding for me right now. I am thankful for hot coffee, sunrises and sunsets, the farm animals, hot showers, online recipes, the kindness of strangers, warmer weather, a good book to read. This time in our lives is all about unity, togetherness, and gratitude. When it comes right down to it, none of us is ever just thankful for the material possessions in our lives. It's always the people in our lives that matter the most. Despite the coronavirus, I hope we can all build some good memories during this time of "physical distancing" and give God the thanks He's due for His goodness and faithfulness.   

Happy Sunday!

Saturday, March 21

7:02 PM Watching a sermon in German (the topic was the coronavirus as a spiritual issue) got me to thinking about what Mark Twain once called "The Awful German Language." It reminded me of why I love the German language so much. I always get a kick out of the use of "thing" in German: Drive thing, fly thing, play thing, sport thing, punch thing. So shouldn't a boat be a swim thing and a submarine a dive thing? And who could ever improve on "Weltschmerz," "Schadenfreude," and "Zeitgeist"? In today's coronavirus world, "Hilfsbereit" makes a lot of sense. And I just have to ask: If you can have "Heimweh" (home-sickness), why can't you have "Fernweh"? Then there's that magical word "doch." Try saying that in English using only one word. "I didn't hit him." "Doch!" ("Yes, you did!"). Germans love interjections like that. I once had a friend in Switzerland who loved to hog the conversation when we spoke on the phone. All I could get in was, "Hmm, hmm, ja, naja, hmm, hmm, na gut, was?, ja, ach so, noch was?, na denn, tschüss!"

I leave you with this. Said a German to his waiter at a seafood restaurant in the U.S.: "I am here since an hour. When do I become a fish?" If you laughed, you know German!

12:35 PM Anybody else getting outdoors daily during our period of self-isolation? Got in 5 miles today at the track on a cool and rainy morning.

But exercising means nothing without eating right. And, of course, there's no one "right" diet that will help you lose weight. Diets, in fact, don't work. Stop dieting! If they worked, everyone would be healthy. Carbs aren't evil. Fats aren't evil. Proteins aren't evil. I'm trying a more common sense approach to keeping the pounds off:

  • Eat whole foods.

  • Cut out the junk.

  • Move your body every day.

Folks, the quality of our food is far more important than the number of calories we consume. I am constantly trying to make sure I am fueling correctly. For example, after my run today I made myself a grilled cheese sandwich and a bowl of chicken soup. And here are the snacks I'll consume this week.

I tell you, these days I'm hungry all the time, so I had better watch what I put into my mouth. There's nothing magical about health. Eat quality foods. Eat consciously. Fuel your body wisely. If you're exercising regularly (and if you're not, you should be) make sure you're getting enough calories, but also make sure those calories are of the highest possible quality. I'm a believer in the exercise regularly and eat wisely philosophy. I'm not bashing anybody who's struggled with their weight. I have too. I still do. I just believe good health is a lifestyle. I am not a "thin" person naturally. So what? It's important for everyone to remember that theirs is the best body! Each of us has a limit as to how good we can look and feel. But each of us can also have the joy of knowing we're doing the best we possibly can with the hand we've been dealt. Healthy eating is a constant battle, and for many of us it will never come naturally, but viewing our bodies as a temple can help us make smarter choices on a regular basis. 

I love to run and I love to eat. A marriage made in heaven!

6:55 AM The latest on my racing schedule for 2020:

  • 5k on the Runway (Lynchburg, VA), April 18 = postponed to 2021.

  • Marine Corps Half Marathon (Fredericksburg, VA), May 17 = still on for now.

  • Jackson River Scenic Marathon (Covington, VA), June 27 = still on for now.

  • Rex Wellness Triathlon (Garner, NC), July 12) = still on for now.

  • Virginia 10-Miler (Lynchburg), Sept. 26 = still on for now.

My guess is that some of these events will be cancelled or postponed to next year.

My first love is racing, and when you love something you want to do it all the time. It's way easier to train when you have a particular race to train for. Preparation is everything. I once heard someone say, "It's better to be prepared and not called than to be called and not prepared." There is something very pure and simple about training for a race or any goal for that matter. If you're pursuing your doctorate, focus on that. If you're trying to complete your master's degree, focus on that. If you're writing your first book, focus on that. Focus feeds the soul. To be honest, I will miss racing. But training is just as important. We do this for fun, supposedly. Last night I made a conscious effort to step away from my training and focus more on the present -- cooking a healthy supper, walking the dog, feeding the donks a carrot, reading a good book. Motivated or not, I am choosing to be positive!

Have you ever experienced postponed goals? How did you deal with it?

Friday, March 20

2:04 PM My bike today.

A mere 26.2 miles. I say "mere" because an elite marathoner can complete that distance in less time by running it than I can do it while biking. Anyway, time to get outside and enjoy the 81 degrees temp.

8:15 AM My Bible time this morning was in Matthew 11 and Jesus' invitation to come to Him and replace the burden of our sin and guilt with His yoke of peace, freedom, and service. Jesus is a wonderful burden-bearer. But He is also a wonderful teacher, and we have much to learn from Him about meekness and gentleness. We could use a lot of plain old-fashioned kindness in this world today. Alas, too many today, even among church leaders, enjoy moving mountains but never learn how to be kind. Sometimes I have found kindness where I least expected it, and often the world shames the church in this regard. But Jesus shows us that a truly great soul is kind. Here is a grace that will work wherever we are. It is a virtue we can practice anywhere and everywhere. The truly great, Jesus shows us, don't always sit in the highest places, but even when they do they grace it with kindness and meekness.

There is nothing weak or effeminate about kindness. Jesus proves that.

Thursday, March 19

7:25 PM I don't know how to start so I'm just going to start. "New normal." That's what life is for all of us these days. For example, today I would have taken a flight to Dallas to attend the ETS regional conference at Dallas Seminary and to see my mom and dad. Yesterday I would have spoken in a chapel service at a local Christian high school in Raleigh. Next weekend I was going to be speaking at a missions conference in western North Carolina. In May I had a speaking engagement at Princeton University. My list goes on and on. So does yours. It doesn't even have to be the big stuff like public speaking or teaching classes. And honestly, things aren't as scary as wetting-your-pants scary, but they're scary just the same. The point is that we are experiencing the same life we've always lived, just in new and different ways. And for many of us it involves stepping out of our comfort zone. I had a full day today, but it was nothing like I would have planned for even a week ago. Funny how avoiding contact with people becomes your new routine. What I've learned through the years is that it's really hard to make new habits and to break old ones. And yet it can be done. Example: Years ago we went from not using seat belts to using them unconsciously every time we get into a car. Someone famous once said (or maybe somebody completely unknown made this up) that it takes 21 days to form a new habit. That sounds easy. But in reality, it's not.

So today I've been thinking to myself: Davey old boy, are there any bad habits you need to break and any good habits you need to start? I mean, life is all about "buying up the time," right? Today I actually allowed a thought to surface in my consciousness that a week ago I would have thought absurd. I'm actually thinking about planting a garden this year. Believe it or not, Becky used to grow our own vegetables. And she was good at it. But she also had a giant green thumb. If I started gardening, I'd really need some help because I wouldn't have the foggiest idea of what to do. Of course, that's what YouTube is for. I think I'll start by focusing on one small garden bed. My son suggests I grow yellow squash. I suppose that's because it's a plant that can more or less look out for itself without a lot of pampering. While they are growing, maybe I could go ahead and clean out another garden bed or two. Who knows?

I do know this: Change is always difficult, even when the changes we're making are for good, healthy reasons. When it gets hard (and it will), you can't just throw in the towel. No, you take a deep breath and move forward. It will be three steps forward and two steps back. The journey will be up and down. A bit like life, wouldn't ya say?

If we are going to make lifestyle changes during this period of social time out, it's probably a good idea that this transition involve only one or two things, not two dozen. Think "simple." Simple works. Complex only creates headaches. I should know.

How are you coping with the new normal in your life?

What's a bad habit you want to break?

What's a good habit you want to start?

P.S. My dinner tonight. Looks like it could use some yellow squash, don't you think? 

12:36 PM Okay, Fudge (my teenage goat), here's the deal. You will get your head stuck in the fence every time you try to clip the grass on the other side.

Each and every time. And yes, I will bail you out every time, but maybe we could learn from our experience? Just saying'.

12:30 PM I drove home only to find the donks out sunbathing. Hmm, can I join you? 

12:25 PM Today's run:

I did only 3 miles as my plan for tomorrow calls for a 26.2 mile bike and I wanted to save my legs for that. Notice the social distancing I'm doing? Yes, I am very serious about that. How serious? I passed up a visit from my grandkids this weekend. Yes, that serious. 

12:18 PM Almost halfway done with editing my new book.

I tell you, the editorial staff at Baker Academic did a great job with their run through, as usual. This is my 7th book with Baker and it never ceases to amaze me just how wonderful their team is. 

6:20 AM Can you imagine living in Thessalonica and getting a letter from the apostle Paul? They literally held his words in their hands. They saw his thoughts, and the images formed into words. They heard the sounds of his voice (he had been with them for about 6 months). The cadence. The rhythm. The intonation. The accent (if he had one). Perhaps they could even see Paul thinking the words while he was writing them. They must have read his letter slowly, word by word, knowing almost exactly the next word to follow. But most importantly, as they looked at the words on paper, they could hear the word of God. And they could look at the words again the next day and any day after, just to silently hear his/His voice again.

Wednesday, March 18

1:28 PM Wow, what a nice day for a bike. Never seen the bike path so empty though.

Please take care everyone and do try and get outdoors if you can (before we are not allowed to do so -- it could happen!). We can all continue to strive to reach our exercise goals even if we have to work out alone. Today I did an easy 10 miler in cool and windy conditions.

I told myself I was having a worship service. It was an hour well spent and that is for sure, all the while listening to great sacred music like Elgar's Lux Aeterna -- oh my!  As I get older, I find myself leaving behind music that merely excites or inspires me musically. Instead I yearn after music that lifts my soul to heaven and brings joy and peace to my heart. Classical music always seems to do that. When I listen to Morton or Rutter or Elgar or Lauridsen I think, "This is what heaven will sound like. This is how the angels sing." Their music touches something deeply unexplainable in me, as if something lost has finally been found and you're lost in wonderment. By God's grace, I am a musician. I talk to Him daily through music, and many have been the times I've simply been overwhelmed by the genius of a musical score. How reverent ... how peaceful ... how beautiful! Praise God that this music has graced my present life.

Thanks for reading. Make whatever you do today a ritual of worship to our Creator!

5:30 AM It's that point in the semester where we're all feeling a bit overwhelmed, not only by the coronavirus but by all the assignments that are coming due. Being a student is a lot like running a marathon. When the semester starts you feel ready. The world is at your fingertips. You can chase down lions. Then it starts getting hard. You're still feeling OK, but you're becoming fatigued. People are starting to slow down, even walk. By mile 20 it's "What in the world am I doing?" Just put one foot in front of the other. Don't stop moving because if you do you might not be able to start again. You can't see the finish line yet, but you know it's there. You're finally DONE! You've taken a beating, but it was worth every step.

Isn't it true that one of the greatest feelings in the world is working towards a goal, giving it your all, experiencing the pain of the journey, and then reaching your goal? That's it. Simple. Basic. Good.

Run your race with joy today, my friend.

Tuesday, March 17

7:50 PM Hello, spring!

7:34 PM Been sitting on the porch this evening enjoying a book you've probably never heard of but it was a hugely important book in my life.

Eugene Goetchius wrote his beginning Greek grammar back in 1965. I acquired a copy of it while I was taking Greek at Biola in the 70s. It was the first book I had seen that tried to incorporate linguistic insights into the study of the Greek of the New Testament. Perhaps as a result, I began to develop an interest in that subject. I probably read through it 5 times. Years ago I lost my copy, but its replacement arrived yesterday via USPS. Greek is in my blood, no doubt, and it was books like this one by Goetchius that paved the way. I always have been, and always will be, grateful.

4:38 PM I won't lie: I love the classroom. Been doing this for 44 years. I also love diving into macro-issues in class with my brilliant students. The classroom has connected me, reconnected me, and (now) disconnected me. For the rest of the semester (about 8 weeks) everything's going online. I've quickly become the prof who went cyber, as we all have. What a blessing that we have things like Moodle. The good work goes on, though the delivery system is different. Learning knows no boundaries, ladies and gentlemen, and when we all start believing "We can do this!" guess what? We can.

Let's show up, folks. Let's be there for each other during this crazy time in our lives. Let's write a good story for our children to remember when they grow up. We'll stumble, of course. That's par for the course. But we'll leave nobody behind, we'll leave no stone unturned, we'll work together for the greater good. We are acting responsibly for our global brothers and sisters because that's WJWD. I want to be forever for you, and you for me. Let's open our hands and our hearts. Let's point each other to God. Let's continue to pursue short- and long-term goals, measurable outcomes, and educated Jesus-followers.

It is noble, necessary work.

6:10 AM Up early this morning about to head off to campus and work on my online classes. This is a stressful and trying time for all of us -- many challenges ahead and many miles to go before we sleep. We're all in this together now -- support, patience, and compassion is what we all need to show. A sense of togetherness even though we are forced apart temporarily. My heart goes out to all those who are affected financially by the pandemic. The knowledge that God is in control is what keeps our heads up through this turbulent and uncertain time. Just when it seems there is nothing we can hold on tightly to, we remember the One who has been holding us together all along.

Stay safe everyone and check on your neighbors/family/friends. God bless you all. 

Monday, March 16

7:56 PM Beautiful reminder.

7:44 PM Our first redbuds of the year -- tiny clusters of magenta putting on their annual show, giving their Maker a round of applause. 

5:22 PM In the Great Commission, Jesus promised to be with us, not "always," but literally "all the days."

  • German: Alle Tage.

  • French: Tous les jours.

  • Spanish: Todos los días.

  • Latin: Omnibus diebus. (More here.)

In English we might say, "Each and every day." During these difficult times, Jesus is with us "day after day after day." He is schooling us in trust every single day. He is renewing His mercies every single morning. He is replacing fear with faith Monday through Friday. Why? He simply wants us to experience the "riches of His glory" that He has planned for us from the beginning of time (Rom. 9:23). He follows behind. He goes before. God has a plan for our life during this crisis. And He's willing to both guide and protect us toward that destination.

10:40 AM Let's see ... wormed the donks and goats ... prepped the garden beds ... filled in the winter ruts ... started to repair the driveway fencing. Sorry I can't take better photos.

Love caring for God's green earth!

5:55 AM Up early and looking forward to a full day. I've postponed my trip to Hawai'i this summer, cancelling my flights with United. I'll miss the beach and seeing old friends. It's still hard to believe that my sleepy little hometown of Kailua has become home to trendy coffee shops and restaurants like Morning Brew, where I bought this cup last year.

Kailua is a place where progressive residents and local entrepreneurs get along just fine. But the beach, ah, the beach. THIS is why you come to Hawai'i. This is my view every morning.

From here you can kayak to Flat Island or hike to the Lanikai Pillbox or catch a few waves before eating at Cinnamon's (a Kailua institution). I was hoping to begin another Greek class in August but that's for later. Nostalgia is the best part of our past plus our dreams for the future. Teaching Greek to my fellow natives has fulfilled my lifetime goal of returning something to the land that reared me. I know that living in the past is unhealthy. The clock only runs one way. But is it wrong to revel in memories? There's a lot of good, God things going on the islands right now, and I want to be a small part of it. I think nostalgia is fine unless it makes us ineffective in the present.

Kailua is one of the most beautiful towns in Hawai'i. And for me, it's still as magical as it's ever been.

Sunday, March 15

8:18 PM No more Greek classes at Clearview Church but you have several options to continue your studies. One of them is a series I did years ago for Bible Review magazine called "Greek for Bible Readers."

It's available in the BAS Library. There are also several YouTubes published by Greek teachers who use my grammar as well my own set of DVDs recorded before a live audience in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. For these, go here. Don't forget, you're not the only one who has a lot riding on whether or not you persist in your Greek studies. God has a lot at stake in the outcome too. He's on your side, rooting for you to succeed.

5:26 PM Did a 5 mile walk today while listening to a sermon by John Stott. Great message as always. Stott was a legend. I'm a big fan of his sermons. Just honest and sincere -- and deeply biblical. Glad to be part of a community that has teachers like him. His message was a voice of calm in this storm swirling around us. A breath of fresh air.

8:24 AM Saw these shoes for runners.

They have both men and women's versions. The idea is to hide their ugly black toenails. I do have ugly feet but these would just call attention to my ugly legs, so what's the use? 

7:55 AM Cautious, but carrying on. That's my motto these days. Hard moments for everybody no doubt. But a lot of good things, too. Got to hand it to American Airlines for stepping up to the plate. I was able to cancel my flight to Dallas this Thursday without a hitch. They're even going to let me rebook my flight anytime between now and Dec. 31, 2020 without a change fee. Thank you, AA! Fighting together, we're going to overcome our fears, ladies and gentlemen. Panic is a bigger enemy than the threat. This too shall pass. It's time to embrace our community and make the best of a difficult situation. Americans have always been good at doing this. Thankfully in crazy times we have the Lord and we have each other. Stay informed and practice the same good hygiene you would for the more dangerous types of regular flu. Enjoy nature even more. Spend time with the Lord. Being alone is an opportunity -- to listen to yourself and to God, to get your bearings again, and to draw near to the Lord. Remember, too, that when Jesus ascended to heaven He didn't vacate Planet Earth. No, He left His followers behind, filled them with His Spirit, and then asked them to serve for Him, love for Him, speak for Him. If we are successful as Christians during this time of crisis, people around us will recognize Jesus and will want to know Him. Now, as then, we are His body, we are His hands, we are His heart. Let's act that way.

Love you guys!

Saturday, March 14

6:14 PM Music from my favorite scene in the movie 1917. It's got to be one of the most moving compositions in the history of cinema. Speakers up.


5:48 PM It's so nice to be able to get out and about. The rain is on its way so I like to take advantage of every minute I can be out in creation. There are 4 goals I usually try to accomplish on the weekends: rest, relaxation, refreshment, and recharging. Much of this comes by being active. The setting of a farm fairly begs relaxation. Not only does it keep you active, there's so much to see and look at. I'm always amazed at the beautiful birds that are building their nests on my porches. Lots of pics. Lots of fun. Lots of moving. (And lots of sleep at night.)

During this time of anxiety about the coronavirus, it's important to keep in mind that the best way to ward off illness of any kind is staying stress-free so that our immune system isn't compromised. Focus on those things that are within the sphere of your control. That's one reason I love running. For me, running helps me to step back, refocus, and come back to center. Running is such a wonderful, filled-to-the-BRIM kind of activity. No pace. No time. No cares.

Today's run was glorious. It was such a parable of life: We move forward, but slowly. Day by day. Even during a pandemic. Remember: This year ain't done yet. This is really just another life challenge. We'll make it through, hopefully stronger in the end. These uncertain times just bring us closer together.

Take care all.

12:44 PM Enjoying the Great Outdoors today. Here's my 5-mile run.

Afterwards I sprayed Roundup along the fences.

That's right -- be mowing again in no time! Right now I'm washing a load of clothes and sweeping the house. Hope to get in a bike either today or tomorrow.

Next up: Final edits on this book.

7:58 AM So thankful for the Timothies in my life. Timothy had accompanied Paul and Silas to Thessalonica. He is mentioned in 1 Thessalonians as being a valued member of the missionary team. And yet Timothy had disadvantages and even disabilities that are often found in God's choicest servants today. He was young (and inexperienced). He was an anxious type. And he was physically frail. "Years, fears, and tears," someone has said. But these very qualities endear him to us. To my students: I pray today that you may know God's grace in your life and ministry. Do not neglect either doctrine or ethics. Do not let your age or inexperience slow you down. As you pursue godliness, pursue also gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith. Lay hold of eternal life. And let each day become a glad surrender.

Today I'm off to the post office, three different banks, the farm supply store, and to the trail for a run. A big approach to my marathon training is consistency!

Friday, March 13

6:24 PM So good to see my puppy again after several days.

5:26 PM This was my last day of classroom teaching for the semester. The rest of the school year will be taught online. I've also cancelled all of my speaking engagements and road races through the end of April. Here in Virginia, mass gatherings are being cancelled as well as the schools. It's out of our control but not God's. How do I feel? Fine. It's the only responsible course of action. Let's just hope the virus abates. In the meantime, a cheer for spring training and beautiful summer race weather. Folks, we are all in the same boat. We'll get past this and it'll be onward and upward again in a few months I do hope and pray. Times like these call for all of us to come together to fight this. If we are all respectful of the situation and take proper action without waiting for things to get worse, we have the best chance of treating those with the virus and ultimately defeating it altogether.

One thing is for sure. We at Southeastern have the best Distance Learning Office in the world bar none. A thousand thanks to Jerry and Lydia for helping me get my courses set up to go online. This is the time when we all have to act for the greater good. But I will sorely miss being in the classroom. I'll also miss my June marathon if it's cancelled but running is still just a hobby for most of us and there are bigger things in life. I'll keep on training for my next marathon -- wherever that will be -- and enjoying runs like the 6 miler I had on Wednesday on this greenway in Wake Forest.

Stay safe and stay healthy my friends!

Sunday, March 8

9:14 AM Excited to teach another Greek class at Clearview Church tonight. These folks are crushing it. The topic? Adjectives. That's right, folks, what we would do without adjectives in our lives?

In 1 Tim. 3:2-3, Paul uses 11 adjectives to describe the one who would be an elder! One of them is the Greek word didaktikon, which can be translated one of two ways ("able to teach" or "teachable"). Tonight I'll explain why I think "teachable" works best in this context. We will also talk about various synonyms that occur in the Greek New Testament -- for example, the difference between allos and heteros, or agathos and kalos. Is Jesus described in John 10 as the "good" shepherd or as the "good-looking" shepherd? Come tonight and find out! And then there are those pesky comparative and superlative adjectives, as in "greater" and "greatest." Imagine what the Ephesians must have thought when they encountered Paul's elachistateros (Eph. 3:8). They knew that elachistos meant "least," but Paul, wanting to emphasize his personal unworthiness, slapped a comparative ending on this superlative adjective. He's not just the "least of all the saints," he's the leaster!

If you have read this brief blog post carefully, you are a diligent and responsible reader (and possibly tall, dark, and handsome). At least you are able to better understand how those fascinating words called adjectives work -- and play.

8:40 AM My prayer for the church today: "May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Rom. 15:5-6). If, despite all of the controversies that surround us today in the church, we would genuinely seek unity, we would be much more attractive to a non-Christian world. 

Saturday, March 7

5:38 PM Students of 1 Thessalonians: Here's my overview of the book.

5:24 PM God can use our "chains" for His glory and for the expansion of His kingdom (Phil. 1:12-13). God often grants His servants their greatest successes in their weakest moments.

5:15 PM I need not suspect the motives of others (Phil. 1:15-18). "The Gospel is being preached, and in this I rejoice!"

5:12 PM Do not be afraid (Phil. 1:28). Let us render no excitement over the passing trials that stir this poor jittery world into a frenzy. 

1:04 PM Easy 10 mile workout today and it resulted in some good slow heart-rate marathon training.

We just keep breathing and moving forward one day at a time in this world.

7:50 AM Thank you, dear toenail, for the wonderful service you gave me this past year. Now be ye consigned to the deepest, darkest confines of my garbage can forever and forever.


7:46 AM When Paul says "The only thing that matters" (Phil. 1:27), he means it. Is the Gospel the one passion of our lives?

7:44 AM Each of our loving relationships -- as spouses, parents, children, brothers and sisters in Christ -- requires constant care and growth (Phil. 1:9).

7:40 AM The love we have for one another is not our love at all but "the deep compassion that comes from Christ Jesus Himself" (Phil. 1:8).

7:37 AM Missions is the work of God in and among us (Phil. 1:6).

7:34 AM Nothing should make us more grateful than when believers partner together in the work of the Gospel (Phil. 1:5).

7:32 AM Leaders are extensions of the church, not over it (Phil. 1:1). "Overseers and deacons" are not proud titles but descriptions of functions: "Those who oversee and serve."

7:30 AM Spent time in Philippians 1 this AM. I needed these familiar words today. I'll be posting a few takeaways here.

7:24 AM I'm monitoring the corona virus carefully, as you are. Just trying to be wise. The data suggest that people over 70 have a higher susceptibility to the virus, especially those with preexisting conditions. I'm maybe 50/50 about flying to Dallas in 2 weeks. It's not the recirculated air I'm concerned about. That air's pretty clean because of the HEPA filters. It's the idea of being strapped in a seat next to someone who's been potentially infected. "It's best to be cautious" says the CDC. I do note that a major tech and film conference in Austin has been cancelled because of the corona virus outbreak. Methinks more cancelations are on the way. May God have mercy on all those afflicted.

I am, incidentally, zero interested in "hunches" about the virus. Just the facts, please, just the facts.

Friday, March 6

7:22 PM Tell you what's missing from the church. Jesus. Is it any wonder we're in the shape we're in? The church, more than anything, is the living presence of Jesus in the world. It is a contradiction to pray for healthier churches but to fail to walk daily in the presence, purpose, and power of the Savior.

7:16 PM Heard this?

Greek is a language, at least it used to be. It killed off all my friends, and now it's killing me. All are dead who ever spoke it, all are dead who ever wrote it, all are dead who ever learned it, blessed death, they surely earned it!

We cannot deceive ourselves into thinking that studying New Testament Greek is for our happiness. As enjoyable as the study of foreign languages may be, it is important to remember that God hasn't ordained our lives to be comfortable but to be transformative. Greek can be a big part of that transformation, if we let it. 

5:34 PM Hello there again, kitchen stove.

5:30 PM This is just so very farmy to me.

1:16 PM In a single day a forestry crew planted 79 of my acres in pine seedlings. That's right, a few thousand of these little guys will one day -- say, in 25 years -- reap a harvest of pine trees.

I like what the apostle Paul said about farming: "I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it. But it was God who made it grow. It's not important who does the planting or who does the watering. The one who plants and the one who waters work together for the same purpose. And both will be rewarded for their own hard work." In other words, the judgment seat of Christ isn't something we can plan for at the last minute. Let's "work, for the night is coming!"

1:10 PM Seen on my 5 mile run today. Lovely.

12:55 PM Do you have a love-hate relationship with social media? So does Paul Tripp. In this YouTube he makes four points:

1) Not all social media sites have the same moral authority. Reader beware! 

2) Be careful what you expose your heart to. The darker parts of the moral world are right there in front of our eyes.

3) There is so much unwholesome, ungodly, unhelpful, disrespectful communication in social media today. We should always speak in an other-centered, wholesome way when we use social media.

4) Beware of becoming poor stewards of our lives by wasting our precious time on unwholesome social media outlets. 

I love social media. I started this blog in 2003. I was tweeting before Twitter. My theme verse as a blogger has always been 1 Cor. 14:3: "But the one who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening, encouraging, and comfort." I make no claim to be a prophet, but I try to do at least one of these three things before I hit the send button when I publish a blog post. The amazing thing is that it's within our power to decide whether we will use social media for good or for evil. With a snub we can create terror; with charity we can work miracles. Communication is a power that's best left in the hands of God. But He has entrusted it to us as His representatives. When I read Twitter I sometimes feel like the witness of a murder, the murder weapon being the tongue. That ought not to be, my brothers and sisters.

9:00 AM Are you feeding on Jesus today? Don't wait for the Sunday sermon to be in God's word. His banquet table awaits you this very day.

8:42 AM A word to my Greek students in my 1 Thessalonians class: We read Scripture not just for information but for transformation. What areas of our lives are we asking God to change? Let me share with you two convictions as we begin our study of 1 Thessalonians on Monday. First, we must come to this book humbly. A Greek classroom is a dangerous place for any child of Adam. Our studies can easily degenerate into self-serving hubris. Pride is a soil in which godliness does not easily grow. Secondly, we must come to our study obediently. It's not enough to sing "Jesus, I love you." No, those who know the Bible know that the true test of love is obedience, and the reward of love is the self-manifestation of Christ. May He, then, be pleased to reveal Himself to us individually and to our class as a whole as we approach our course of study humbly and obediently.

8:18 AM In a couple of weeks I'll be showing a Power Point at Dallas Seminary on Rom. 12:9-21, one of two "love passages" in Paul's writings (the other, of course, being 1 Cor. 13).

Here Paul defines for us what genuine, Christ-like love is. Today I want to give you the 29 ways Paul says we can express this kind of love. 

1) Genuine, Christ-like love is authentic. When we show love to people, we don't just pretend to love them.

2) Genuine, Christ-like love actively fights against the sin in our lives.

3) Genuine, Christ-like love holds on tightly to what is good.

4) Genuine, Christ-like love recognizes that since we are all part of the same spiritual family, we must love one another affectionately.

5) Genuine, Christ-like love takes delight in honoring one another above ourselves.

6) Genuine, Christ-like love is never lazy or slothful.

7) Genuine, Christ-like love relies completely on the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit of God.

8) Genuine, Christ-like love always strives to serve the Lord obediently.

9) Genuine, Christ-like love faces the future joyfully.

10) Genuine, Christ-like love endures patiently when it experiences trouble.

11) Genuine, Christ-like love always expects God to answer prayer.

12) Genuine, Christ-like love is always ready to help God's people when they are in need.

13) Genuine, Christ-like love welcomes complete strangers when they need a place to stay overnight.

14) Genuine, Christ-like love makes us willing to ask God to bless people who are persecuting us and causing us to suffer.

15) Genuine, Christ-like love never asks God to make something bad happen to them.

16) Genuine, Christ-like love always rejoices with people who are rejoicing.

17) Genuine, Christ-like love always weeps with people who are weeping.

18) Genuine, Christ-like love seeks to live in harmony with others.

19) Genuine, Christ-like love causes us to never think we're more important than others.

20) Genuine, Christ-like love makes us willing to associate with humble people and do humble tasks.

21) Genuine, Christ-like love never allows us to think we're smarter than others.

22) Genuine, Christ-like love motivates us to refuse to pay people back with more evil when they do something evil to us.

23) Genuine, Christ-like love always does what it right in the eyes of others.

24) Genuine, Christ-like love is a commitment to doing everything possible on our part to live in peace with everyone.

25) Genuine, Christ-like love means actively fighting against the urge to take revenge into our own hands when people mistreat us, leaving that instead to the righteous anger of God.

26) Genuine, Christ-like love is being willing to give our enemies something to eat when they're hungry and something to drink when they're thirsty.

27) Genuine, Christ-like love gives us hope that when we treat our enemies with kindness and forgiveness, God will make them burn with shame and maybe even help them change their attitudes and actions.

28) Genuine, Christ-like love is never overcome by evil.

29) Genuine, Christ-like love overcomes evil with good.

God bless,


Thursday, March 5

6:56 PM Nice to see the NEB's rendering of ekklēsia as "congregation" in 1 Thess. 1:1. They could have also used "community."

8:22 AM Molly Seidel. Ever heard of her? Neither had I. Until last Saturday when she came in second in the Olympic Marathon Trials in Atlanta.

This was her first ever marathon. You read that right. First ever! Her second ever marathon will take place in the 2020 Olympics. Not only that, Molly Seidel overcame OCD and an eating disorder to get to where she is today. Hers is a great story as we think about our own lives. We ought to live in anticipation of what could happen tomorrow. Our hearts should be full of optimism because of God's great power that allows us to overcome our weaknesses and keep on striding forward in this race called life. A few people I know have never had to overcome a major obstacle in life. But the vast majority of us, myself included, would have never established a deep and ever deepening relationship with God unless we went through some really hard times. When you're struggling, you need help. You need somebody to be with you, somebody to share your pain, somebody who can understand, not somebody who lives in an ivory tower. This "somebody" sounds an awful lot like Jesus.

Your "impossibility" might be finances or parents who divorced or feelings of inferiority or an old habit or your job or a death in the family. Nothing is too hard for God. That is what matters. He is for us. He is with us. And we are given the choice, day by day, to recognize that or not. "Every day we experience something of the death of Jesus so that we may also know the power of the life of Jesus in these bodies of ours," wrote Paul.

Only Jesus offers us fullness of joy, far beyond the pitiful substitute the world calls happiness.

8:10 AM You know you're a Bible nerd when you see a title like this and think, "Wow, a book about an ancient city in Israel!"

Wednesday, March 4

7:05 PM Get ready because the Ethiopian Restaurant in Raleigh has re-opened under new management and a new name -- Nafkot. Meet the owners.

Check out their Yelp reviews, which are off the charts. Never has Ethiopian food tasted better or service been more gracious.

Felt like I was back in Addis. You really need to try this place, you guys. Practice your finger-eating skills and enjoy some healthy, fresh-made cuisine while you're at it. Meanwhile, I'm finally getting around to reading this book.

I'm requiring it for my Greek 4 class. Rod, you are my hero. The work you put into this tome is amazing. Reading it is like going for thirds in the buffet line. The contents are so delicious you will keep coming back for more. Can't wait for class to start next Monday. We'll be working through RD's book daily.

Tonight I think I'll watch Everest again for the 100th time :)

Monday, March 2

7:12 AM Happy Monday morning dear reader! What are you looking forward to most in March? If you're anything like me, I like to spend the first Monday of every new month planning ahead for the next 4 weeks and trying to wrap my mind around everything the Lord has in store for me. This month looks kinda heavy on speaking engagements. Next week I'm teaching 1 Thessalonians from 8:00 - 5:00 every day during our spring break. The following week I'm speaking in chapel at a local Christian high school. That weekend I'm lecturing at Dallas Seminary. The month will wrap up with a missions conference in Yadkinville, NC. (Not sure where that it is.) I realize this schedule pales in comparison to what many of you are planning for March but, hey, I'm just a Greek prof. The only race I have planned is the Run High Bridge 5K in Farmville on the 14th. So far my March is devoid of any planned lap swimming, but eventually I will have to get back to the pool if I'm going to do another tri this year. I am mostly looking forward to my marathon in June, but I also plan to run another marathon in the fall. Not sure what else I'll add in for this month. I know I'm blessed to have the kind of schedule that allows me to do a variety of fun things every month. When I do get a chance to write, I schedule those times around my teaching and farm work. It's a great fit for my lifestyle.

How do your coordinate your monthly schedule around your family/work responsibilities? Do you work from home? Do you ever back off from an exceptionally heavy schedule or do just plow right ahead?

Have a great March everyone.

Sunday, March 1

9:05 PM Today, as I said, I did some high intensity interval training. What's that you ask? HIIT alternates bursts of anaerobic speed with periods of aerobic recovery. The goal is to keep within a reasonable average heart rate. My "working" heart rate zone is zone 1 or zone 2. So I was glad to see that during my HIIT training today I never really got much above zone 3.

The idea is a very intense workout for a shorter period of time than you normally run. I had a blast needless to say. Whereas my average resting heart rate today was 47 bpm, I was able to keep most of my speed work today under 121 bpm.

Feeling real good about that. Tonight's Greek class at Clearview was the icing on the proverbial cake. Attendance is still very high.

How I thank God for these students. Discipline is the wholehearted yes to the call of God in your life, no matter what that call is. For all of us, I hope that call involves learning how to study the Bible to the very best of our abilities. The Bible is so important. It doesn't always explain everything to our intellectual satisfaction, but it does explain everything necessary for our discipleship as obedient followers of King Jesus.

On deck this week in terms of my marathon training block:

  • Monday: Rest, pick nose, eat Mexican.

  • Tuesday: 5 Mile run.

  • Wednesday: Workout at the Y.

  • Thursday: 5 Mile run.

  • Friday: 10 mile bike.

  • Saturday: 10 mile long run.

  • Total: 30 miles.

Time to read a good book!

1:10 PM Today's run after church.

I had planned on doing a long run today but did a tempo run instead. The day was brisk and I was feeling frisky! It's amazing to watch the stress you put on your legs and feet during running, and scary too. I think doing squats is helping me keep my glutes engaged. Some day I probably need to have a gait analysis done. Thankfully I haven't had an injury in a very long time despite having really flat feet. It's nice to have shoes you can rely on. Thank you, New Balance!

I'm told that running or other forms of exercise can postpone disability by 16 years. This means I won't be using my walker until I'm 85. Can't you just see me!

8:34 AM The word of the day is "comeback." I'm talking about Galen Rupp. A year and a half ago he had major surgery on his heel. His coach was banned on doping charges. He had to drop out of the Chicago Marathon. For months he could hardly get out of bed or walk without pain. The naysayers were sure he was down and out. Finished. Yesterday, however, he proved them wrong. Rupp won the U.S. marathon trials by a whopping 42 seconds. 2:09 is an astonishing time considering how hilly and windy the conditions were. Hoping to see him medal in Japan!

As with Galen Rupp, we all face great obstacles in life. But obstacles and circumstances and even seemingly insurmountable odds mean little to God. He's looking for people who will believe that what's impossible to them is possible to Him. He delights in miracles. He lifts us up when we fall. The Jesus we're studying in our NT class this semester made the blind see. He made the lame walk. A word from Him and the dead were raised.

Opportunity always brings with it opposition. "A great and effectual door is opened for me," wrote Paul, "and there are many adversaries" (1 Cor. 16:9). Along with blessings come dangers. As with the Israelites about to cross into the Promised Land, it is a very grave danger to see only the milk and honey and not take into account the foes we will meet. We are not to blithely ignore their existence, but neither are we to be terrified by them as the ten spies were.

Friend, quit listening to the naysayers and mockers in your life. Don't give up, even when your dreams are routinely dismissed. If it's mediocrity you're after it, there's plenty of it to be had. But if you're after excellence in life, whatever the field is, you're going to have to work at it with all you've got. You must also, from time to time, thumb your nose at all the skeptics around you. "You want to get a Ph.D. and then teach in a seminary? You're crazy! You'll never get a job!" They've been wrong before and they'll be wrong again.

In the words of Jim Elliott, another hero of mine, "Wherever you all, be all there, and live to the hilt whatever you are convinced is the will of God for your life." Mind you: What you are convinced of, not what someone else thinks.

What about it?

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