November 2007 Blog Archives
Friday, November 30
6:27 PM The discussion continues here about the future revision of the United Bible Societies' Greek New Testament. Perhaps the committee will also review the paragraph titles that are found in the current edition. These leave a great deal to be desired in my view. For example, Phil. 1:3-11 consists of two paragraphs (thanksgiving [1:3-8] and prayer [1:9-11]), but the UBSGNT gives a paragraph title only for the entire section ("Paul's Prayer for the Philippians"). Likewise, 1:12-30 is titled "To Me to Live is Christ" when there are at least two major breaks in this section that go unnoticed, the most important being 1:27-30, which introduces the letter's first verb in the imperative mood. And surely we can do better than "Timothy and Epaphroditus" for 2:19-25, which actually is comprised of two paragraphs, each emphasizing a man who lived totally for the sake of the Gospel (one of the great themes of the epistle). In other words, isn't it time the editors took the discourse structure of the writings into account when assigning paragraph or section titles? I myself would be happy make suggestions based on my Novum Testamentum essay. Does anyone know if the committee will be open to such input?
6:02 PM We're getting ready to sit down and enjoy one of my all-time favorite meals of Becky's: Mexican. We're all pretty tired but we're glad we put up about 200 pounds of fresh, grass-fed, hormone-free beef in our freezers today. The weather could not have more perfect for processing a cow. I am especially tickled that we got oodles of lean beef for Chinese food.
Tomorrow it's gutter time, a day to visit our neighbors (especially the elderly) and clean the leaves out of their rain gutters. It's become a fall tradition of ours. Meanwhile I've been grading New Testament papers like crazy but I must say that the ones I've seen so far have been very good, some excellent even. I do have two graders, but one thing they never do for me is grade. It's all a matter of stewardship. By the way, already two papers have received the following grade:
7:49 AM Congratulations to Marc N. for winning the 110 Award in Greek class for the second time in a row. He chose as his award It's Still Greek to Me. He got all 100 points on the exam and also got all 10 extra credit points by correctly translating the following sentence into Greek: "You (s.) have sinned against God because you are an evil tax collector." Want to try your hand at it? Answer tomorrow.
Thursday, November 29
7:46 PM From the "never a dull moment" file: tomorrow we are butchering a cow, tomorrow evening a retreatant arrives for the weekend, on Sunday night we have yet another overnight guest coming, on Monday we butcher a second cow, on Tuesday and Wednesday I'm teaching, then on Friday we welcome a family of 5 to the farm for a weekend retreat. You got it right: Thursday is my day of rest.
7:42 PM And the winner is...Ron Paul.
7:38 PM Tonight's dinner menu: Chinese stir fry made with fresh venison, and jasmine rice. Nice way to end a busy day.
2:27 PM So, what projects will we be working on in 2008? More than can be completed, that’s for sure. The axiom we’ve discovered at Rosewood Farm is this: the amount of projects to be completed increases in proportion to the number of projects already done. Can I get a witness? It seems we always have a backlog of jobs. Our UQ (Uncompletion Quotient) grows and grows. Not that we’ve been static around here. Far from it. Here’s a montage of the major projects we’ve completed since we bought the farm several years ago.
1) The building of Bradford Hall. This project took us almost 3 years. Much of it we hired out. In hindsight, we wish we had done more of it ourselves.
2) The horse barn. Make that "wood storage barn," now that we are horseless. Here Nate keeps the flooring he's salvaged from old houses.
3) We salvaged our "garden house" from a neighbor's farm. We broke it down, moved it, then put it back together again.
4) Our reenacting shed. Here we keep our tentage, etc. Again, a salvaged project. At least we were able to keep the walls intact when we moved it.
5) Our "carriage shed" (i.e., carport). We built this from scratch, using all of our own materials (cedar posts, pine rafters, salvaged tin, etc.).
6) Our wood shed. This is actually the first construction project we started after completing Bradford Hall. Can you tell?
7) Our goat barn, with milking stall. I call it the Pizza Hut. Again, we used salvaged materials (except we did buy new tin for the roof). The upstairs is used for storing old lumber.
8) Equipment shed. We added it to an existing building on the farm. It currently houses one of our two balers plus more of our lumber.
9) This shed was built to hold Nathan's salvaged mantles and doors, many of them ante-bellum gems. He's got quite a variety and has advertised them on Craig's List.
10) All across the farm we put up home-made bird houses.
11) We moved this well-preserved corn crib from a neighboring farm. It came in one piece. You should have seen the heads turn when people saw Nathan pulling it down the road behind his tractor.
12) Our calf shed. We built this to give our young cattle shelter during the winter.
13) And here's our world-famous chicken mansion. It currently houses about 100 layers and fryers. Once again, everything you see was salvaged (tin roof, doors, windows, siding, etc.).
14) The crème de la crème: our new hay barn. We still have to install the upstairs doors. Nathan will keep his haybine here along with our main crop: horse quality square bales.
15) Nathan's farmhouse needed new chimneys. Here's the first one we built. It's two stories high. Nathan just finished painting his new mantle. Ain't she a beaut?
16) And here's what he did in the upstairs bedroom. Barely any of the original brickwork can be seen.
17) This is the oldest building on the farm, dating back to 1790 or so. We added the shed on the right as overflow chicken housing.
18) My favorite addition to the farm. Nathan picked it up who knows where. I have no idea what its purpose is.
We've also fenced in all 123 acres of the farm. Now that was a job.
One cannot help but look back at these projects with a sense of satisfaction. It took Nathan and me many man hours to complete these jobs, but every minute was well spent. Still, there are jobs to be done. I've drawn on my work in academia to help us out. One lesson I’ve learned is this: when I really want to do research or write a book, I somehow find the time and the means to do it. It is clear, by inference, that work projects on the farm get done only when they are prioritized. And therein lies the challenge of farm life. This means that I cannot complain when projects are not accomplished, because the real reason for my UQ is that I lack commitment, or resourcefulness, or both. For example, if Nathan and I want to build another chimney in his old farmhouse (which we do), unity of action and purpose is essential. The trick to accomplishing a project like that is making a multilateral decision to just do it. My guess is that our next project will be building Nathan's chimney, followed by the remodeling of his house. Either way, life on the old farm sure is fun and exciting.
10:13 AM Ethiopia update:
1) A four-year old girl who died in the northern village of Besheno (in the district of Alaba, Ethiopia) was refused burial by the villagers because her family is Christian. The town church in Alaba arranged for a car to pick up the body and the girl has just been buried in town. The church elders in Alaba are requesting prayer for the child's family in the midst of increasing persecution in Besheno. (If you recall, on my first visit to Alaba several years ago I met with the father of an 8-year old girl who was beheaded because her family was Christian. This family was also from Besheno.)
2) A few days ago we made reservations for Becky to return to Ethiopia. She will leave here on January 7 and be gone for 9 weeks. Her primary goal is to assist Aberesh with the birth of her child. Aberesh is the wife of an evangelist in Alaba. She has been pregnant 4 or 5 times; all her babies (except one) were lost at the end of her pregnancy. The one that survived died in infancy from malaria. From her history, Becky’s certain that at least her last 2 babies were lost because of pre-eclampsia (pregnancy-induced high blood pressure). There are only a few hospitals in Ethiopia that can perform C-Sections; none of them is near Alaba. So Becky plans to go well in advance of her due date so that she can care for her and monitor her pregnancy. As Aberesh nears her due date, Becky will take her in a rented car to the capital city of Addis Ababa and continue to watch her. If Aberesh develops trouble, then Becky will be her medical advocate to see that she is aggressively treated. Perhaps the Lord will give us grace and allow Aberesh to have a healthy baby. Please pray for wisdom for Becky and for God to bless her efforts.
3) While in Ethiopia, Becky is hoping to learn Amharic by immersion. She is already studying the 267-character syllabary. I can only admire Becky’s commitment, as I feel I am way too old to add yet another language to my coffer (although Benjamin Franklin learned French at the age of 70 when he became America’s ambassador to France). Language, to a missionary, is at first a barrier, but after study and much work it can become a wonderful bridge to understanding. Becky’s linguistic talents (she learned to speak German in only 3 months when we moved to Basel in 1980) gives promise of quick mastery of at least the basics of Amharic.
4) Many have asked how they can support the work of the Lord in Ethiopia. Becky has just written up our goals for 2008 and I will post them shortly to our website.
9:22 AM The latest addition to our home page is called Blessed Is the Internet (Sort Of).
9:20 AM Congratulations to Mel Winstead, a Ph.D. student of mine and a humble shepherd-teacher, for publishing two book reviews in the latest issue of our journal Faith and Mission. He reviewed The Second Epistle to the Corinthians by Murray Harris and Second Corinthians: Power in Weakness by Kent Hughes.
9:16 AM I’ve just written a reference for a former student of mine who is applying to study in the UK. (Kudos, by the way!) If you too are interested in studying abroad, here’s a very useful list of New Testament lecturers in the UK. Do I have a volunteer who will write up a similar list for continental New Testament scholars?
9:12 AM Why Ron Paul will not be the candidate of the Christian right. (I keep hoping he will, though.)
9:10 AM Here’s another reason to question the Federal Reserve’s status as the fourth branch of government:
Read Fed Up.
9:03 AM North Park University announces an opening in Biblical and Theological Studies.
8:56 AM Tithing is being discussed over at the Wall Street Journal. NB: Near the end of the article a professor at Southeastern Seminary is quoted.
8:52 AM I tend to be very eclectic when it comes to commentary series. What think ye?
8:46 AM The Moltmann interviews continue. (During my orals in Basel many years ago, I was examined on the theology of Jürgen Moltmann.)
8:41 AM Steve Sensenig says you might be misrepresenting God if…. Well done indeed, Steve. (And don’t miss the comments section.)
Wednesday, November 28
5:39 PM Here’s a big shout out to my students who presented their papers today in New Testament class: Dave, Tyrone, Rachael, and Bryan. Their topics were Matthew 5, the miracles of Christ, the supreme commandment, and Augustine’s Harmony of the Gospels. Excellent job all. Next week we’ll hear from Blake (the text of John 7:53-8:11), Wes (the deity of Christ), Bob (judgment in the Gospels), and Paul (the transfiguration in Matthew). Meanwhile, this reminder: the study questions for our final exam in two weeks have been posted to Campus Net.
Tuesday, November 27
4:56 AM The latest addition to our home page is called Ron Paul: Rekindling Liberty.
4:50 AM Lately I've seen a superabundance of students requesting yours truly as their major advisor in our Ph.D. program. I have no idea why. I do know that I've built a reputation, of sorts, for being fairly selective when it comes to choosing doctoral candidates. I follow a simple law: if you want your track team to win the high jump you find one person who can jump seven feet, not seven people who can each jump one foot. I therefore have my own detailed application form for prospective doctoral students, in addition to the one required by the seminary. Every serious student of mine needs to have a solid knowledge of Greek, a good knowledge of Hebrew, a commitment to academic excellence, a willingness to master (and not just master but use!) German, French, and any other modern language deemed necessary, and evidence of ability to research, reason, and write. If you're interested in preserving the status quo, you'll probably want to look elsewhere (e.g., if you are looking into researching the appropriate salary package for a senior pastor). I do enjoy my current doctoral students very much indeed. Each in my view is a champion high jumper already. And I look forward to adding to their number, Lord willing, in the very near future.
Monday, November 26
7:50 PM Being hopelessly scripturient, it's been hard to be away from writing for a whole week. Here's a few pix to bring you up-to-date on our doings in Dallas.
Below: Brad and Betty Lapsley with their eldest daughter (and my beautiful wife) Becky. Becky's parents are in excellent health and spirits. Mrs. Lapsley hosted 35 people at her home for Thanksgiving Dinner.
Becky joined her mom in the choir on Sunday morning at Grace Bible Church. The church moved into its new sanctuary 5 months ago.
Harold Hoehner pleaded with me to teach his Sunday School class. Being the kind-hearted soul I am, I consented. I like Sunday School classes where you can talk for a whole hour.
The Lapsleys have four puppies. Here's my favorite: Miss Bridgette.
We had a great trip. We got reconnected with many of Becky's cousins and their children. And it was a real treat to share about the Lord's work in Ethiopia during the Sunday evening service at Grace.
There's no place like the farm, though.
Monday, November 19
9:31 PM We've just returned from Florida and unpacked our bags, just in time to repack for our flight to Dallas tomorrow. On our drive to the Sunshine State on Thursday we stopped to visit our good friends at Bladen Union Baptist Church near Fayetteville.
Heath and Leann Faircloth introduced us to their new baby Joshua. Here Heath sports an Alaba hat.
Then Becky Lynn brought the church up-to-date on the work of the Lord in Burji, Alaba, and Gondar.
The next morning we drove 12 straight hours to speak at the SIM Retirement Complex in Sebring, FL. Here is the small duplex where we stayed. As soon as my toes touched the soft white sand, my beach bum persona kicked in. I felt just like I was back in balmy Hawaii.
That evening we met with missionaries who had worked in Ethiopia and the Sudan many years ago. One of them had actually been on the same boat when Becky and her family left for Ethiopia in 1954.
On Saturday morning it was time to drive up to Orlando to meet up with the saints of Covenant Community Church, who had given graciously to help support the evangelists in Alaba. Our hosts were Chris Brenyo and his wife Dana Sue, along with their seven precious children.
On Saturday evening Becky shared about Ethiopia, and on Sunday morning I had the privilege of speaking about Jesus' age 12 and 30 transitions and to hear the men of the church expound on Dagg's systematic theology, all followed by a huge Thanksgiving dinner.
Undoubtedly the high point of our trip was meeting Mrs. Cain. The Cains were the first missionaries to work among the Muslims of Alaba, Ethiopia. Their work in Alaba concluded without a single convert from that tribe. Today, nothing is left of their mission compound. Becky and I had no earthly idea that a former missionary to Alaba was alive. When we heard that Mrs. Cain was living in a nursing home near Sebring we made a beeline to see her. When we brought greetings to her from the believers in Alaba, she got a huge smile on her face and said, softly, "Praise the Lord." We had the joy of telling her that today hundreds of former Muslims now worship the true and living God in Alaba. Again and again she whispered, "Praise the Lord." When we asked her if she had a message for the Christians in Alaba, she said, "Keep on." She also had a Bible verse for them: "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me."
When Becky and I had prayed with Mrs. Cain and left her room, we stopped at the front door of the nursing home and spontaneously embraced each other. We began to weep and to weep and to weep. We both felt that we had been standing on holy ground. Here was a 95-year-old saint who had given her entire adult life to praying for the people of Alaba, and in a meeting completely unplanned beforehand we had had the privilege of telling her that her prayers had been answered. If nothing else, that providential encounter would have made the entire 1,693 mile round trip worthwhile.
In Dallas, Becky and I will be visiting with her parents and speaking on Ethiopia at Grace Bible Church, where we were married 31 years ago. I'll also be talking about missions in Harold Hoehner's Sunday School class. Harold is a professor of New Testament at Dallas Seminary. I always look forward to talking to Harold, as he is a Swiss citizen and can actually understand my Swiss German.
Thursday, November 15
11:45 AM You'll never believe this, but I have a cameo appearance in a forthcoming major film production of "The Hound of the Baskervilles" by Nobletin Productions (go here to see a trailer). I play the part of Sir Charles Baskerville, who is struck down with fright at the beginning of the story when he encounters a giant hound. The film's director just sent me a production photo of the movie's biggest ham just after he sees the dastardly doggie. If you have taken your heart medication and are sitting down, you may click here to view it.
I told you you wouldn't believe it.
11:41 AM Ethiopia update (by Becky Lynn):
1) In the past 8 weeks six evangelists have been sent into areas of the far northwest region in Ethiopia. The Lord Jesus, in response to our prayers, has given these men acceptance in the communities. Already, they are holding Bible studies, sharing the Gospel in their friendships, and some have already come to Christ! As we speak of this work in churches here, the Lord Jesus is putting a love for these people in the hearts of many. And these people are stepping up to the plate, following the leading of the Spirit, being faithful in prayer and financial offerings. May our Lord bless these faithful ones! And may He continue to guide, sustain, empower these six evangelists!
2) Several things are happening in Alaba. The leaders are focusing on spiritual growth in the new converts and are helping the rural church leaders to develop strong spiritual leadership of their little flocks. We have helped this effort by funding an on-site rural leadership training, and by providing a mobile cassette tape teaching ministry for the leadership. The spiritual response to both of these has been excellent. Currently the rural leaders are in a distant town for a 6-month Bible Training course; members of the Alaba church are standing guard over the families of these leaders as they are away from home.
3) The government of the Alaba Town is still figuring out the zoning for the property of the Zobechame church. Shortly after we purchased this property, the Town halted all construction and changed the zoning. Please pray for the church leaders as they try to work this out with the Town; pray that God will fill them with wisdom & grace.
4) The town of Besheno is still highly opposed to the Christians in their midst. They will not allow them to meet for worship or build a church building. Currently they are meeting in scattered homes. But God has given them very committed evangelists, and He is blessing them in spite of the difficulties from the people around them. When we asked Tesfaye, one of the church leaders, "What is your strategy for winning others to Christ?", he responded, "We live pure lives, we love others, and we stand ready to answer their questions about the difference they see in our lives." This sounds a lot like the early Christians in the book of Acts! Please continue to pray for them. In the Lord's time, a meeting hall will be built, but until then He continues to build His Church!
5) Those of you on the email prayer chain received an urgent request for David. Formerly "Ahmed," David is the lead evangelist in the Alaba church. Under the Holy Spirit, the church has appointed him to be responsible for organizing and overseeing the spiritual work in the District. On Thursday last week, he became very sick with malaria, typhoid, typhus, and a bacterial infection all at once. I have seen this before; it is not uncommon among the evangelists in Alaba. Their living conditions as they work for the Lord are less than perfect; they are nutritionally challenged; they are overworked, etc. Read the life of Paul in 2 Cor. 6:4-5 and 11:23-29 and you will have a picture of the evangelists in Alaba. In David's situation, not only does he have life's issues, but also the daily pressure of the churches upon him. Prayer for him is urgently needed at this time. The next 2 months will be crucial to his recovery.
6) The Bibles have finally arrived in Ethiopia! So we are sending 823 to the believers in Burji who have completed the memorization of the 9 passages we selected (like 1 Corinthians 13, John 3:1-21, and John 14:1-21). These dear people have been waiting for over a year for their personal Bible! A wonderful surprise is that the price for these Bibles didn't go up very much. Inflation has been rampant in Ethiopia the past year; food has doubled in price. Transportation, home supplies, everything has skyrocketed in price. But our Lord has kept the Bibles at a low $4.50/Bible! The seniors at a church in North Carolina did a fund-raiser and contributed $500 toward this cost. Isn't our Lord Jesus good to us? So we have ordered 823 Bibles for the Burji believers, and 350 Bible for the Alaba believers. Pray that as they receive their Bibles the Spirit will speak to them, that they will see the Living Word in clearer focus and follow Him with their whole hearts.
7) The Bethel Hill Baptist church and the Roxboro, NC, area churches are considering the establishment of a rural medical clinic in Burji. This is a serious need, but it is also a HUGE undertaking. We need to know the mind of the Lord Jesus. Please pray for us and them as we ask the Lord for direction. As this develops, we'll keep you posted on the details.
8) Dave and I continue to speak on Ethiopia and the Lord's harvest there. We speak in churches, schools, events. And as the Lord appoints people, we support them in His call to prayer or financial support. As the year ends, I will put together a financial summary of His work; if you have contributed and would like a copy, please let us know by email. Also, if you want to be added to our email prayer/update list, please contact us at email@example.com. Over the next 10 days we will be traveling to Florida and Texas, speaking 6 times. Please pray for traveling mercy and a spiritual harvest.
9) On Ethiopian family news, we now have two Ethiopian sons who are engaged. Fasil is recently engaged to Rahel; they will marry in June 08 when we are there. David is betrothed to Fasika; their marriage is likely 2-3 years away, but in Ethiopian custom David has assumed full financial and guidance responsibility for his bride (very much like Joseph's care for Mary). Bereket's vision remains quite poor, although his cornea transplant and cataract surgeries were successful. Please pray for him in school and in his spiritual development; it is very difficult for him to read his school books and Bible. We are rejoicing that our daughter Emebet (see photo below) has moved from the Girls Home in the capital to a foster home in Alaba; her foster parents are a wonderful Christian couple; we cannot thank them enough for their ministry to our Emebet. She is adapting well to life in Alaba, although a person in their home died of malaria shortly after she arrived.
10) I have retired from nursing, so I have more time for home and Ethiopia things. We are tentatively looking at returning to Ethiopia (me only) in early 08, then in early summer 08 (both of us), and again in late Fall 08 (both of us). Each trip will have its own purpose and character. As these become more defined, we'll keep you posted. As always, our trips and the care of our Ethiopian children is a financial obligation that we absorb ourselves; 100 percent of all gifts received by others is forwarded to the Ethiopian church.
May our Lord bless you above all measure for your participation with us in the Gospel. My prayer is that at the end of the day, He will find me faithful. Let us keep to the work!
6:54 AM The latest addition to our home page is called Dedicated Servants of Yesteryear.
6:52 AM When I get up from the computer, here's what usually greets me. Ain't Shelties the most wonderfulist animals in the world?
6:45 AM As I type, the wind is howling, the rain is beating against the windows of Bradford Hall, and darkness has descended upon the farm. Makes me want to get out The Hound of the Baskervilles.
6:41 AM Today was the deadline for the publisher to receive my latest book, Perspectives on the Ending of Mark. By God's grace I met it. My next deadline is March 1 for What I Have Learned from the Anabaptists. Deadlines are very important to me. How can I expect my students to meet theirs if I don't meet mine?
Wednesday, November 14
7:28 PM Coming up this week….
1) Tomorrow night Becky and I will be speaking on Ethiopia at Bladen Union Baptist Church near Fayetteville, NC. The service begins at 6:00 pm.
2) On Friday night at 7:00 pm we’ll be at the SIM Retirement home in Sebring, FL, sharing with a group of retired missionaries, many of whom served in Ethiopia.
3) On Saturday evening and Sunday morning we’ll be speaking at Covenant Community Church in Orlando, FL.
If you live nearby, we’d love to meet you in person at any of these events.
7:22 PM Beware of etymologizing!
7:18 PM Could our expectations about marriage be wrong?
7:15 PM So you think Ron Paul is too soft on crime and drugs, too libertarian, too pro-Palestine? Think again.
7:12 PM Gabor Steingart tells us why the falling dollar is a Pearl Harbor-like disaster just waiting to happen.
7:06 PM Happy Birthday, Aaron Copland. His Fanfare for the Common Man (mp3) is one of my all-time favorites. As a musician myself, I agree with this quote of his:
6:51 PM Logos Bible Software personnel are reading some dandy papers at this year’s ETS meeting in San Diego. Check them out here.
6:47 PM Glad to see Izzy Lyman’s intrepid pen at work again. Here’s her latest on Ron Paul.
6:44 PM If you struggle with your French pronunciation as much as I do, you’ll enjoy these audio files from the University of Texas. Warning: “Tex” is a real crack up.
6:37 PM Why torture is wrong.
6:35 PM Here’s an excellent bibliography on the pistis Christou debate (pdf.), a subject that came up in a paper in our Ph.D. seminar yesterday. Thanks to Michael Bird and Preston Sprinkle for laboring to provide it.
6:30 PM Technorati tipped me off about this essay by Rod Decker on the value of small churches. One comment put a big smile on my face:
6:26 PM In Greek this week we’ve been talking about words that differ in accent and breathing marks only. It made me want to resurrect something I’d posted on my blog a while back.
6:29 PM A huge “thank you” to Jim Baird of B & H Academic for sending me a gratis copy of the Apologetics Study Bible.
Tuesday, November 13
4:29 AM The latest addition to our home page is called What Christianity Offers Us.
Monday, November 12
8:26 PM Take a look at this turn-of-the-century beauty in Clarksville. It is mind-boggling to me, but someone has bought this property and is tearing down the house to put up a modular in its place. Their loss is our gain, as we got to salvage anything we wanted from this lovely lady.
The second story was in pristine condition, but the ground floor had been left to the termites. A few hours of labor with hammer and crowbar and it was time to divvy up the loot.
To Nathan went the claw-footed bathtub (porcelain, over cast iron).
He also got this gorgeous mantle and mirror set.
Of course, he got all the doors (about 12 in all).
Et moi? I am pleased as a pickle to show you my new oversized mailbox. (I also needed a whisk broom for my car.) Not bad for 5 hours of work, eh?
Then it was back to the farm for some venison soup (compliments of Becky Lynn), after which we ran up to South Boston, where Nathan has been working on the porches of the most ornate Victorian home in town, all 7,000 square feet of it.
He had already completed his work on the front porch (the owner wanted it done before Halloween), rebuilding the entire foundation, brick work, porch framing, and flooring.
His able assistant (a card-carrying member of the UWA, Unskilled Workers of America, mind you) helped him with jacking up the side porch so that he could set the posts in their proper places.
Then it was home again, home again, where you know who made -- what else? -- for supper. Right now it's time for some Bunny Tracks, so it's sayonara until tomorrow.
7:18 AM Recently I spoke with a young married couple that was struggling whether they should attend a church in the rural community where they live or drive a considerable distance to another church that better suits their needs and desires. (A similar question is being asked by Alan Knox over at The Assembling of the Church.) They asked me for my opinion since they knew that I attend church in the rural farming community in which I live, even though the church is not elder-led, age-integrated, etc. The churches in rural Virginia have been built up largely in terms of horse and buggy communities. Today we have the automobile and hard-surfaced roads that make it easy to drive great distances to assemble with other Christians. Personally, I think the advantages of assembling where you live far outweigh the disadvantages. Now, I hold no brief for some types of rural churches. I do know one thing, however. The churches of rural America must be built, if they are to survive, by members of the rural communities themselves, be they life-long residents or (like us) more recent transplants from the outside. As poet Edward Robinson has said in his Toussaint l'Ouverture: "The few that have the word/Are mostly the wrong few in the wrong place,/On thrones or chairs of state too high for them/Where they sit swollen or scared, or both, as may be." Rural churches will be strengthened to the degree that we who live in the heartland love our "neighbor" not for the sake of any gain, whether here or hereafter, not because loving him provides satisfaction to some desire or need of ours, but simply because he is our neighbor. In the language of 1 Corinthians, we will offer him agape, or caritas, disinterested, "not-seeking-its-own" love. It is not by chance that I live where I do, though my presence in the community is not necessarily a salutary thing in itself. One must work to make friends and to achieve the respect of others. And that is very hard work indeed --going from being an "outsider" to an "insider." It would be much easier to drive a good distance to fellowship with other believers.
7:10 AM Looks like the temps will be in the 70s today, so we've cancelled our plans to process one of our steers today. Instead Nathan will be cutting one last field that we'll bale sometime later this week. I still can't believe we're getting up hay in November. He and I will also be salvaging some wood from an old house. I tell you, it's great to be back on my feet again. I missed working for "Massa" Nate.
Sunday, November 11
6:17 AM We had a wonderful evening last night celebrating the work of the Lord Jesus around the world. Our guests were living examples of Christians committed to praying for the lost. It is absolutely necessary that we pray for people to come to Christ and to grow and develop in the Lord, and these friends are doing just that. I cannot even begin to express my appreciation to them for their love, friendship, and intercession. I realize that not everyone I witness to will respond. I realize that only the Father can draw men to Himself. And He is! People everywhere are surrendering to the radical demands of Jesus. They are learning that a person lives only through dying. That the way up is down. That weakness equals strength. That love is not sex, wealth is not money, faithfulness is not success, relationship is not religion. If our local churches are weak and ineffective, it is because we ourselves have never learned these truths.
So to those who blessed us with their presence last night: Thank you for translating the Word of God into your daily lives. You are great examples to Becky and me. We love you!
Saturday, November 10
3:55 PM Just finished writing the preface to Perspectives on the Ending of Mark. Our guests will begin arriving momentarily for tonight's dinner. I'm looking forward to an enjoyable evening discussing missions.
10:38 AM Saturday shout out and thank you to a very special friend for the gift of Belgian, White Chocolate, Macadamia Nut coffee creamer. I'm sure we'll enjoy it in heaven.
10:32 AM Just back from making a trash run. As you can see, it was long overdue.
6:53 AM I think it was in the course of studying at Jerusalem University College in the Holy Land that I received the first intimation of the importance of Hebrew, as much for the study of the New Testament as of the Old. There must, I knew, be something important about reading the sayings of Jesus in a language very much like His own (if indeed He did not teach in Greek, which I think is unlikely). When I was on the point of leaving Israel for Los Angeles I managed to find a copy of the Hebrew New Testament for sale. It seems almost inconceivable now, but I had for years read my New Testament in every language (it seemed) except Hebrew. Oddly enough, I knew of very few Hebrew professors who would agree that the Hebrew New Testament could shed light on the words of Jesus. Their point is well taken if they mean that we must always give primacy of place to the inspired Greek text. But personally I know of no more satisfying experience than that of reading the Scriptures not only in the languages in which they were written but in translations as well. I say all this to emphasize that the New Testament in Hebrew is available here should you like to try it out for yourself.
בְּרֵאשִׁית הָיָה הַדָּבָר וְהַדָּבָר הָיָה אֶת־הָאֱהִים וְהוּא הַדָּבָר הָיָה אֱהִים׃
6:45 AM 100 percent better. That's how my left heel is feeling now that I've seen the doctor and am punctiliously obeying his orders: always wear shoes (no bare feet), add ice and stretching exercises, take your meds (anti-inflammatory and steroids), and wear orthopedics (to be ordered). The improvement was literally overnight and just in time to help Nathan unload a trailer and make a trash run.
6:28 AM The latest addition to our home page is called Ron Paul and Republican Politics.
6:25 AM "Entrust the past to God's mercy, the present to His love, and the future to His providence." - Augustine.
6:20 AM This evening Becky and I are hosting about 25 guests for a small dinner party here at the Hall. I'll be sharing stories and slides about one of my recent trips abroad to share the Good News. Becky's cooking two different soups, and I'm told that one of our guests is bringing homemade bread. Meanwhile, I'm gearing up to speak at the missions conference that begins tomorrow morning at Richland Creek Baptist Church in Raleigh. The services are at 8:45, 9:30, and 11:00. The conference continues with a banquet Wednesday night and another message on missions next Sunday morning. I've been allotted 30 minutes for each message, and I'm anxious that I'll go over that limit. My greatest faults are talking too much and talking too fast.
Friday, November 9
6:17 PM I've excerpted the following from an email Becky just sent to a church leader in Gondar, Ethiopia:
An offering was taken this morning. Every penny of the $216.42 collected will go to assist the evangelists in Gondar. Praise the Lord for what He is doing in the hearts of His people. Let the kingdom expand!
6:33 AM This morning your Ethiopia missionaries are off to speak at a homeschooling group in Charlotte Court House, VA. Modules include Ethiopian food, culture, language, music, evangelism, and the church in Gondar. We're meeting at Mount Tirzah Baptist Church.
6:30 AM I have never considered myself an homme-de-lettres in the sense of a "New Testament scholar," for all such notions, in my view, are inordinately superficial. I do not believe that a distinction is to be made between the academic study of Scripture and the devotional reading of same. That is, quite simply, a false disjunction. For me, study and devotion are two sides of the same coin: I study the Bible devotionally, and I perform my daily devotions scientifically. The academic and the affective go hand in glove. Some, I think, are vaguely shocked whenever I say this, but I am quite sure it is not necessary to sacrifice Athens for Jerusalem.
This is one reason why in my books and essays I have never (to my knowledge) made the statement, "As a New Testament scholar I...." The truth is that I do not see myself as a New Testament scholar but as a simple student of the Scriptures, a child, if you will, wading on the shore of an unlimited (and still vastly unexplored) ocean. At least I can say that my academic work in the text has been as much a personal and private matter of the heart as it has been a scholarly pursuit. I have never struggled with a lack of devotional attitude in the midst of a rigorous writing schedule. In fact, I must say that the more I write, the less I'm impressed with my past writing. The scriptural injunction, "Let the dead bury their dead," seems to apply with some force to an author's past literary accomplishments, for I see no reason to focus on the past when a vast new world of discovery awaits me in the future.
When I think back to my own days in the doctoral program at the University of Basel, for example, I hardly ever think about the hours spent in research and writing, lecture halls and libraries. Instead, I tend to recall with great fondness the free hospitality of the Schaub and Jost families, the fellowship we enjoyed in the Baptistengemeinde there, the panegyric of free organ music in the local Reformed church on Friday nights, the odd smiles Becky and I would get whenever we greeted complete strangers with a "Gruezi miteinand," the debates over politics with the ideological waifs and strays in the practical theology department, and so forth -- all experiences having to do with everyday life. I was delighted to discovery that my doctoral program, even in the austere environment of a major European university, could be intensely enjoyable and satisfying, as long as I maintained my spiritual equilibrium.
That might be the key, if there is one, to truly enjoying one's doctoral studies: rejecting both a purely academic approach and a purely devotional one. At least that's what I have experienced.
6:12 AM There will be a very interesting seminar at this year's SBL meeting in San Diego (which I will have to miss). The big question: How many of the textual choices in the UBS will be reversed or changed in the new edition? Or will textual optimism simply be notched up a rank? At the very least, I think Matt. 5:22 and John 3:13 need rethinking.
Thursday, November 8
5:15 PM This has been a busy day for Becky and me. It began with a trip to Durham to see the podiatrist at the Duke Foot Clinic to see if he could do anything about my flat tire. Then we ran several errands, including a stop for a great lunch at the 96 Buffet in Oxford. Right now B is sewing up a storm: all new dresses for the winter. What I've seen so far looks great. It took us quite a while before we could find a place selling old-fashioned zippers. (Sewing seems to be a dying art.) Anyway, I look at how hard she works on everything from sewing her own clothing to growing her own vegetables to processing her own beef (we've got another cow scheduled to do this Monday) and I am simply blown away. I wish I had half her stamina and self-discipline.
By the way, here's the scene from our front porch when we left the house morning, a reminder of the ever-new faithfulness of God:
6:03 AM The latest addition to our home page is called You Can't Lock Up Lady Liberty.
5:56 AM Chuck Baldwin is at his very best in this essay on the Ron Paul Revolution. Don’t be surprised that a pastor is appealing to his fellow pastors to take limited, constitutional government seriously. Yes, the task of the church is to seek God’s kingdom first. Yes, politics can easily become a substitute for God. Yes, the way of politics is in direct contrast to the way of the cross. Yes, the church must reject any kind of alignment with the state. But to think that the separation of church and state means that the Christian perspective is irrelevant in political affairs is pure balderdash. Pastor friend, read Chuck’s essay, then decide for yourself whether you can in good conscience support a presidential candidate other than Dr. No.
5:45 AM Yesterday in our New Testament class I gave a talk on the subject of marriage, singleness, divorce, and remarriage. I'm afraid it was a little complicated. I would mention here that I belong to a minority who think that both Jesus and Paul prohibited remarriage after divorce, even divorce for porneia. I entirely agree with those who say that death alone can break the yoke of marriage. Even in the case of porneia, I would advise divorce only in the last resort. What it all boils down to is this: I think we should always be going about trying to heal broken relationships. If we truly set aside our vanity and egotism, I believe very few marriages need to end in divorce. I would only add that Becky and I are available to help any seminary couple who needs a word of encouragement along these lines. Meantime, I want to be working for the kingdom, knowing that the time has been shortened and opportunities for service are limited. What Jesus said to the rich young ruler I imagine He could say to many a married couple today: "Sell all that you have and follow Me." The demand is total. I believe that nothing less than our complete obedience is acceptable to Him. This is what I tried, so inadequately, to say yesterday.
Wednesday, November 7
7:31 PM Here’s an excellent interview with Izzy Lyman of the Homeschooling Revolution. Izzy has just said goodbye to the blogosphere. She’ll be greatly missed. I’m reminded of the Greek commentator Theophylact’s interpretation of the Christian life as a journey involving a band of travelers. Every now and again they have to check up and ask, “Has anyone fallen out? Has anyone been left behind while the others have pressed on? Is there anything we can do help to one another?” Izzy was relentless in her pursuit of encouraging parents not to straggle away, to linger behind, or to so drift as to miss the grace of the homeschooling experience. Hers was a website I checked every single day, and that says a lot. Izzy writes, “The revolution was blogged.” I respectfully disagree. I would change the tense: “The revolution has been blogged,” as the results will be around for a very long time to come. Happy trails, Miss Izzy, wherever God should lead you.
Tuesday, November 6
4:59 AM The latest addition to our home page is called Admitting Our Mistakes.
4:54 AM Students, here are a couple of Greek language tools you might be interested in. They're at the Textkit site.
4:50 AM Meet Sheppie, Nathan's new Shetland Sheep Dog. He joins Shiloh and Sheba as our resident guard dogs here at the farm. He's a younger version of Shiloh: sweet, petite, and a spittin' image to boot.
4:42 AM Recently Matthew McDill reminded us that elders in the church wear humble mantles of authority, an authority they exercise not through overbearing attitudes or unilateral actions but through genuine, loving relationships. Have you ever noticed how the important people in our lives exercise vast relational authority over us? If we understood relationships better, we’d have a better understanding of the power of love. Of all the people we should love purely, it is the people we lead. Is it any wonder, then, that elders in the New Testament were chosen from within the congregations they served? Outsiders could hardly be expected to earn the level of acceptance within the group so desperately needed for leadership. An elder’s relationships with his own family and his own neighbors and friends had to be deep and real if others were to accept his leadership. Don’t misunderstand me. I’m certainly not saying that a man can’t be an effective leader unless he has grown up in the community in which he serves. But in focusing on “leadership from within” the Scriptures are holding up a red flag of warning that “pastoral authority” is another name for relational authority (Heb. 13:7). You may call it pastoring, mentoring, facilitating, nurturing, training, directing, or discipling. Whatever we call it, its root is the same.
Back to Matthew’s essay, then. How does the risen Lord Jesus lead His church, of which He is the only Head? By the relational essence of Pentecost, by the long, slow process of helping us to trade in our vacillating instability for rocklike, Spirit-filled maturity, by enabling us to “love like God.” In the face of this basic biblical principle, why do we cling so obstinately and irrationally to our “theology of status”?
4:35 AM Not again.
4:31 AM Jimmy James, one of the 76 "Great Escapers," tells his incredible story here. Several years ago I bought his biography while on a visit to London. I only wish I had gotten his autograph while I was there.
4:23 AM While southern Virginia has been in a severe drought, my home town in Hawaii has been experiencing severe flooding. I still think Kailua Beach is the most beautiful spot on earth. After all, Becky and I spent our honeymoon there 31 years ago. And it's no surprise that so many tourists vacation there.
Monday, November 5
11:24 AM In 1983 I graduated from the University of Basel in Switzerland with my doctorate in theology. During my graduation ceremony I was asked to place my hand on a 13th century sword and swear (in Latin) that I would always defend the democratic ideals of that nation. I see the Swiss are now returning the favor. Good for them. Vielen Dank.
9:23 AM Right now I'm editing the papers from our Markan conference. They're due on Nov. 15. The challenge will be writing the preface. How do you describe papers that are so remarkably varied in their approach to the problem? I only hope I can do justice to the superb meeting the Lord gave us. By the way, the publisher is calling the book Perspectives on the Ending of Mark, and its release date has been set for Sep. 1, 2008. In case you've forgotten, here's a pic of the jolly old contributors:
7:45 AM While the leading candidates for president continue to display their animus for the Constitution, I think we ought to remember that the election of a true Republican to the White House will not change the Neronian self-indulgence that characterizes the politics of Washington, and has for decades. The FDR-ing of America has been going on for so long that it will take more than a single principled conservative to turn the ship around. However, even if Ron Paul should fail to win the Republican nomination, it's my opinion that our nation has been given a golden opportunity to rethink our priorities begun by the Ron Paul Revolution. Does constitutional government really matter to us anymore? Is it right or moral to wage unilateral preemptive war? Why do so many nations of the world consider the U.S. at least as dangerous as its adversaries? These and other questions are legitimate issues for a Republic like ours and should be discussed openly and freely. Meantime, I see no no one refuting Ron Paul on the facts, and there's no longer any tidy way of shutting him up. And have you noticed? The Internet is perhaps the greatest impediment to tyranny today. As Jefferson wrote to Lafayette in 1823, "The only security of all is a free press." So these are good days for our nation, a crossroads even. Will we take advantage of the opportunity?
Sunday, November 4
6:20 PM I had a blast at Fuquay today. As usual, I could merely sketch a faint outline of what I wanted to say. Where does the time go? I have a hundred different ideas based on the Bible for church restoration/revival, but all of them are simply suggestive. The most important thing is that we wean ourselves from the namby-pamby canned man-made "solutions" to our problems and return to the pure milk of the Word of God. I pray that the Holy Spirit will move over the great, selfish, sin-stained land, and claim a host of creatures who have lost their faith in God, free-thinkers and no-thinkers, hopeless and hapless. I believe He has never been more ready to revolutionize this world than now. So my thanks to pastor Chris and pastor Ben and pastor Jim and all the brethren for allowing me to spend time with some really great people. I felt the sincerity and humility of a church that has gone deep into the heart of God.
5:10 AM The latest addition to our home page is called 15 Stupid Things Ron Paul Would Never Do.
5:07 AM Right now I'm getting ready to drive 3 hours to the town of Fuquay-Varina south of Raleigh to speak at Fuquay Baptist Church's 3 morning services. The church is in the middle of a series on brokenness, and I've been asked to be one of their series speakers. My message is entitled, "The Power of Negative Thinking."
Saturday, November 3
4:12 PM We're done. 112 bales.
11:45 AM Just checked up on the day laborers. They've been felling and cutting trees. JR tells me he's never chopped fire wood before but I don't believe him for one moment. Just look at what he's done so far.
Meantime, the grass is in rows waiting to be baled. Being the grand blessé I'll likely drive the trailer while others do the pick up. After, that is, we enjoy some of Becky Lynn's hearty home-made soup.
11:19 AM Seems that now, egads, Ron Paul's voice is too high pitched for him to win the election. Actually, I like his soft-spoken, light-hearted demeanor, and I'm totally unbiased.
10:46 AM Alpha Mom, Omega Mom, Kappa Mom, or Iota Mom. Which one are you?
10:08 AM Over at In Hoc Signo you'll find an interesting entry on the editor of the famous Theological Dictionary of the New Testament. O, the dangers of statism.
9:54 AM QOTD:
For more ways to keep up with your theological German, go to this great site.
9:26 AM FYI....
9:17 AM "Waterboarding" is revealed as a classic case of euphemism here. Not being an ethicist, I'll have to leave the condemnation to others. Meantime, the best blurb I've heard on the subject was posted by James Ostrowski yesterday on the LRC blog:
7:58 AM Life in the country has many benefits, not least the potential for developing deep and lasting relationships with one's neighbors. Where I live, many of our neighboring farmers are also members of our small church. Averett Baptist Church is your typical steepled brick edifice with its sanctuary, Sunday School classrooms, and baptistry. But church for me is far more than these things. The external facilitates the more ultimate relationships of life -- "church decentralized" if you will. Yesterday I sat for long hours in the home of one of our elderly church members, a mainstay in our community. We talked and prayed and read Scripture. I used to think that the old hymn was just for the future:
Now I know better. It's a hymn for every day. We need not wait for heaven to sing and shout the victory. Here I was -- a relative newcomer to the community -- in the presence of a giant whose family has farmed here for generations. One in Christ. Mutually burden bearing. Love transcending the old, worldly chasms. Being the church to each other in the secular world of every-day life. Unconsciously. Involuntarily. Supernaturally. Blessed hours of common courtesy, old-fashioned country good manners, and genuine agape.
Spiritual awakening awaits an awakening in our homes and communities.
Friday, November 2
7:43 PM Farm update: We just finished off a big pot of rice and a huge bowl of Chinese food, made of course with my secret ingredient. I cheated tonight, however, adding some packaged "beef and broccoli" gravy to my concoction. Don't say I ever get stuck in a rut! But back to the farm. If you can believe it, we cut hay this week and are scheduled to bale it tomorrow. This is only our second cutting of the entire growing season. The demand for good horse-quality hay is enormous in this area, and Nathan delivered another 50 bales to Oxford today, and we just got another order today, and we're wondering if we'll have enough for our own animals this winter. This will help: we'll be "doing" 3 or 4 of our bigger cows in the next few weeks. Good thing, too, as I believe we used up the last of our yummy sirloin this evening for supper. With my gimpy left foot I'll do my best to help the farm manager tomorrow getting up the hay. The good news is that a student of mine from the seminary volunteered out of the clear blue to come up and help us tomorrow. Bribes from students are always accepted (just kidding, JR!). Tomorrow is the inauguration of an annual tradition around here: cutting firewood for winter. Nate's wood shed is full, but ours is practically empty, and we go through a ton of logs every year now that we've installed a wood stove in our library fireplace. The weather promises to be knock-dead gorgeous tomorrow, with highs in the low 80s. I'm looking forward to it, after I eat some popcorn tonight and get a good night's rest.
8:48 AM A couple of weeks ago I did some some international traveling. An American seems to stick out like a sore thumb these days wherever he goes. As usual, I kept a diary of my trip. As I reviewed it this morning one thing struck me. No matter where I traveled I felt no animosity toward America per se, despite our reputation as being a warmongering, unfree-trading, terrorist-obsessing bully. The people I met are simply tired of our foreign policy -- tired of the "evil of lesser evilism" mantra, the moral myopia, the relativism, the brashness and arrogance. As I watched Putin on TV in the room of a Soviet-era hotel I noticed how effectively the clever, cold-eyed Russian leader orated. From what I could gather, I guessed that the U.S. was again trying to put the world in a black-and-white bubble, with Russia on the outside looking in. Oh-oh, the Bush doctrine, I thought: "You're either with us, or agin' us." It was enough to send me burrowing back under my cheap hotel feather blanket.
Sometimes I wish our politicians would get out and mix with the normal, everyday people of the world. In cheap hotels preferably.
7:56 AM The latest addition to our home page is called Ron Paul's Slam Dunk Foreign Policy.
7:50 AM "I fought on the wrong side of our ideological and cultural war that divided our country and poisoned our politics." -- David Brock, Blinded by the Right.
7:43 AM PowerPoint bores me. At least, most PowerPoint presentations bore me. In my opinion, they actually inhibit clarity in thinking, expression, and interaction. That said, my book The Myth of Adolescence comes with a CD and on it is a PowerPoint presentation of the book's contents. Just thought I'd tell you why the book is shrink-wrapped. As for the effectiveness of the presentation, you'll need to judge for yourself.
Thursday, November 1
1:36 PM New Testament students, I've decided to postpone the due date for your term papers until after Thanksgiving Break. The new due date is Wednesday, Nov. 28, which gives you two additional weeks to work on them. Hope this helps. Thanks for all your hard work.
9:57 AM The latest addition to our home page is called Ron Paul: Our Next President?
9:51 AM Yesterday I sent to my publisher the revision of my beginning grammar, Learn to Read New Testament Greek. He should receive it today (its due date) via FedEx. My next manuscript is due on the 15th of this month, and the next one after that on March 1, 2008. My thanks to the Lord Jesus for enabling me to meet publishing deadlines -- thus far at least.
9:46 AM R. G. Hutchison reviews Rethinking the Synoptic Problem.
9:42 AM Here’s a good essay on the dialect spoken in the part of Virginia where I live. Nathan has already picked up many of the local expressions. Before long he’ll even be saying “a boot” for “about.”
9:38 AM SEBTS has just published the audio files from last week’s C. S. Lewis conference. Quintilian, the Roman master of oratory, once said, “It is a good thing to know, and always to keep turning over in the mind, the things which were illustriously done of old.” Lewis left his readers two things – an example and an inspiration.
9:32 AM This essay is worth reading for many reasons, not least because of its comment on the authorship of Hebrews (!). Well done, Lew. It is easier to produce Pharisees than Christians.
9:29 AM Some good thoughts from one of our Ph.D. students, Keith Campbell, who is also an avid outdoorsman:
Clicking here will take you to his website.
9:22 AM What makes a good book?
9:16 AM QOTD: "I and the father are not one." -- Markus Barth, son of Karl Barth.
9:10 AM The escape tunnels at Stalag Luft III (the site of the so-called "Great Escape" of March, 1944) could number about 100, according to this fascinating essay. My dream is one day to visit Zagan and see the site in person, as did this couple.