Tuesday, December 13
9:27 AM This will be my final blog entry until after we return from Ethiopia on January 17. The days have flown by since our last trip. Week after week I have had nothing but joy sharing about our vision for Africa. Having you as my cyber friends has been half the fun. Your prayer support gives a whole new meaning to the term "international missions." Truly the sun never sets on the work that the Lord Jesus is doing in the hearts and lives of DBO readers. It is traditional in Hawaii to say goodbye by giving a flower lei and saying "Aloha." The lei I cannot give. But I can say Aloha. This word has a very special meaning. It means both "goodbye" and "love." So, until we meet again, a sincere and heartfelt Aloha from both of us.
9:23 AM Special request: Please remember our son Nathan in your prayers. We could not make this trip without his help. Pray daily for him as he oversees a 123-acre working farm by himself during our absence. Pray specifically that God may grant him health, strength, wisdom, and divine protection.
9:12 AM Tuesday morning shout-out to Koller's Cottage and the Contemporary Calvinist. Your intercession as we leave for the Horn of Africa is deeply appreciated. I am still receiving emails from readers expressing their love and concern for us. Life is good.
Monday, December 12
1:10 PM A big DBO shout-out to all who have said they are committed to praying for us, including Lady Carmon, the Austins, and Eric and Amy Ashley. I am grateful for the many people who have taken an interest in the Ethiopian church. As I said in my message yesterday, it's all been good. I have loved every minute of working with my bride in doing what little we can to help the desperately needy in her home country. Thanks again to everyone who has written us with their encouragement and prayers. My main joy has come in ministering with Becky as a team. I wonder if Priscilla and Acquila felt this way? Meanwhile Becky has gone over to Maple Ridge to try and find her arthritis medication (I hope we haven't misplaced it!) and I'm doing some final grading. It's a cloudy and gloomy day here in southern Virginia, but our hearts are full of warmth and happiness. (It's also splendid riding weather, but who's got the time?) Thanks, one and all, for your faithfulness to the Lord Jesus -- and to us. It means a great deal.
8:44 AM Yesterday we bade a teary-eyed farewell to our home church. Becky snapped this pic just after our morning service concluded. I wish I had time to tell you what each of these precious individuals means to us. They are not just church members: they are neighbors and friends. God's Spirit has been doing a good work among us. We will miss them.
Sunday, December 11
8:12 AM Now available: itinerary and prayer guide for our Ethiopian ministry.
7:42 AM The BBC is reporting that Americans are becoming PC about Christmas.
The report goes on to note that opponents of the "secularization" of Christmas, mostly evangelical Christians, are trying to have the last word.
Again, my position: Both the left and the right have it wrong on this issue.
1) Those crying "Keep Christ in Christmas" and "Jesus is the reason for the season" are both historically and biblically uninformed. Historically, the Christ I worship was never in Christ's Mass, and biblically speaking there is no "season" to observe. Jesus never commanded us to remember His birth, but He did command us to remember His death and resurrection. And such was the consistent practice of the early church.
2) According to New York Times author Adam Cohen ("Christmas isn't what it used to be"), the Puritans considered Christmas un-Christian and tried to keep it out of America. They failed to find Dec. 25 in the Bible -- their sole source of religious guidance -- and insisted the date derived from a heathen wintertime celebration.
3) On their first Dec. 25 in the New World in 1620, the Puritans continued working and ostentatiously ignored the "holiday."
4) From 1659 to 1681 Massachusetts went even further and made celebrating Christmas "by forebearing of labor, feasting or in any other way" a crime.
5) As late as 1855, New York newspapers were reporting that Presbyterian, Baptist, and Methodist churches were closed on Dec. 25 because "they do not accept the day as a Holy One."
6) Prior to the Civil War, Christmas was recognized in just 18 states.
I'm with the Puritans on this one. Yes, on Dec. 25 we will miss our family and friends back in the states. But we won't be missing the "holiday." In fact, we'll be ostentatiously ignoring it while trekking to the backwaters of Obaya to visit the villages of Yebano and Koro, sharing the Christ of the Bible.
7:38 AM Yesterday we received this touching message in response to BeckyLynn's essays on Christmas:
To you and your wife I would like to say Thank You from the bottom of my heart for articulating that which I have found most difficult to express these past many years. I now feel vindicated for holding on to my convictions, and even somewhat cleansed by the purity contained within the motives behind your decision. May GOD continue to richly bless you, and your family, as you endeavor to serve our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
In His Name, Tim W.
7:26 AM What a great day we had yesterday. Fed the animals, then drove to the big city to do some last minute shopping for Ethiopia. At the top of the list was suntan lotion. Ethiopia lies almost on the Equator, and last year I received a bona fide sunburn. I told everyone I was now an official Ethiopian (the word means "burnt-faced one"). I think I'll try to keep my western visage this time around. We also purchased extension cords for our projectors (which we will leave with the churches) and antiseptic wipes (we'll see no bathrooms for 4 weeks). When we arrived back at the farm Becky ordered me to bed for a nap. Now I'm feeling much better and think I may have finally conquered my chest cold. Last evening we invited eight seminary students out to dinner and then took them to the classical music program on campus. The weather was perfect: clear and cold. My good friend and colleague John Davis and the Northeast Piedmont Chorale gave a magnificent performance. Kudos, John!
Friday, December 9
6:59 AM Just received this wonderfully kind letter:
Enclosed is Check No.___ in the amount of $516.00 that represents a Love Offering taken for you and Dave. Please use this as you see fit on your upcoming mission trip to Ethiopia. May God richly bless you both on this special endeavor. Our thoughts and prayers will be with you as you continue to serve the Lord in such a great way.
Your Church Family, Averett Baptist Church
On Sunday we'll be sharing with our home congregation how the Lord Jesus has already been blessing the ministry among the peoples of southern Ethiopia, and how we plan to further assist them in the coming weeks.
6:50 AM I'm a great fan of libraries. I just borrowed the following and have added them to my ever-increasing stack:
- Do As I Say (Not As I Do): Profiles in Liberal Hypocrisy
- Divided by God: America's Church-State Problem And What We Should Do About It
- Condi Vs. Hillary: The Next Great Presidential Race
- The Great Escape: The Full Dramatic Story with Contributions from Survivors and Their Families
- Imperial Ambitions: Conversations on a Post-9/11 World
6:38 AM The latest addition to our home page is called Christmas: Going On From Here. It was written by BeckyLynn in response to the many young families who have written to tell us that have decided to celebrate Christ (but not Christmas) this year but need advice in how to deal graciously with their extended family.
6:35 AM Question: How many blogs do they have in Iran?
6:30 AM It’s seems hard to believe, but a week from today I'm scheduled to speak in the chapel service of the Assemblies of God Bible College in Addis Ababa. One of our “sons” is a student there and was instrumental in having me invited to speak. The following Sunday I will speak twice in the Evangelical Kale Heywot church. Each time I will use an interpreter. People often ask, Isn’t it hard to speak through an interpreter? Actually it’s easier. It provides you with plenty of time to formulate your next sentence, which has to be brief and to the point. A 50 minute message actually becomes a 25 minute talk, but it tends to more concise. One of our other sons, Fasil, will be doing most of the translation. He is an exceptional speaker and not only translates my words but imitates my gestures as well. It’s really something to watch Fasil at work, I'm told.
6:26 AM President Bush is calling for Christians to support the ABC approach to the AIDS pandemic – abstinence, being faithful, and using condoms. Sorry to disagree, but the president is wrong. The use of condoms is not a biblical answer to solving the HIV/AIDS scourge. The Catholics have it right on this issue:
The church argues that the only realistic and long-lasting response to Aids is a change in moral behaviour, one that rejects promiscuity and adheres to abstinence and fidelity in sexual relations. Condoms, it says, are not the solution, and it points to good evidence that campaigns promoting them in Africa have actually encouraged promiscuity - and thus fuelled the spread of Aids.
6:20 AM SIL’s Ethnologue has entries on the two language groups we’ll be ministering to during our trip to Ethiopia: Alaba, and Burji. Note the amazingly low literacy rates.
6:12 AM Yesterday was as difficult a day as it gets. But, as He always does, the Lord gave more grace. We would like to say thank you to all who sent condolences about Midnight. The hymn “When All Thy Mercies, O God,” comes to mind:
Ten thousand thousand precious gifts
My daily thanks employ;
Nor is the last a cheerful heart
That tastes those gifts with joy.
When worn with sickness, oft hast Thou
With health renewed my face;
And, when in sins and sorrows sunk,
Revived my soul with grace.
My daily thanks employ;
Nor is the last a cheerful heart
That tastes those gifts with joy.
When worn with sickness, oft hast Thou
With health renewed my face;
And, when in sins and sorrows sunk,
Revived my soul with grace.
Thursday, December 8
8:44 AM I just buried Midnight.
Goodbye, little guy. You brought us much joy. The memory of you still does. We loved you well. We will miss you.
7:08 AM Last night my wife and I watched -- what else? -- Tora! Tora! Tora! Trivia: Did you know that the leader of the attack on Pearl Harbor, Commander Mitsuo Fuchida, became a born-again Christian after the war and traveled the world sharing the love of Jesus? You can read his incredible story here and here. More trivia: "Tora!" is the Japanese word for "tiger," but in this case "To" is the initial syllable of the Japanese word totsugeki, meaning "attack," and "ra" is the initial syllable of raigeki, meaning "torpedo." The three-word message meant that complete surprise had been achieved.
7:00 AM This just in:
Thanks for listing the All Souls Church, Langham Place sermons site on your sermon archives page.Please note that the All Souls sermon archive is now located athttp://www.allsouls.org/sermons as we have changed our hosting arrangements. New with this move is free access to most of the All
Souls sermon archive dating from the 1950's.
Pete Bowman, All Souls Church webmaster
I highly recommend these excellent messages.
6:56 AM In 6 days we leave for Ethiopia, even as a border war with Eritrea looks more and more likely. Understandably, our friends are concerned about our safety. One of the most important things happening in our life as a married couple is learning to be completely dependent upon God and to face whatever comes our way – good or bad – as from His loving hand. As Hebrews 11 says, whether people are delivered or not delivered, in every situation they stand in a position of faith toward the outcome. Sometimes Christians are delivered, and sometimes they are not. Still they tell the king, as did Daniel, “We’re not going to bow.” The man of faith does not bow. He does not bow to the world, he does not bow to the government when it usurps the role of God, and he does not even bow to the church (or to its traditions) when it is on the opposite side of the Bible. Our day is no different from Daniel’s. We too are confronted by our own fiery furnaces, and we face one of two outcomes. We can say, “Our God is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.” Via email I hear from people the world over that they are being convicted by the Lord Jesus more and more not to bow the knee. I don’t have sophisticated tracking services like some websites do, but I do know that our reading audience includes people from Africa, Europe, and Asia. More and more of them are telling Becky and me how God has been leading them to move forward in their lives toward a simpler, more biblical, and more obedient way of living. Sometimes that has brought misunderstanding and opposition, even from those who are closest to them. Which comes first, material things or spiritual things? This question is, perhaps, the one most frequently asked. The gross materialism that characterizes our modern culture – even our church culture – is becoming more and more repugnant to these pilgrims. Do not misunderstand me. I do not deny the necessity of material things. The problem is when the “natural” things of life (or whatever terminology you prefer) become first place. I have to smile when I read of those Christians who, in the face of the evidence contrariwise, want to continue participating in the gross materialism of “the holidays” because they cannot give up their attachment to the “innocent” things of the season. All of us should always have a burning heart for the spiritual over the material, for truth over tradition. We all need the Lord’s forgiveness for this – I more than anyone. So, what does God require of Becky and me? Is it enough to say certain words? Is it enough to affiliate with a certain group? No. God wants us to affirm the exclusiveness He has revealed. And He has revealed these things to us in a way we can comprehend and implement among the children of men. To say “Christ” does not help anyone. Jesus taught that many “christs” would come. The word must contain the content of who God is, what He has done in Christ, and therefore what the Gospel is. Nothing short of this is enough. While a student in Basel I heard the term christophoros. It means “one who bears Christ.” It was used by the church fathers in distinction to another term,christologos – “one who speaks about Christ.” The true Christian is one who does not merely talk about Christ. He is one who bears Christ far and wide. Cross-bearing and Christ-bearing. That is our task as we leave for the great unknown.
6:42 AM Thursday morning shout-out to my Korean students who brought me Kim Chi yesterday. I’ve been told that this delicacy actually has medicinal value. I hope it can help my cold.
6:40 AM Yesterday we had our last faculty meeting of the year. It’s been another great semester. I’m feeling a little worn out. I think it’s a chest cold I’m fighting. I’m determined to lick it with Echinacea and vitamin C. If you can, please remember our Dean, Dr. Russ Bush, in prayer. Last Friday he was diagnosed with a fast-spreading but treatable cancer. He has started aggressive radiation therapy. He gave a marvelous testimony in our meeting yesterday. It was a privilege to hear it. I serve at the best institution in the world and with the most gracious, loving people.
Wednesday, December 7
8:05 AM Nice serendipity. Finney Matthews stopped by my office yesterday. Finney is with Alpha Ministries in India and has invited me to minister there for two weeks next summer in their Bible school and at a pastors' conference. I found India to be a fascinating place, having much in common with Ethiopia -- the fact that you eat with your hands, the spicy food, the deep poverty, etc.
Side note: Last time I was in India, "Bombay" was officially changed to "Mumbai," but does anyone use the new name?
7:59 AM Midnight's showing little sign of improvement. He is now wrapped warmly on our kitchen floor. Thanks to all who've been praying for my little buddy. I'm asking for a miracle.
7:46 AM Eric Ashley explains how to become a world Christian. Editorial comment: I think everyone should travel outside the US at least once, if possible to a third world country. Upon returning one would more easily see our flag-waving nationalism and consumerist mentality to be what it is: a betrayal of our status here as “pilgrims.” As my wife put it in a recent email to our son Bereket:
People who do not know our Lord or love Him, are always watching out for themselves; they are trying to get money, get pleasure, get things, get education, get whatever they have their heart set on. Can you see how being holy, being righteous, living by faith makes such a difference?? When we live in holiness, then we live with our eyes totally on Him and what He wants, we live to serve Him with our whole person...and we trust Him completely to keep His word.
7:42 AM The Department of Philosophy and Religion at Appalachian State University announces an opening for a tenure-track position at the rank of Assistant Professor beginning in the fall of 2006, with an emphasis on New Testament Literature and Christian History.
7:37 AM Here’s a good update on the political situation in Ethiopia.
7:29 AM Don’t forget the concert this Saturday evening on campus at Binkley Chapel, featuring the Northeast Piedmont Choral (to which Becky and I used to belong). It starts at 8:00. We have invited several SEBTS couples out to dinner beforehand and then to the concert. Featured: Bach’s Magnificat, and Poulenc’s Gloria.
7:22 AM On Sunday I mentioned in my sermon from Matthew 9 that Jesus ministered sacrificially, cared deeply, and challenged others to get involved in missions. The Bibles says He visited all the large cities and all the small towns (Josephus said there were about 200 towns in Galilee). Today I met a student who has spent several weeks recently in the Philippines working among the most neglected tribes in the north. What made her stand out was her love for people. That will be our one goal in Ethiopia: to be conduits for the unlimited love of the Lord Jesus.
Tuesday, December 6
6:58 AM Pat Buchanan explains why Japan attacked us 64 years ago.
6:47 AM We leave for Africa in 7 days. This will be my last week on campus before we leave for Ethiopia. I will do all my grading on Friday. I hate to miss graduation but we are saving several hundred dollars in airfare by leaving early. By God's grace we will make it through this hectic week.
6:42 AM Yesterday the National Border Patrol Council endorsed Jim Gilchrist in his battle for California Congressional District 48:
The National Border Patrol Council, the union that represents 10,000 front-line U.S. Border Patrol employees, today announced its endorsement of Jim Gilchrist for Congress in the 48th Congressional District.
In a letter to Gilchrist, dated December 2, T. J. Bonner, President of the National Border Patrol Council stated, “On behalf of more than 10,000 front-line Border Patrol employees, the National Border Patrol Council proudly endorses your candidacy for the 48th Congressional District of California. You have demonstrated an unwavering commitment to ending the illegal immigration crisis that threatens the security, as well as the sovereignty, of our Nation.”
In his letter, Bonner noted that Gilchrist understands “the importance of a multi-faceted immigration enforcement strategy that simultaneously focuses on the borders and the interior of the country” and that he advocates “substantial increases in resources to secure our borders, eliminate the employment of illegal aliens and dramatically curtail immigration fraud.”
The election is today. (Again, my position is that our government is duty-bound to protect the borders and put an end to illegal immigration.)
6:38 AM Just received a copy of Buddy Hanson's latest book: Exit Strategy: A Handbook to Exponentially Improve Your Service for God. On the back cover I wrote:
Has modern evangelicalism sold its soul to the world? In this outstanding new book, Buddy Hanson exposes the rise of compromise and its tragic consequences. What emerges is a new "exit" strategy that will lead the true church to again assume its role as salt and light in the world. The author shows how the government school system has undermined the Christian worldview -- even among Christians! He attacks the root, not the shoot, of the problem by calling upon pastors and all Christians to be shapers of public opinion instead of ceremonial figureheads in society. To those who say, "We are tired of fighting the culture war in America," this book is a well-timed reminder that there can be no peace without victory, and there can be no victory until Christ is acknowledged as Lord in every area of life.
Buddy's website is the Grace and Law Christian Policy Network.
6:29 AM Chip Bayer has just concluded his excellent essays on the emergent church. Please take the time to read the entire series. Here's an excerpt from the conclusion:
My hope is that Christians will be able to recognize the good things about this movement as lessons we should apply and the bad things as something we should reject outright as something other than biblical Christianity. My fear is that too many churches, when introduced to the Emergent Church, will go one of two ways. They will either see the good on the surface and embrace all of the emergent movement (including the bad) or they will recognize the bad and reject everything (even those things that would be beneficial).
Monday, December 5
11:00 PM Today we saw a lot of rain but no snow. Our little goat Midnight took ill so we kept him with us in the living room at Bradford Hall. He is suffering from hypothermia, I think. Even before birth the odds were stacked against him. He was born with a cleft lip and palate and only one wattle. He lost his mother when he was only three days old. He has not grown as he should have though his body weight seems normal for his size. No doubt he is the runt of the herd. I would hate to lose him. We'll continue using the hot water bottle and penicillin tonight.
Would you please pray for Midnight?
1:38 PM Last night the Lord opened the spigot of heaven, in more ways than one. It's been raining all night, and we're expecting our first snowfall of the season tonight. In a spiritual sense, God has also been pouring out His blessings on us in such a way that we feel like crying, "Enough! We can't take it any more!" Last night BeckyLynn and I were invited back to Bethel Hill Baptist Church. After a wonderful home-cooked meal, BeckyLynn explained to the congregation, step by step, what we would be doing during our five weeks in Ethiopia.
Becky had everyone board the airplane and fly with us to the capital via Frankfurt, walking from village to village, sleeping in thatched huts, and sharing the love of Jesus with the desperately neglected people of southern Ethiopia. She also shared that God had put it on our hearts to help the church in Burji finish their meeting hall. The current meeting place is not large enough to accommodate the children in their services. $10,000 would be needed to complete the construction.
Then the surprise was on us. Jason Evans (bottom left) and the other church leaders had been led of the Lord to adopt us as their very own missionaries. After Jason had presented us with a check for the Ethiopian believers in Burji, I offered thanks to them and to the Lord for their "partnership in the Gospel" (Phil. 1:5).
In less than two weeks we will show the congregations in Burji this picture of their "sister church" in Bethel Hill, North Carolina.
By the way, the amount of the check was $10,260, the exact amount needed to complete the Burji meeting hall. As one church leader put it to me as we were leaving, "Brother Dave, this is better than Christmas." All I could say was Amen.
Sunday, December 4
3:38 PM Warm thanks to Reformata for linking to DBO.
3:04 PM Just wanted to pass along the good news that Baker Book House has granted us permission to publish Invitation to the Septuagint by Jobes and Silva on our next Ethiopian CD.
2:59 PM Don't forget not to make a god out of Christmas. Or out of anything, for that matter. A good question to ask oneself from time to time is: Can I freely give up something I enjoy doing, if only temporarily? For example, everyone knows how much I like blogging. People tell me that the Internet must have been invented just for me. Yet last summer I gave it up for 8 and a half weeks. In exactly 8 days I'll be doing it all over again, for five weeks. I will miss writing this weblog, but I don't need to do it. So here's a suggestion. Tell your friends and family you'll be focusing on Christ this Christmas and leaving all the trappings behind, just to take a break from the materialism and to prove to yourselves that you can live without the tree, the gifts, the shopping, etc. If you can't do it this year, why not next year? Something to think and pray about.
2:48 PM BeckyLynn and I enjoyed speaking at Hitesburg Baptist this morning, just down the road from our farm. Thank you, dear friends, for your generous gift to the Ethiopian church. We received $110.00. On the drive home I kept thanking God for the community in which I live. On all accounts, we are uniquely blessed. Meanwhile, this is the beginning of a big week at Bradford Hall. The big question: what to pack, and what to leave? In our living room there are currently enough items to fill 8 suitcases. At least it looks that way.
2:42 PM A DBO reader reminded me about this interesting passage:
1Hear the word which the Lord speaks to you, O house of Israel.2Thus says the Lord:
"Do not learn the way of the Heathen:Do not be dismayed at the signs of heaven,For the Heathen are dismayed at them.3 For the customs of the peoples are futile;For one cuts a tree from the forest,The work of the hands of the workman, with the ax.4 They decorate it with silver and gold;They fasten it with nails and hammersSo that it will not topple.
8:42 AM Here's a preliminary itinerary for our Ethiopian trip (Dec. 13 – Jan. 17). I'll post an updated version prior to our departure.
Tuesday/Dec 13, 2:55 pm. Leave Raleigh-Durham Airport, North Carolina.
Wednesday/Dec 14, 9:15 pm. Arrive Bole Airport, Addis Ababa.
Thursday/Dec 15 - Wednesday/Dec 21. Ministry in Addis.
Thursday/Dec 22. Travel to Soyama in Burji District.
Friday/Dec 23 - Wednesday/Dec 28. Rural ministry in Burji District. The Burji church leaders have arranged our ministry. “Your visit programme is as follows….”
The No of local church you visit
Yele, Nedele No2, Bardafa
Kilicho, Gamiyo, Mure Urumkara
Nedele No 2
Abala, Dale, Kinsa,Toka
For 6 days we will be visiting 2-4 churches each day. These churches are in “the bush.” We will probably be the first white-faced foreigners they have ever seen. We will do a ministry of teaching, encouragement, and evangelism to augment the ministry of the Burji church evangelists. We will speak through a translator into their tribal tongue. Literacy is very low and many do not even speak the national language of Ethiopia.
Thursday/Dec 29. Rest in Soyama.
Friday/Dec 30 - Sunday/Jan 1. Bible Conference in Soyama (for leaders, women, and children).
Monday/Jan 2. Rest in Soyama
Tuesday/Jan 3. Travel to Alaba Town in Alaba District.
Wednesday/Jan 4. Ethiopian Christmas in Alaba.
Friday/Jan 6 - Sunday/Jan 8. Bible Conference in Alaba Town (for leaders, women, and children).
Monday/Jan 9 - Sunday/Jan 15. Rural ministry in Alaba District (return to Addis Sunday afternoon and stay at SIM Guesthouse).
Monday/Jan 16, 10:45 pm. Leave Bole Airport, Addis Ababa.
Tuesday/Jan 17, 8:27 pm. Arrive Raleigh-Durham Airport, North Carolina.
8:23 AM Got this email yesterday:
Dear BeckyLynn,I have just read your thoughts on why you don't celebrate Chm. It simply moved me to tears.... Thank you for sharing, and thank you, Dr. Black for posting it.
And this one:
Dear Mr. Black:It has been well over 20 years since my husband and I "celebrated" christmas, for almost precisely the same reasons that your wife articulated in her letter, which of course I agree with completely!
8:14 AM Here are some cool photos of the battle of Austerlitz reenactment.
Saturday, December 3
8:55 PM Back in my home office again. We just returned from an overnight trip to Richmond. What a blast. Our drive took us through Mecklenburg, Charlotte, Carroll, Amelia, and Chesterfield Counties. This is some of the most historic land in Virginia. While in Richmond I held my final New Testament class of the semester. Among other topics, we discussed Jesus' views on marriage, singleness, divorce, and remarriage, and the history and theology of the Pentecostal Movement. As she has done throughout the semester, Becky prepared lunch for my students -- this time delicious home-made soup (corn chowder and venison/vegetable soup). On the way there we stopped at a restaurant that had slogans at each table. My favorite was: "Time spent fishing is not deducted from your lifespan." Of course, I would have written it as, "Time spent on horseback...." By the way, I'm toying with the idea of leading a Civil War bus tour of Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. Odd, but many people I know in Virginia and North Carolina have never visited the historic sites in these states.
Just checked our inbox. It has exploded. I'll try to get back to you tomorrow. Meanwhile, enjoy your Sunday. To our good friends at Hitesburg Baptist and Bethel Hill, we'll see you tomorrow. Right now I'm going to visit with the puppies.
Friday, December 2
6:28 AM From the Christmas archives: Temples of Ceramic Deities.
6:25 AM Things aren’t looking good, economically, for the US, but is it really this bad? The answer is Yes.
When President Bush took office in 2000, the projected surplus for the U.S. government for the next decade was approximately $5 trillion. By fiscal year 2005 the surplus was entirely gone and the annual domestic deficits were at record levels, somewhere in the range of $350-450 billion depending on whose estimates you use. This is the most radical reversal of government finances in U.S. history. Today the national debt is approximately $7.9 trillion, and growing by over a billion a day.
6:22 AM We’re not the only Americans traveling to Ethiopia these days.
6:20 AM I’ve been doing some more thinking about leisure. By nature, I am a classic case of a “hang loose” mentality. Born and raised in Hawaii (the “Paradise of the Pacific”), my idea of work was waxing my surfboard before paddling out. When I moved to California, sports – not playing them, but watching them – became my passion (read: Lakers, Dodgers, and Rams). It was only when the Lord picked us up and moved us to the middle of the tobacco fields of North Carolina that I began to realize I had what C. S. Lewis called a “fatal flaw.” True, I had accomplished a lot – publishing, traveling, preaching – but that was because those activities came easily. I still “worked to live” – i.e., to lay back on the weekend. All that’s been changing. I owe the transformation to the Lord and to my wife, who is the hardest working, most self-disciplined, and yet most joyful person I know. I once read that the average man has a life span of 25,500 days. That’s 70 years, 840 months, 3640 weeks. At the age of 53, I’ve already used up two-thirds of my allotment. But, thank the Lord, the years are getting better and better.
6:14 AM Tom Ascol deftly identifies what’s wrong with “the hanging of the greens” in our churches. Those interested in church renewal, however, are asking “Where’s Christmas in the Bible?” A logical query.
6:10 AM The Fourteen Days of Homeschooling.
6:06 AM Over at Throwing the Word Stephen Morse updates us on his approach to Christmas and links to a frightening story about a teacher who committed the unpardonable sin – telling his students that Santa was make-believe.
6:04 AM Got this kind note yesterday:
I just came across your website today and read a few of your columns and had to take just a minute to say I appreciate your honesty and your commitment to the Word of God. I can’t describe how refreshing it is to read, what I would have written if I had your education and insight. God bless you and I look forward to reading much more.
Oh by the way, I read in your biography that you lived in southern Virginia, I knew there was another reason I liked your columns…I was raised in southeast Virginia, in and around Rocky Mount and
Martinsville. Thanks again for your website.
Mercy in Christ Alone,
I keep thinking, Lord, how good You are to me. How I delight in You and Your people.
6:00 AM Here’s one of many responses we've received to BeckyLynn’s essay on Christmas:
A big thanks to BeckyLynn for affirming in her Christmas article what the Holy Spirit has been prodding my conscience with for a long time. Namely, that even though we claim to remember "the reason for the season", the season often gets in the way of true intimacy with Christ. Last Christmas I mentioned in a message from Luke that manger scenes were somewhat of a mockery of the brutal reality of the actual manger, but I was convicted to a greater degree by BeckyLynn's unabashed call to view them as graven images. That is so true, we reminisce about the lights and wonderful manger scenes, and they become nothing less than idols. Thank you for prodding my family and I along to grow further in Christ, now the hard part is to interact graciously with the majority, sometimes our families included, who do not understand why we don't want "from Santa" on our children's presents, why we don't want to "deck the halls" or even that we don't want our boys to have innumerable presents.
Thursday, December 1
8:42 PM When I returned to my office after class tonight an unsigned envelope was in my mailbox. It contained $200 in cash for the church in Ethiopia. Amazing. If the giver is reading this, thank you.
8:25 PM Look at what awaited me when I got home tonight. And the baked potatoes were cooked to purrfection. Thanks, honey. You're the greatest.
6:34 AM News and Notes: BeckyLynn and I will be sharing about Ethiopia in two services this Sunday (Hitesburg Baptist Church in the morning, and Bethel Hill Baptist Church in the afternoon); for more information see our speaking schedule....This Friday and Saturday we'll be in Richmond for my New Testament class....Becky made blueberry muffins for my Greek students tonight; hopefully this will ease the pain of having a quiz and turning in an exam on the same evening....We leave for Ethiopia in 13 days.
6:23 AM The latest additions to our home page are:
6:18 AM Golden Gate Baptist Seminary announces openings in missions, pastoral care, and evangelism.
6:13 AM This was nice: Peter Head of Cambridge emailed me to say he mentioned an essay of mine in his blog.
Wednesday, November 30
8:34 PM Exciting papers again in Greek class. A big DBO thanks to Wil, Kenny, and Tyler. Met a wonderful Korean couple. They were surprised to hear that I have a Korean name. The wife said she would bring me some kim chi soon. Can't wait. I thoroughly enjoy the ethnic diversity on campus. BeckyLynn and Nathan were also busy today. The result of their labors -- 220 lbs of fresh, lean beef. Barbeque ribs for supper tomorrow night.
Coming tomorrow: Why we don't celebrate Christmas.
Tuesday, November 29
8:04 PM Just got home after a two hour drive in pouring rain. An accident closed down a major highway so I got to see parts of Granville County I had never been in before. A superb supper awaited me -- venison, along with potatoes from our son's farm and string beans from ours. The tomatoes came from a neighbor. Why is it that home-grown food always tastes better? It was great to be back on campus today after a two week hiatus. The papers presented in Advanced Greek Grammar were outstanding -- one on the discourse structure of Eph. 1:3-14, the other on the syntax of "deponent" verbs. Kudos Danny and Matthew for a great job. A few minutes ago Nathan invited us to his farm to enjoy his new fireplace. Warm fire, good book, fine company -- what more can a man ask for? If I were a poet I would wax eloquent about the agrarian life. There is nothing that I find quite so satisfying. But then again, I was born a century too late.
6:59 AM We don't "do" Christmas. But if we did, here's a gift I'd send to everyone I could.
6:55 AM Here are my thoughts on publishing in response to some graduate students I met at ETS.
1) If it's worth writing, it's worth publishing. This includes your masters thesis and doctoral dissertation. I have many colleagues who disagree. They feel that a student's writing should "mature" before he or she publishes. I disagree. My first journal article was based on my masters thesis. My first book was my doctoral dissertation. I encourage my students to begin publishing while in school -- and many do.
2) Review, review, review. Books, that is. It's the easiest way to get into print, and you get a free book besides. I began writing book reviews for journals such as the Grace Theological Journal, Criswell Theological Review, and JETS. I did this while I was a doctoral student. Later my reviews appeared in JBL and Novum Testamentum. At our school I ask my students to consider writing one review each year for our own journal, Faith and Mission.
3) Set goals. When I graduated from the U. of Basel in 1983 I prayerfully set the following goals: One book review every year, and one book every 5 years. I have exceeded these goals, mainly because I discovered how much I enjoy writing. If you aim at nothing you'll hit it every time. Don't be afraid to set goals -- and to set them high.
4) Respect the scholarly guild, but don't fear it. Go where angels fear to tread. My second book was on the integration of linguistics and New Testament Greek. It is still in print today in a second edition. What right did I have to write a book on linguistics? None whatsoever. But nobody else had written a book on New Testament Greek linguistics, I needed one for my classes, so I gave it a whack. It immediately opened the floodgates for others, more competent than myself, to write their own books on the subject.
5) Likewise, shoot for the stars. That is, send your articles to the better known journals. Why not? The worst they can say is No. That's how I got published in Biblica, New Testament Studies, and Novum Testamentum. If you think you can't, you won't.
6) Finally, consider publishing your own website. I believe more and more scholars will do this in the future. It's by far the cheapest and easiest way to get your ideas out to a wide audience -- literally overnight. And for me it costs a grand total of 8 dollars a month.
In short, if you are called to scholarship, you are called to writing. I have to smile whenever I meet someone who tells me, with great relief, "I finally finished my dissertation. Now I'll never have to write again!" Actually, the least important thing you will ever write is your dissertation. It is but the launching pad for a lifetime of research and writing -- or ought to be.
6:36 AM Don Carson makes this powerful statement about the apostle Paul and his love for the Thessalonian church:
Here is a Christian so committed to the well-being of other Christians, especially new Christians, that he is simply burning up inside to be with them, to help them, to nurture them, to feed them, to stabilize them, to establish an adequate foundation for them. Small wonder, then, that he devotes himself to praying for them when he finds he cannot visit them personally (A Call to Spiritual Formation, p. 81).
My wife and I feel exactly the same way about the church in Ethiopia.
Monday, November 28
5:10 PM A dreary day outside today. Nate and I kicked off early when the rain started. Still, we almost finished the fencing. At least both of the farm gates are now up. We just got word from Ethiopia that the church leaders there are working with customs officials in preparation for our arrival in Addis. This is great news. It should make it much easier for us to bring our equipment and materials into the country. We leave in 15 days.
Tonight for supper I'm cooking venison over a bed of Jasmine rice.
4:44 PM Monday shout-out to Miss Sherry Lan and her brother Joseph. Sherry is donating her laptop to the church in Burji. It will be used by the Bible school, the district office, and the rural evangelists as they come into town. Sherry named her laptop "Bog" ("Blessing of God") when she purchased it. Now she's sending Bog to Ethiopia.
4:39 PM Today BeckyLynn is finishing up sewing the satchels for the flannelgraph sets, attaching wiring to the back of the flannelgraph boards (so they can be hung on a tree or a wall), and putting the lesson plans into notebook binders. Then that project will be done. She's only had time to do the OT. It consists of 4 sets: Set 1 (Creation-Noah), Set 2 (Abram-Joseph), Set 3 (Moses-Joshua), and Set 4 (Life in the Land and out again...Judges, Dispersion). All of these sets "spring" from Hebrews 11 as a unifying theme. With each lesson she took a picture of the flannelgraph arrangement and wrote a "faith lesson." Each set takes about 2-3 months to teach through; so this is about a year's worth of teaching with weekly lessons. When we get there, we will have someone translate what BeckyLynn wrote into the tribal language. The notebook will then have the English, the pictures, and the tribal descriptions. When we return, she will do the NT: Set 5 (Life of Jesus), Set 6 (Life of the church), and Set 7 (Doctrines of the Epistles). These will either be mailed or taken on our next trip.
Here she is finishing the satchels.
4:36 PM This Sunday evening at 6:00 pm we will be back with our good friends at Bethel Hill Baptist Church in Roxboro, NC. We'll give a talk and present a visual display of what we are expecting in the way of ministry for the 5 weeks we'll be in Ethiopia.
8:22 AM Update: Due to unforeseen circumstances, the recently-launched Southeastern Seminary Blogs has been discontinued. I still believe such a site has great potential for bringing together the SEBTS blogging community. If you would like to organize it, please let me know.
8:17 AM Rebelution has published two fine essays on the myth of adolescence:
7:22 AM This email made our day:
Dear Dave and BeckyLynn,Good morning! We were so glad to see on the blog that everything is moving ahead for your departure in a few weeks. We are praying specifically about customs, your health leading up to the trip, and safety while you travel. We are so excited to hear about your time there. It will be hard to wait five weeks to hear about what has happened, but anticipation is half of the fun!Please know that you and the Ethiopians are in our thoughts and prayers.In Christ,S. and D.
7:12 AM What kind of American English do you speak? Here are my results:
Your Linguistic Profile:
|60% General American English|
|5% Upper Midwestern|
7:05 AM Yesterday I spent a long time answering emails from several dear friends (and some complete strangers) who are going through difficult times church-wise. It's amazing. When I was beginning my teaching career I would have had easy, pat answers to their questions. But that was 30 years ago. Now I keep pointing people back to the Scriptures. And weaning them from the words of mere men (like myself!). God bless all of you who write. I wish I had the answers to your dilemmas. But I do know the One who does. And so do you.
"O love that will not let me go, I rest my weary soul in Thee; I give Thee back the life I owe, that in Thine ocean depths its flow may richer, fuller be."
7:01 AM Did I mention my latest interest -- trees. My son has been teaching me how to recognize them. Now I can tell the difference between a maple and a cedar, a sweet gum and a locust. Poplars and dogwoods are another matter, though.
Sunday, November 27
5:31 PM I finished my series about the church from the book of Hebrews this morning. This will my last message at the Raleigh Chinese Christian Church for a while. After 30 some-odd messages during the past 4 years they probably need a break from me and, more importantly, I don't want to give them spiritual indigestion. It will be fun to see how the Lord Jesus leads them to make changes, if any, in light of the truths we've talked about. It's actually very exciting to be an itinerant Bible teacher and see how the various congregations are going through different stages of growth and maturation. RCCC is one of the best, and I wish all of my friends there the very richest of the Lord's blessings.
Looking forward to this week, I'll have an important announcement for my Richmond New Testament Introduction students, so stay tuned (I'll send the word out via email). In Advanced Greek Grammar my students will give their paper presentations this week, and in Beginning Greek I'll be introducing our final lesson for the semester. On the home front, I think Nathan and I can finish up the new pasture fencing tomorrow, weather permitting. Then we can open it up to the animals this winter.
In just 16 short days we leave Raleigh for Dulles, then Dulles for Frankfurt and Addis Ababa. For anyone who's interested, I'll be posting a detailed itinerary shortly so that you can be praying for us in-country. We've got a huge pile of things to pack in our 4 suitcases. I'm glad Becky has the gift of organization. I sure don't.
What a wonderful way to end the Lord's Day -- sitting here at my pooter writing to my cyber friends. We've been praying for many of you as you have shared with us your needs and burdens. I still can't believe how easily the Internet allows complete strangers to fulfill Gal. 6:2 on behalf of each other. I can remember 2 years ago wondering whether I should start a blog. I'm glad I did.
Have a great week in the Lord.
Saturday, November 26
4:55 PM A lesson in priorities from a yard full of leaves.
3:22 PM The Seven Deadly Sins of Blogging. I suppose # 4 is the one that bothers me the most. Blogging, as I have noted elsewhere, requires a bit of old-fashioned tenacity.
3:10 PM The Internet is a truly amazing place. I've been re-reading my favorite WW II escape story -- Free As a Running Fox -- and the author has just described how he and some other British POWs devised a plan to escape from the German castle in Spangenberg. Their main difficulty was going to be the scaling of the castle moat. I did a Google of "Spangenberg Castle" and, voila, found this picture of the moat:
Now I can visualize what they were up against.
2:36 PM Yesterday we received an email asking us how our trip to Ethiopia was shaping up. In case you're wondering the same thing, Becky's reply will bring you up to speed. And thanks for praying.
R. and K., thank you so much for writing! We're still amazed that our Lord puts us on people's hearts so that they want to share our burden of Ethiopia.
At this point, thru His grace, He has provided the funds for all the equipment, the eyeglasses, the flannelgraph, the Bibles & Study books. What we need now, if He directs you, are cash funds to carry with us...these funds will pay for customs (if He has any planned, which we are praying He won't), for gifts to the churches and for gifts to needy individuals. We've learned that we can never take too much cash. It seems He always has people in very dire situations that He brings to us in very supernatural ways. He has needs for us to meet that we are unaware of before we go. And gifting while we are there is much more cost-effective than wiring the funds after we return. It truly is an adventure to see what He has in store each day!So if He directs you, we could use more cash for these purposes. None of the monies given to us are used for our own personal needs (airfare, travel in country, food, etc.)....every penny goes to the Ethiopian believers (with the exception of the customs fee on equipment for the churches, if any).
Most of all, we need your prayers. If you have been keeping up with the news, the border with Eritrea is becoming more tense, and the political tensions between the people & the government are still very high. Our trip will be 5 weeks, 4 of which will be "in the bush" with no electricity, no running water, no toilets or outhouses (just bushes), very primitive cooking, impure drinking water, bedbugs/mosquitoes/snakes/rats at night, hiking from village to village, etc., etc. So please pray for physical strength so that we can fully do the spiritual work at hand. We are resting in His strength & are totally at peace with His sovereign control in all things. This is very definitely a SUPERNATURAL trip! And we can't wait to be with our Ethiopian family, whom we greatly love and whom you love through us! Please pray daily for His power to flow thru us to these precious ones!Thank you again for your love for us. May our Lord bless you for your kindnesses to us & the Ethiopians!
For His Kingdom, by His grace,
BeckyLynn2691 White House Road, Nelson VA 24580
2:25 PM When your worst enemies are your own friends.
2:18 PM An essay discusses the failure of youth ministry but offers no alternative. The Bible, however, is not so silent. In fact, it contains some amazing truths. I started questioning traditional youth ministry back in my Hawaiian days, when I was serving as a youth pastor! Anyway, here are some essays to get you started thinking through the biblical data if you haven't done so already. May the Lord bless your reading.
Friday, November 25
5:55 PM One more thing. God willing, in exactly three weeks from tonight Becky and I will be having dinner at our favorite restaurant in Addis with our eight Ethiopian sons: Bereket, Burji, Biruk, Worku, Samuel, Fasil, Ahmed, and Nigussie. I don't know if we'll be able to contain our happiness. Here's a snap taken at a dinner we enjoyed last summer, which four of our sons could attend:
Each of these young men is a unique blessing from the Lord. Fasil (bottom right) will accompany us during the four weeks we spend visiting the villages in the south. Ahmed (top right) and Nigussie (bottom left) will be our guides while we are ministering in their home province of Alaba (which is 95 percent Muslim). Samuel (top left) will be taking care of Bereket in Addis during his break from school. Together they will also spend a week in Samuel's home town of Hosanna. We will meet up with Burji and Worku during our two-week visit to Soyama (near Kenya). During our meal in three weeks, we will officially welcome our newest son to the family: Biruk. Biruk took first year Greek with me at the Evangelical Theological College last summer and did a marvelous job. The best part: Each of these young men knows, loves, and serves our Lord Jesus.
5:43 PM Dug more holes, set more posts. Got my ride in also. Trav was frisky -- just the way I like him. There's nothing like coming home after working up a good sweat on horseback. I haven't gotten much writing done, but putting up our fencing comes first. I'll have some thoughts on publishing soon, maybe tomorrow. Right now I'm too hungry to think much.
2:16 PM Came in to thaw out and get some lunch. It feels like 30 degrees out there. Becky prepared delicious home-made soup. Nice and hot. One whole section of fencing is now done -- including clearing, putting up woven wire and barbed wire, and tying the two together. We're quitting no later than 4:00 today. I'll go riding while Nathan goes hunting. Thankfully the farm is large enough for both activities.
7:55 AM I'm going for a ride later in the day, but right now I have more fencing to put up. Today's high will be about 40, with sunny skies. Good weather for work -- and play.
7:47 AM I am preparing my final talk from the great book of Hebrews. My message this Sunday will discuss what it means to go "outside the camp" with Jesus. That's a very powerful metaphor in light of today's success-driven churches. I hope I can present that truth simply yet powerfully.
7:40 AM Readers of this blog will recall us mentioning the situation on the Ethiopia-Eritrean border. Sadly, the tensions there are mounting daily. Please remember this situation before the throne.
7:37 AM Evangelical Textual Criticism has an interesting discussion of conjectural emendations in the New Testament, with reference made to the significant variant in Eph. 1:1. My study of that text may be found here (.pdf.). As for the legitimacy of conjectural emendation in New Testament studies per se, I have no "magic answers," but I do feel the best approach is to study proposed conjectures on a case-by-case basis, as I did several years ago in an essay on conjectures in the Gospel of Matthew (published in Novum Testamentum).
7:30 AM I had a great time at ETS talking with the publishers, including the folk at Eisenbrauns. Several years ago they were kind enough to publish the Harold Greenlee Festschrift. If you are interested in New Testament textual criticism, you might enjoy these essays from that volume:
See D. A. Black (ed.), Scribes and Scripture: New Testament Essays in Honor of J. Harold Greenlee (Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 1992).
7:23 AM Greek students! I like this overview of New Testament Greek resources.
7:18 AM Here's a nice study of Col. 1:15-20, written by a former Greek student of mine in California. Mr. Reyes, like most of the students at Simon Greenleaf University, was a professional who also loved reading and studying his Bible. Among the rhetorical devices he sees in this passage are chiasmus, inverted semantic chiasmus, polysyndeton, antithesis, inclusio, isocolon, paronomasia, parallelism, distributio, alliteration, anaphora, compactness, epanaphora, figures of speech, and repetition. Here's his colon analysis of the text:
7:02 AM Happy Thanksgiving Day! (Every day is Thanksgiving.)
Thursday, November 24
5:02 PM Just finished our work for the day. Perfect weather. Worked in shirt sleeves. Dug more holes at Nate's farm, set some posts (see below), cleared brush along the property line. Hope to put up the woven wire and barbed wire tomorrow and top off the posts. Bone tired, muscles ache, but all I can think of is how much I love farming and animals. Hope you're having a great day.
8:25 AM 19 days.
8:01 AM The latest addition to our home page is called From Serve Us to Service.
Wednesday, November 23
9:16 PM Just got back from our Thanksgiving service. Averett combined with three other area churches -- Union Chapel, Buffalo, Gravel Hill. Wonderful to see so many friends and neighbors. Great message from 1 Chron. 29 by brother Ernie Taylor. Ernie, by the way, is the youngest of 16 children. They grew up in a one-room house, 20 feet square.
Dug 29 post holes today. A farm record, I'm sure. Tomorrow we'll dig the rest and cut down cedar posts.
7:29 AM Michael Peroutka offers a sobering assessment of the abortion issue. An excerpt:
During these remarks, I also related my experiences during the campaign where men and women would wait a very, very long time just to thank me for being “pure” on the issue of protecting the life of the unborn. I tried to stress to those gathered that the Constitution Party’s “pure” approach to this issue is something that Americans are yearning for and that they appreciate. This is our proper place in the universe. This is the where God has placed us – “between the butcher and the baby”. This is our “row to plow”.
7:22 AM The motto over the entrance to Plato's Academy reads:
Ἀγεωμέτρητος μηδεὶς εἰσίτω
Ageōmetrētos mēdeis eisitō can be translated, "Let no one without a knowledge of geometry enter." I recall that at the University of Basel it was just assumed that students had a working knowledge of numerous subjects, including Greek and Latin. It's wonderful to see so many students on our campus eager to learn the languages. Many have had to overcome severe deficiencies in their previous schooling. To all of my pupils who are working so diligently over the break on their Greek take-home exam, hang in there and do well. I hope many of you get the 110 Award!
7:18 AM Southeastern Seminary Blogs is now up to three members. Many thanks to Brian Mann for organizing it. Here's the link:
7:15 AM It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood (as Mr. Rogers would say). Sunshine, high of 47. We'll finish the moldings and the painting at Nathan's farmhouse then get started on digging post holes. Nathan had the starter on his van replaced yesterday then couldn't get the van started last night, so it's back to the local repair shop. It's absolutely perfect weather for riding but the ground is still very soggy. May have to wait another day. Tonight we'll be having a combined service at one of our local churches. I've been gone for so many Sundays that it will be good
to see everyone again.
Tuesday, November 22
6:21 PM This is one of my favorite bibliobloggers. Can you guess why?
6:08 PM Happy Thanksgiving -- a couple of days early. The words of this hymn can be sung to the tune of "Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee." It's called "Lord We Thank Thee for the Pleasure."
Lord, we thank Thee for the pleasure
That our happy lifetime gives,
For the boundless worth and treasure
Of a soul that ever lives;
Mind that looks before and after,
Lifting eyes to things above;
Human tears, and human laughter,
And the depths of human love.For the thrill, the leap, the gladness
Of our pulses flowing free;
E’en for every touch of sadness
That may bring us nearer Thee;
But, above all other kindness,
Thine unutterable love,
Which, to heal our sin and blindness,
Sent Thy dear Son from above.Teach us so our days to number
That we may be early wise;
Dreamy mist, or cloud, or slumber,
Never dull our heav’nward eyes.
Hearty be our work and willing,
As to Thee, and not to men;
For we know our soul’s fulfilling
Is in Heav’n, and not ’til then.
Incidentally, for years Becky (who is descended from William Bradford) has written a Thanksgiving hymn that we sing just before eating. It recounts the blessings of the past year. It has become a wonderful family tradition.
5:48 PM Had a fairly uneventful day. Helped Nathan with the molding around his new chimney and stacked some lumber in a corner of our horse barn. Nice serendipity: Checked my emails and saw this one from a believer who shares my interest in the Anabaptists:
Dear Brother Black,
I just recently ran upon your website while doing a google search on 'Christianity and Americanism".Over the past several years the Lord has been taking my husband and me through a re-education of practical, real and relational Christianity. Although we have always homeschooled, we are now rediscovering homechurching, simple/relational and biblical church life. Much of your articles reflect these challenges. However, most recently (and partly due to having to teach my children American history), I have been concerned how 'out of sinc' my education of Christian America is with New Testament teaching and practice. I read your article, "The Anabaptists and State Religion", with a resounding, "Amen". I've recently been studying the teachings of the Anabaptists. The marriage of Christianity and Americanism is so intertwined in most American believers that to disentangle ourselves from our false ideals and patriotism is very difficult and painful. Yet I continue to do so at the distress of losing friends and family who believe I've jumped off the deep end!Another great is website, http://www.searchingtogether.org/ by Jon Zens.
Continuing to learn and grow,
A sister in Christ,
Meanwhile, Becky continues plugging away at her flannelgraph project. I think she finished Samson today. She is typing up a full description of each scene and taking a picture as well. All of this will be downloaded on the laptops we'll be taking to Ethiopia. Becky has the energy and the dedication of a Proverbs 31 woman -- and then some. She is something else.
12:56 PM I was hunting around for a book title on the Moody website and saw that the Moody Bible Institute is seeking a chairperson for its Bible Department.
11:39 AM Quick note: The ground is a little too wet to work outside much today so I'm on the computer getting licenses from publishers for our latest CD project. It will contain another 100 books for Ethiopian pastors, including my New Testament introduction and several other Bible study tools. This CD will also focus on helps for reaching Muslims for Christ.
11:28 AM George Fox University in Newberg, Oregon has just announced an opening inReligious Studies.
11:23 AM Did you know that 70 percent of politicians who claim to be Catholic in Congress and the Senate support abortion? That figure reaches almost 90 percent in traditional Catholic states such as Massachusetts or New York. John Kerry is not the only example. Read what one Catholic archbishop is saying about it.
8:51 AM In case you haven't heard, Messiah Baptist Church in Wake Forest has a new weblog. I like what I see.
8:20 AM Just ran across this spectacular photo of a sunset at Sunset Beach on the North Shore of Oahu. If that doesn't bring back memories....
8:16 AM Noteworthy articles: Misconceptions about biblical agrarianism...a critique of theemergent church...teaching Ethiopians democracy.
8:07 AM I'm writing this as I look out on the rain-drenched earth. God has graciously sent us several inches of much needed precipitation, and the ponds are slowly filling up again. The rain will also help us dig post holes later in the week, as I'd like to get another field fenced in before I leave for Africa.
8:02 AM Week after week we continue to receive gifts for the Lord's work in Ethiopia. Yesterday we were visiting with a homeschooling family of 10 that we met during a reenactment in NC. When we were about to leave the children presented us with an envelope. They had opened their piggy banks and collected $121.00. Their gift will go a long ways toward meeting needs and spreading the Good News. Again, we are very appreciative to every one of you who is praying and giving.
Monday, November 21
7:15 AM Here are some good agrarian blogs:
God bless all of you who are trying your hand at homesteading. It's a great life.
By the way, yesterday Nathan sold 6 laying hens to a lady who just moved to the area from New York. She purchased 8 acres of land, doesn't know anybody, and has only her computer to help her. She read Nathan's advertisement about Rosewood Farm on the Internet.
7:12 AM Around the house we're counting down the days until we leave for Africa. Okay, so I'm the only one counting down the days, but we're all excited about our Ethiopian Adventure Part Three. Just over three weeks away now. Becky and I are very grateful for the many expressions of love and words of encouragement as we prepare for our trip.
7:10 AM I'm still going through a stack of emails, but this one immediately caught my eye:
Thank you for taking the time to write your blog as it is such an encouragement. I read your blog today and wanted to respond to your question. The reason I read your blog on a daily basis is because I know I will be challenged by something I have read. I find your blog challenging on many levels and on different topics. I usually read your blog first thing in the morning and then ponder and discuss what I've read throughout the day.The girls and I also enjoy the personal aspect of the blog, we all feel like we know you, Becky Lynn and Nathan. The chimney looks great, by the way. I have read some blogs that are just chit chatty, but tend to loose interest in those quickly....About the animals, you are right. We have a small zoo in our small house with 2 dogs, 3 birds, 3 mice and 2 iguanas. They all bring joy and entertainment to our lives. Their personalities are so varied which makes them more interesting.Thanks for all that you do in the service or our Lord! We are praying for you all as you prepare to leave. We will miss you while you are gone, I guess that will give me the opportunity to read a lot of your articles.For the cause of Christ,L.
What an email. If anyone wonders if I think blogging is worth the time and effort, this letter just about says it all.
7:05 AM Oswald Sobrino wants to know why young people today aren't learning ancient Greek and Latin. Read his answer in Dumbing Down Education.
7:00 AM I enjoyed speaking German with Harold Hoehner at ETS. (Harold is a Swiss citizen.) Here's a excellent site on learning conservational German. Ph.D. students take note! An active (speaking) knowledge of German will help you tremendously with your reading knowledge of the language. For the rest of us, here are some simple German phrases that are fun to learn.
Sunday, November 20
6:23 PM A reader sent me this photo of Mount Saint Helens. Unbelievable.
6:15 PM Wise words from my friend Craig Blomberg of Denver Seminary about the use of honorific titles such as "reverend" and "minister":
But one wonders how often these titles are used without implying unbiblical ideas about a greater worth or value of the individuals to whom they are assigned. One similarly wonders for how long the recipients of such forms of address can resist an unbiblical pride from all the plaudits. It is probably best to abolish most uses of such titles and look for equalizing terms that show that we are all related as family to one Heavenly Father (God) and one teacher (Christ).... In American Christian circles perhaps the best goal is to strive for the intimacy that simply makes addressing one another on a first-name basis natural (The New American Commentary: Matthew, Vol.22 [Nashville, TN: Broadman Press, 1992] p.343).
6:06 PM We went to war against Saddam Hussein on the grounds that he had stockpiles of chemical weapons. Then we turn around and use incendiary bombs on Iraqis. This is hypocrisy. Two hundred years ago our Founding Fathers banned "cruel and unusual punishment." And now Congress is debating whether to ban the use of torture on detainees. We are a confused nation.
5:49 PM Wallo World wants to know if blogging is inherently negative. I check a number of blogs every day. Many of them challenge me -- and bring encouragement. It reminds me that the Internet is a great way to multiply one's ministry. I get emails from people who say they read my blog every morning and are disappointed when I haven't blogged by 8:00 am. It is enjoyable, isn't it?
A question for those of you who read weblogs daily: What makes them so attractive to you? Is the statement "Content is king" still true?
5:40 PM Yesterday I received this email:
Dear Dr. Black,
Thank you so much for the prompt reply in reference to the textual variant in Luke 4:4. If you don't mind at this point, could you please direct me to where I can ascertain scholarly publications and related materials on the textual variant "Cainan" in Luke 3:36? I'm interested in studying
works that discuss the authenticity of that name, both pro and con in Luke's Gospel. Any assistance you can provide in this regard would be sincerely appreciated.
Sincerely in Jesus Christ,
Here was my response:
Thank you for writing, Jeffrey. Here are some links to get you started. Happy reading! Dave Black
5:36 PM Just spent a wonderful hour and a half with my animals. It was refreshing in every way. There is no better entertainment. I used to watch sports, but now I find life much more enjoyable. Our orphaned goats Snowball and Midnight still like cuddling with me, while Rusty our billy thinks he needs to butt heads with me constantly. I especially like spending time with Traveler. I think he misses Cody. I know I do. I need to get as many rides in as possible before we leave for Africa. And then there are the dogs. No more faithful friends on the planet. Enjoy your animals while you have them!
Saturday, November 19
5:44 PM News and Notes: No riding today. Had to bottle feed the calves and guard the hens from hunting dogs.... Tomorrow I'll be speaking on church leadership from Hebrews 13. I hope to have a 15-minute Q & A session after I speak.... Becky and I are going shoe shopping in Durham, NC after church. We both desperately need some good walking shoes. We plan to trek a good many miles into the bush while in Ethiopia.... Got a great email from Bereket in Addis Ababa, who reports that he is now the official messenger boy at the Christian college where he is staying. This in addition to watering plants, etc. He is developing a wonderful servant's heart. I only wish I could learn Amharic as quickly as he is learning English.... Becky just reported that the meatloaf and potatoes are in the oven. Gotta run and get ready for supper.
5:04 PM It was neat to be familiar with the layout of the ETS convention hotels: the Radisson and the Scanticon. My family I were there last year to attend the Constitution Part National Convention. Great speakers -- Michael Peroutka, Chuck Baldwin, John Lofton, Howard Phillips, and others. Great platform. Great vision for America. At what other political convention can you get to hear a "convention sermon"? The CP convention had one, and I was honored to give it. Is the CP being blessed of the Lord? I believe so. Idealistic? You bet. Discouraged because of lack of "progress"? No way. The Lord is on His sovereign throne and still laughs at man's puny attempts to play God. No need for discouragement here. So back to constitutional government! Chins up and knees down!
12:47 PM My favorite paper at ETS was by Wayne Grudem on how to alleviate poverty in the third world. His lecture was well-organized and flawlessly presented. My colleague Maurice Robinson also did an outstanding job. I was thankful for the presenters who provided handouts (as did both Wayne and Maurice). The conference was live-blogged, I believe -- which makes this ETS meeting historic. The poorest papers were those that rehashed the same old same old. I am going to suggest to the leadership that papers be better screened (even adjudicated prior to acceptance, as with journal submissions to JETS). In two sessions I attended the scheduled speaker failed to show up.
The best part of the meeting was, well, "meeting" with people. I found that busy scholars were willing to talk with just about anybody, and I saw "large fish" eagerly sharing with "small fries." The organizational aspects of the meeting were outstanding, and for this we can thank Jim Borland. The spirit of the event was also great (thanks to the Holy Spirit) -- very little rancor unlike some past meetings. Only God can do that. I had hoped that we could vote on the definition of inerrancy but it looks like that matter has been tabled until we meet in DC next year. I especially enjoyed meeting so many teachers who for whatever crazy reason use my textbooks in their courses. I received some great suggestions for revising my beginning Greek grammar, and some younger scholars were even willing to rethink the patristic evidence for Matthean priority. Last but certainly not least, that Deluxe Bacon Cheeseburger at Bennigan's was out of this world.
I would give the conference 4 stars ****.
12:14 PM Today I wrote an email to one of our Ethiopian sons asking how Mohamed was doing. You may recall that I met with Mohamed in prison in Alaba last summer. He is serving a prison term for murdering an 18-year-old believer (whose family is pictured below). In Hebrews 13:3 God tells us to "remember those who are in prison...." I think "remembering" is a key. If we remember, God will show us what to do when we get to Ethiopia. If we forget, there is nothing God can do through us. If you think of it (or "remember" it), please say a prayer for Mohamed today. Pray, too, for this family who has decided to remain in their Muslim village as a testimony to the love and forgiveness of Jesus.
11:57 AM Got into a good conversation with a student at ETS about church leadership. He and I see many parallels between church leadership and marriage. As a husband, I lead by serving. To be first I have to be last. John MacArthur puts it this way: "The husband who demands his wife's submission to him but does not recognize his own obligation to submit to her distorts God's standard for the marriage relationship" (Ephesians, p. 278). As husbands, we need to put our own likes, desires, preferences, and welfare aside to please our wives and meet their needs. This is how Christ loved the church (see Phil. 2:5-9) and, after all, He is the head of our homes (or should be).
In that light, here's a definition of biblical headship: The divine calling to take primary (though not sole) responsibility for Christ-like, servant leadership, protection, and provision in the home. Wow. If that doesn't make you want to put your nose on the carpet and cry out for grace, nothing will.
11:48 AM I'd like to get in a ride this afternoon. Maybe, maybe not. It's WW III out there. Yes, hunting season has officially begun.
11:43 AM 24 days until we leave for Ethiopia. So far, so good. The big project (perhaps "huge" would be a better word) is organizing the flannelgraph. I think Becky is also going to start packing us next week. The big question: What to take and what to leave behind? We still receive many emails of encouragement. Thank you. Full steam ahead!
11:40 AM CNS News is reporting that Planned Parenthood has hired a Log Cabin Republican to head up its Republican outreach service. This should neither surprise us nor shock us. The goal of the GOP has long been inclusivity.
11:33 AM Attention all SEBTS bloggers! Got this great email from Brian Mann:
Dr. Black, I have set up an aggregator athttp://groups.blogdigger.com/groups.jsp?id=2510.... People can email me and I can add them...; below is a link code for bloggers to put on their sites if they wish; just copy and add to side bar;<a href="http://groups.blogdigger.com/groups.jsp?id=2510">SoutheasternSeminary Blogs</a>In Christ,Brian Mann
If you're a Southeastern blogger I hope you'll consider joining. You can email Brian at hiswebsite.
Friday, November 18
9:28 PM Very exciting meeting in Valley Forge this week. Detailed update tomorrow. Some quick impressions:
1) It was great to see old friends and to make many new ones. One colleague whom I hadn't seen in over 8 years said he recognized me because someone had told him, "Just look for Robert E. Lee." That made my day.
2) SEBTS Ph.D. students were particularly well represented. We have a great bunch of guys. More on them later.
3) I'm working 4 book projects with various publishers. Where else can you see all of them together in one place? Makes going to ETS worthwhile just for that reason.
4) Papers blew hot and cold, as usual for an ETS meeting. Tomorrow I'll share with you the good, the bad, and the ugly.
5) The reading of the obituaries was especially moving. We lost many good friends this past year, many in their 50s.
6) The weather was perfect for an event like this, and the fall foliage in eastern Pennsylvania was outstanding.
Thanks to all of you who wrote saying you missed us. I'll have more tomorrow, but right now it's time to get caught up with my family (and dogs). God bless you all.
Tuesday, November 15
7:49 AM If you live in the North Star state, don't forget the annual meeting of the Constitution Party of NC on Saturday, November 19. For more information, you can go to the party'swebsite and click on the Event Calendar.
7:43 AM Lately I have been receiving a large number of emails from former students of mine. Some of them are in traditional church settings, others are planting new congregations in such faraway places as Ukraine. All are excited about their future and grateful for their education. It was a reminder to me of the great privilege that is mine to be involved in training the next generation of church servants. God bless each and every one of you.
7:40 AM Looks like the weather in Valley Forge will be temperate. They're even calling for 70 degrees tomorrow with light rain. This is good news to a kid from the beaches of Hawaii. I can recall other ETS/SBL meetings where we had to fight snow flurries to get from the hotel to the convention center. Below: "Prayer at Valley Forge."
7:35 AM Just heard from Wilfried Dehn in Schoemberg, Germany. I hadn't heard from him in years and received a letter (snail mail) from him yesterday. I first met Wilfried in Stuttgart a few years ago. I was teaching a two-week course at the Freie Hochschule für Mission and he invited me to visit his school -- the seminary of the Liebenzell-Mission in beautiful Bad Liebenzell. His letter reminded me of the wonderful work that his mission has done in sending out German missionaries worldwide, including Africa. Wilfried spent a lifetime preparing men and women for this work. May the Lord continue to bless the ministry of the Liebenzell-Mission.
7:29 AM I am glad to see the situation in Addis Ababa improving. But the situation on the border with Eritrea is still volatile. Please continue to pray for the peace of Ethiopia.
7:24 AM Speaking of the difference between patriotism and nationalism, Mark Twain has this good thought:
Loyalty to the country always.
Loyalty to the government when it deserves it.
Monday, November 14
7:58 PM One final thought -- or two -- about this wonderful day. A few minutes ago it started raining, big time. Is it just a "coincidence" that we finished the chimney this afternoon? I don't think so. Also, it was great riding again today. I used to ride three or four times a week. Hard riding. Cross country riding. Jumping logs and creeks. Kept me in pretty good shape, too. Nowadays I spend most of my "spare" time working on the numerous projects we have going on at the farm. Funny thing is, I enjoy doing this work every bit as much as I enjoy riding. Both are good, healthy activities. I tell Nathan, "Doing all this work will either get me into great shape or kill me." He jokes, "Dad, it may do both." I will say this, however. I do smile more when I'm riding than when I'm hauling bricks or mortar up a ladder onto a roof. It's simply because one activity comes more easily for me than the other. I remember when I was just learning to ride my hot-blooded horses and how many "unplanned dismounts" I had. Today it would be almost impossible to fall off a horse. All this to say: I really enjoyed working with you on the chimney project, Nate. I believe it was well worth the effort, and you were a blast to work with. I hope your home stays warm for many, many winters to come as you raise your future family there.
Now, on to our next project!
7:38 PM This is sweet. In the photos Nathan took today I just noticed this one. They are none other than our two puppies, Shiloh and Sheba. What makes Shelties so cute?
7:25 PM Here's a family who is moving to the country -- "going rural," as they put it. Far and away one of the best websites on rural living is Backwoods Home Magazine. I recommend it to everyone I know. I recall that when we first moved to rural North Carolina from Southern California Time Magazine has just run a major story on ex-urbanites. The most interesting part of the story, for me, was to learn about the large number of ex-urbanites who were moving back to the suburbs because they found out they couldn't handle country living after all. As with everything, it takes time to adjust. So hang in there and keep on doing what you are doing -- serving the people around you. You'll soon feel like you've lived there forever. I'm happy for you and wish you the very best.
7:19 PM This is a bit dated, but Daniel Pipes shows how Europe is slowly becoming Muslim. The sobering conclusion:
Current trends suggest Islamization will happen, for Europeans seem to find it too strenuous to have children, stop illegal immigration, or even diversify their sources of immigrants. Instead, they prefer to settle unhappily into civilizational senility.
4:55 PM Stop the presses! Sound the trumpets! The Lord allowed us to finish the chimney today. Praise be to Him. I think Nathan did a splendid job, don't you? And what an assistant he had!
With the chimney done, I had time to ride again. It was great to saddle up Traveler today.
My frisky steed needed a good airing out. Here he is cantering. His gait is so smooth you can't feel a thing.
My Thoroughbred and I have an understanding. I take good care of him, and he takes good care of me. Here he gets some richly deserved oats after riding. So you think I'm crazy about horses? Who, moi?
7:24 AM Chad Degenhart documents the benefits of farming. He makes a point worth pondering: Our lifestyle, whether active or sedentary, is a choice.
6:59 AM In my sermon yesterday I mentioned some ways we can honor Christ's supremacy in our churches. Here's an article that discusses the exalted status of Christ and its implications for Body Life: Church Leaders and the Use of Honorific Titles.
6:53 AM Martin Luther wrote way back in 1524:
In the measure that we love the Gospel, let us place a strong emphasis on the languages. For it was not without reason that God wrote the Scriptures in two languages, the Old Testament in Hebrew and the New Testament in Greek.... It is a sin and a shame that we do not learn the languages of our Book.
If you are a pastor-teacher and feel you need a boost with the languages, I've written a little book that might help.
6:49 AM This evening at 7:00 pm Becky and I will be sharing our Ethiopian ministry with the WMU of Union Chapel Baptist Church. Actually, one of the ladies of the church is opening her home -- in the spirit of New Testament hospitality.
Sunday, November 13
5:59 PM Just arrived back at Bradford Hall. What a day it's been. Nate and I almost finished the chimney work on his roof. Then it got dark. If the rain can hold off for one more day, I believe we can finish tomorrow. Had a great meeting at the Raleigh Chinese Christian Church this morning. I spoke from Hebrews 3:1-6 about the need to exalt Christ over every human leader. It is Christ's status as Son over the house that makes Him superior to Moses, who is a son in the house. This truth can be fleshed out in a number of ways. The following ideas came to mind:
1) Obey Jesus' command (Matthew 23) and rid ourselves of honorific titles. We are all "brothers" (Heb 3:1), we are all ministers, and we are all priests.
2) Honor the One who said "I will build My church" by constructing it according to His pattern. Jesus and the apostles arranged the church so that it would be impossible for anyone to ask "Which church do you attend?" and "Who is your senior pastor?" The people are the church, and the senior pastor is Jesus Himself.
3) Restore a biblical emphasis upon every-member ministry. This means that our services must be more participatory than they are now, with both formal and informal teaching.
4) Emphasize, with Paul (1 Cor. 14:26), that we gather not to worship but to edify one another. Worship is (or ought to be) 24/7. Even the mention of "songs, hymns, and spiritual songs" (Col. 3:16) is done in the context of "teaching and admonishing one another."
5) "We are His house" (Heb. 3:6) is a reminder that our physical plants (home, rented room, church building, or whatever) are merely places for the Body to meet for edification. Let's repent of our spending billions of dollars annually in the U.S. on "sanctuaries" to honor the One who said that He does not dwell in houses made with human hands.
I was so excited when the moderator asked me (with a twinkle in his eye) to conclude the "edification service" with a benediction. I'll be continuing my messages from Hebrews the next two Sundays.
5:50 PM Chip Bayer notes the differences between patriotism and nationalism (aka neo-patriotism) in this blog entry. Here are my thoughts:
True patriotism is love of country, not love of government. Neo-patriotism is mindless worship of the state.
True patriots refuse to honor government above God. Neo-patriots gladly deify government.
True patriots understand loyalty as adherence to the ideals upon which the country was founded. Neo-patriots believe in blind submission to the bureaucrats currently running it.
True patriots believe that eternal vigilance is necessary to keep politicians under check. Neo-patriots are willing to entrust their lives to politicians thinking this means loyalty to the ideals spelled out in the Constitution.
True patriots believe in the old Constitution heart and soul and abhor all but the most limited and narrowly defined forms of taxation because they believe their money belongs to them and that the federal government only needs enough funding to perform its few, narrowly defined, constitutional duties. Neo-patriots don’t mind sacrificing most of their earnings to unelected bureaucrats, nor do they mind relying on Washington for a host of taxpayer-funded benefits.Neo-patriots think that if you criticize U.S. foreign policy or the country’s obsession with security you are “unpatriotic.”
True patriots believe that the exercise of critical judgment is absolutely necessary to any civilization that is to stand or forge ahead, and that it is both their right and duty to criticize their government. They concur with President TheodoreRoosevelt:Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the President or any other public official save exactly to the degree in which he himself stands by the country.
I pray that the Lord Jesus might reawaken a spirit of true patriotism among His people in this great land of ours.
9:11 AM Here's a new blog by a recent Southeastern grad. NB: You'll be reading Korean.
분주한 한주가 가고 벌써 금요일이다.
토요일과 주일은 더 바쁘겠지.
토요일과 주일은 더 바쁘겠지.
7:20 AM The DBO Blog is two years old today. Special thanks to all our readers for their encouragement and prayers. You're simply the greatest.
7:18 AM Got an email recently from a tired, overworked student. I want to remind him (and us) that God never forgets what we do for Him. To paraphrase the author of Hebrews: "God is not unjust; He will not forget your work and the love you have shown Him as you have helped His people and continue to help them." Take heart today.
7:15 AM Tuesday afternoon I fly to Philly to attend ETS in Valley Forge. I'm looking forward to rooming with an old friend, Rick Fairman. Rick is a professor of theology at Lancaster Bible College. I enjoyed teaching there a couple of years ago as a guest professor.... On my last visit to Valley Forge I attended a Wednesday evening prayer service at a small Baptist church almost next door to the encampment site. I hope to do the same this Wednesday.... The weather in Pennsylvania promises to be cold and wet. Better get out my old Basel overcoat.... I'll take two book ideas with me to ETS. It's a great chance to visit with the various publishers. I'll also be talking with Broadman & Holman about the revision of my beginning grammar.... The best part of ETS is seeing old friends. In fact, sometimes the only time I have to be with my own seminary colleagues is at ETS. Odd but true. Should be a fun week. I return on Friday.
7:04 AM The World Scrabble Championships start in London this week. Question: When you play Scrabble, do you ever modify the rules and allow foreign words?
Saturday, November 12
6:44 PM 31 days and counting.
6:34 PM Looking ahead to tomorrow, I want to bring a message on Heb. 3:1-6 and the comparison of Christ to Moses. The difference between Christ and Moses was not one of faithfulness but status. One point I'll be stressing: You don't have to put someone down to build someone else up.
6:25 PM Just a heads up: I'm working with a student on putting together an aggregator of Southeastern Seminary bloggers. Our number is growing weekly. More later.
6:21 PM Now here's a neat family tradition.
6:17 PM Becky and Nathan went to South Boston to get some more ladders. Without them, working on the roof is just too dangerous. Still, we made some good headway today on the chimney. I'm glad Nate doesn't have his dad's acrophobia.
5:59 AM This was sweet:
Dear Dr Black, You refresh my soul, thank you!
What a way to start your day.
5:54 AM Just read a great essay about intelligent design over at the Burning Bush. It seems that science (so-called) can be just as close-minded as New Testament scholarship. Why should we be so fearful of examining the data for what they are? Let the facts speak for themselves, and then go where the evidence leads you. As Francis Schaeffer reminded us, you don't have to put your brain in park or neutral when you become a believer in Jesus. As Dr. Bush says:
Science should not be the maidservant to religion. Science should be the servant of truth. If religion is true, as I believe Christian Faith is (but not necessarily other religious claims, and I am somewhat selective even within Christianity), then science by serving truth will serve Christian Faith. If my faith needs to be revised, then science might show the way, but Science should be just as open minded. Truth should rule in science and in faith.
5:38 AM Tomorrow I begin a three-part series at the Raleigh Chinese Christian Church.
5:30 AM This is it. The last cutting of hay for the year. Good, horse quality fescue-orchard grass, with a touch of clover. This is all the Lord's provision. Praise be to God.
"They rejoiced before You/According to the joy of harvest" (Isa. 9:3).
Today our goal is to finish the chimney on the roof. Can they do it? Will they make it? Stay tuned....
5:22 AM Greek students! Here's a site by Dr. Gary Martin that features our beginning grammar. You can even click on phrases and listen to Greek being read aloud. Here are some sentences for practice:
Let me know how well you did.
Friday, November 11
6:32 PM Just spent a few moments over at John Leone's blog and saw this great quote.
It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people's minds.
I'll have a lot more to say about the "don't waste your vote on a third party" fallacy in the very near future.
6:04 PM We have been receiving encouraging news from Ethiopia. A partial calm has returned to the streets, and some businesses have reopened. The authorities have released over 2400 detainees, but many others are still under arrest. Tragically, one of the security guards at the Evangelical Theological College (where I taught last summer) was killed. Please pray for his family.
5:53 PM Mr. Alan Knox just emailed me a link to the Reuters image of the Megiddo inscription. This allowed me to correct my November 3 entry. Thank you, Alan. (Alan, the Greek letter nu you asked about is treated here.)
5:19 PM How about a high five for Nathan? We're finally through the roof!
5:13 PM Just received this great email:
Brother Black,I greatly enjoyed reading the article you linked to concerning the use of the American flag in our churches today. My family as well as the family we home church with has talked over similar issues many times. A related topic that is a hot spot with us is the singing of patriotic songs in our "worship" services at church. During the church service, we are to be worshipping God, yet people often elevate the status of our country in their minds to being equal with God by singing songs to our country. In many churches, the Sunday service for the Fourth of July consists of singing patriotic songs as opposed to hymns. How does the fact that it's the birthday of America makes it acceptable to worship our country when we are gathered to worship the Lord? Most churches in America today are in a sad state, placing love of country on equal terms with loving the Lord.Thank you for so faithfully updating your blog. I enjoy reading everything you post, and often find it though-provoking and encouraging. I also find the links to Greek resources very helpful and fascinating. God bless you and your family!In Christ,Lindsay K.My blog: http://lindsay.masterskey.org/
I agree with you completely about those hymns, Miss Lindsay. Thanks so much for writing.
7:27 AM Matthew McDill has been learning some lessons of the cross from the life of Watchman Nee.
Brothers, if people trust us, there is no need to explain; if people do not trust us, there is no use in explaining.
7:20 AM I really appreciate Wayne Leman's desire to see our Bible translations both accurate and readable:
The constant lesson to be learned from each example of meaningless translation in any English version is that translators of that version need to step back from it to think about whether or not their wording communicates anything to fluent English speakers. They can also be helped empirically, if they test their translation wordings with scientifically representative samples of good speakers of the language, to discover what they understand from their translation wordings. Any wording which communicates little, if anyone, cannot, by definition, be accurate. Only accurate translations communicate the meaning of the biblical text to translation users.
7:11 AM The Koller's Cottage has just published a wonderful testimony to the sufficiency of Christ when stretching one's dollars. You can read it here. And thank you, Mrs. Koller, for the marvelous example you are setting for other women.
6:57 AM What do the Home School Legal Defense Association, the National Black Home Educators Resource Association, Considering Homeschooling Ministry, and Homeschool Headquarters all endorse? Homeschooling Family to Family, of course. It's an idea whose time has come.
Homeschooling Family to Family asks us to extend the hand of Christian fellowship as a home-schooling mentor to help a new family set aside personal fears and begin to home school. We want to encourage seasoned home schoolers to mentor at least one family per year by reaching out to relatives and friends and by helping them take the first step into home schooling! As experienced home schoolers, we can transform those inevitable kitchen-table and backyard conversations into positive home schooling outreach. And, in some cases, mentoring a new family into home schooling will become an opportunity to share the Gospel of Christ.
6:50 AM A reader sent me a link to this superb essay on flying the American flag in our "sanctuaries." Please read it carefully and prayerfully. Then shuffle over to the Founders Blogfor Tom Nettles' comments on soul competency. Here's one of his key conclusions:
Soul competency frees the church from the impurity of an improper nationalism.
6:45 AM Why Republican Jerry Kilgore is not Virginia’s next governor:
The lesson for the Virginia GOP is clear: go back to your base. You alienate your base, you lose. After years of disingenuous pro-life statements, drunken-sailor spending binges, and last year’s billion-dollar tax increase, the Virginia GOP reaped what it sowed. It sowed a divided message, and it reaped a divided base.
The result? A pro-abort big-spending Democrat. There’s a better option for all true conservatives. Read its platform and you’ll see why.
6:41 AM One wonders why more Christians don’t consider deschooling their children. This essay by Joe Turtel may strike some as a bit overheated, but the kitchen is getting mighty toasty out there. Turtel argues that reaching children with truth is imperative, not optional. A nugget:
School authorities force millions of children to sit in boxes called classrooms with 20 other children-inmates for six to eight hours a day, five days a week, for up to ten years. The children must obey the adult education wardens (teachers and principals), who they may fear or dislike. They must study subjects they may hate or that bore them to death. They must associate only with other children their same age who may be bullies, violent, or emotionally disturbed. They must do homework and study for tests they must pass or be left back in school.
The children are removed from their loving parents and put under the control of teacher-wardens who may not love them, care for them, or simply even have the time to pay attention to them. They are stopped from being free-spirited child. They are told to keep quiet. They are told to obey the rules. They are told to march from classroom cell to classroom cell every 50 minutes to study different subjects that may mean nothing to them.
UPDATE: Just received word that Lee Shelton has jumped on the homeschooling bandwagon too. His final sentence says it all.
6:32 AM Has Solomon’s Hebrew alphabet been discovered?
6:30 AM The Bibel Blog is reporting that the new edition of the Zürcher Bibel has apparently been delayed. (By the way, don’t you enjoy those examples of Germlish – “geupdated”?).
Die neue Zürcher Bibel, anvisiert für Herbst 2005, lässt ebenfalls auf sich warten, die entsprechende Seite wurde noch nicht wieder geupdated, auch taucht die Neuausgabe noch in keinen Buchlisten auf.
No doubt the issue of gender will be hotly debated once the Bible is published:
Im Jahr 2000 sagte die Zürcher reformierte Kirchensynode Ja zu einer Frauenlesegruppe, um feministischen Anfragen Rechnung zu tragen. Ihre Euphorie habe im Lauf der Zeit einer gewissen Bescheidenheit Platz gemacht, sagte Pfarrerin Angela Wäffler von der Gruppe. Diese hat erreicht, dass im Neuen Testament, wenn von Propheten die Rede ist, Prophetinnen an manchen Stellen mitgenannt werden. Mit den Brüdern werden die Schwestern erwähnt, mit den Söhnen auch die Töchter Gottes.
Die Frauen haben auch an der althergebrachten Übersetzugender ng des zentralen griechischen Worts ‚kyrios’ mit ‚Herr’ gerüttelt, aber keine befriedigende Alternative aufzeigen können. In der Endphase der Arbeit am Text wirken sie, wie Angela Wäffler sagte, auf eine „vorsichtige, moderate Anpassung der Übersetzung an feministische Anliegen“ hin. Über den Text entscheiden endgültig die Übersetzungskommissionen.
6:23 AM If you know of anyone who will be live-blogging at ETS next week, please let me know.
6:22 AM Ouch, this hurts!
6:18 AM Without attempting to join the navel gazers out there who are trying to say what a blog should or should not be, I remain curious about what others are thinking, and this essaylays out the issues nicely. In my judgment, whether or not “blog” is ever defined will make no difference to most bloggers in the end.
6:11 AM If you’re one who still cares about things like casus belli and the U.S. Constitution, you might enjoy taking the neocon quiz. It’s here.
Thursday, November 10
5:59 AM The latest addition to our home page is called The Anabaptists and State Religion.
5:55 AM Becky Lynn has been busy sorting the 3,000 plus pieces of flannelgraph for distribution among the churches in Ethiopia.
5:50 AM Over at the Washington Post, Leslie H. Gelb and Anne-Marie Slaughter are calling forNo More Blank-Check Wars. A key excerpt:
Today Congress deliberates on transportation bills more carefully than it does on war resolutions. Our Founding Fathers wanted the declaration of war to concentrate minds. Returning to the Constitution's text and making it work through legislation requiring joint deliberate action may be the only way to give the decision to make war the care it deserves.
Truth be told, there is only one political party in America today that would require a congressional declaration of war, and that’s the Constitution Party. From their platform:
Unconstitutional, Undeclared Wars
Since World War II, the United States has been involved in tragic, unconstitutional, undeclared wars which cost our country the lives of many thousands of young Americans. These wars were the direct and foreseeable result of the bi-partisan interventionist policy of both Democrat and Republican administrations.
The Constitution Party is opposed to the continuation of the same interventionist policy, with that policy's capacity to involve our country in repeated wars.
We demand that:
- never again shall United States troops be employed on any foreign field of battle without a declaration of war by Congress, as required by the United States Constitution;
- Congress refuse to fund unconstitutional, undeclared wars pursuant to presidential whim or international obligations under which American sovereignty has been transferred to multi-national agencies.
5:45 AM On NPR Frank Deford is up in arms about the slaughtering of retired race horses. “Stop the holocaust,” he exclaims. As the owner of a retired race horse, may I remind Mr. Deford (and NPR) that the real holocaust in America involves the 50 million children that have been murdered by abortion since 1973? Will the carnage stop because we elect “conservative” politicians? 32 years of endless talk and false promises should answer that question. On Sept. 11, 2001, 3,000 innocent Americans lost their lives and we are justly outraged. Every day in America over 3,000 Americans are slaughtered by abortion. Our own government has allowed that to happen. God have mercy upon us.
5:39 AM Look who’s warming up to big government – a Wal-Mart near you.
5:37 AM We rejoice with Matthew and Dana McDill over the baptism of their daughter Bethany. That was very special, I’m sure. I had the privilege of baptizing my sons at Kailua Beach in Hawaii at the same spot where I was immersed when I was eight. A special day indeed.
5:35 AM Over at the Founders Ministry Blog, Gene Bridges makes some interesting observations about the cultural (versus theological) differences between the Charleston and Sandy Creek Baptist Associations. Highly recommended!
5:30 AM My esteemed colleague George Braswell has published yet another book on Islam. It treats such topics as:
Why is terrorism associated with Islam?
Is anyone protected from the violence of martyrs?
Does political Islam have Allah as head of state?
Does Islam have hatred towards Jews and Christians?
What is Islam like in America and is it growing?
Is anyone protected from the violence of martyrs?
Does political Islam have Allah as head of state?
Does Islam have hatred towards Jews and Christians?
What is Islam like in America and is it growing?
5:26 AM Received this great email yesterday:
I regularly read your articles on daveblackonline.com, and thought you might find this interesting. Of course, this individual is proposing a complete pull-back from organized religion, which is NOT what you call for (you call for a return to the biblical Church, as opposed to the current spate of powerless, superficial nominally-Christian churches).
This essay is definitely worth a read. This bit is especially delicious:
I need to worship. So I go to my local church, which, if it’s cutting-edge, has a worship pastor on staff that prepares an inspiring "worship experience" for me on a weekly basis. One local church I know advertises its worship services on its marquee, "We worship five times, three ways, one God." (Hello! Is it me or does that just sound wrong?)
I also need to fellowship with my fellow Christians. So I go to my local church to attend a programmed version of community that provides a surface-level contact with people around some form of activity at my convenience. If I need more fellowship, I go to a small group, usually focused on the dynamic personality of the small group leader or on the subject matter I feel I need to better my life. But again, this is at my convenience and fairly optional if my schedule becomes too demanding.
I need discipleship and Christian growth. So I go to my local church to attend Sunday services, Bible studies and small groups where someone opens the Bible and tells me what it says and how it should apply to my life. I also have the option of learning "practical" topics such as how to be a good spouse, parent, employee, leader, steward, etc.
I need to serve. So I go to my local church and participate in a program where I use my time and skills in a fairly convenient manner to help others. For the most part, it’s fairly safe. And if I'm a volunteer, my participation is completely based on my schedule.
I need to be engaged in mission. So I go to my local church to connect to their evangelistic ministry and their missions program. Every so often I might volunteer to hand out sodas or serve coffee in a convenient and semi-relational form of "reaching people" for Christ. I might also give money to local missionaries the church supports and maybe participate in a weekend mission trip.
I need a children's program to educate my kids. So I go to my local church to place my children in the care of Sunday school teachers and youth pastors who will provide the spiritual and moral foundation for their Christian growth via an age-relevant program.
This is exactly what I’ve been saying for years. I must note that the author does not espouse the answers I would give to the problems we face in our hyper-institutionalized churches. But he certainly has his finger on the problem.
5:17 AM The Umblog has a few words on the desire for genuine community. The author raises a very good question: If you were to plant a church, what would it look like?
5:13 AM I extend my heartiest congratulations to John Leone of New Jersey for running the race so well. You are a success in my eyes, friend. Thank you for standing upon principle. You are an example to the rest of us.
5:10 AM Here’s a delightful letter I received from the UK:
I wanted to write and say thank you for the excellent writing you have on your website. I periodically check it to read the articles you have written. Today, I really enjoyed you piece on Greener-Pasture Pastors. As a UK resident, I'm not always up to speed on American politics to understand some of things you write on but I always enjoy your pieces on aspects relating to the Bible and our faith in Jesus. Many of the points you make are very thought provoking and more than once I have shared your work with others.
5:05 AM This Sunday, November 13, the world wide web will celebrate its 15th birthday. Coincidently, November 13, 2003, was also the day we launched our blog here at DBO. Here's our very first entry:
How time flies!
Wednesday, November 9
6:05 AM Apparently the photo of the Megiddo inscription that I linked on Sunday has been removed from many Internet sites. It does appear, however, that I may have been correct that the inscription read "God Jesus Christ" instead of "Lord Jesus Christ."
5:58 AM German students! Here are some good audio links. And remember: Aller Anfang ist Schwer.
5:50 AM My wife and father-in-law are working on a second CD for distribution among the pastors in Ethiopia. Below is one of the tools to be included. Blows my mind!
5:47 AM I recently spoke at Amis Chapel Baptist Church near Oxford, NC. Amis Chapel is the mother church of my own congregation here in Virginia. Gene Brooks, a Southeastern student, has just started as interim there. Welcome to the 'hood, Gene.
5:41 AM Congratulations to Chuck Baldwin on 30 years of ministry in one place. Chuck was once a right-wing Republican, but now he stands up stoutly against imperialism and the New World Order. I have to tell it like it is: Chuck's run for the vice-presidency on the Constitution Party ticket was a huge sacrifice of time and money but it got many people thinking about the Constitution again. Today, while we are sharpening our bayonets to carve off another big piece of the Middle East, Chuck is a reminder that old-fashioned conservatism is still alive in America, and that we are a Republic, not an Empire. Keep preaching it, brother. We'll keep listening.
5:36 AM Received this nice letter yesterday.
Dave, I really enjoyed your "Reformation Day" reference. I did not realize Halloween shared the same day. When we gathered at one of the fellowship families that night for what the Lady of the House called "Jesus Jubilee", I brought a printed copy of your article and suggested that in the future we refer to this day as Reformation Day, remind our children of the history and challenge each other on to further reformation in our lives. Now that my _________ College son is home from school for election day break, he informs me that everyone on campus is also referring to it as Reformation Day. While he is uncertain as to who to attribute the name to, he did say your blog was followed by many on campus! Congratulations! I believe we have just established a most excellent Christian Holiday over a corrupt pagan one!
Tuesday, November 8
6:37 AM In 5 weeks we leave for Ethiopia.
6:33 AM What a great day we had yesterday. As I left Bradford Hall to go to Nathan's farm the beautiful fall foliage greeted me.
Over at Maple Ridge we continued our work on the chimney. We're almost done with the upstairs portion. Next step: into the attic and through the roof.
Then it was off to campus. Dr. Godwin's recital was fabulous. She even played Buxtehude -- just for me!
Becky's refreshments were enjoyed by all. Her herb tea was a big hit.
I met up with my good buddy and faculty colleague, Dr. Logan Carson. He pastures at the Olive Branch Baptist Church in Wake Forest, where I'll be speaking in January.
We thank God for Nannette and the God-honoring music she brings to our campus. She has also been a great inspiration in Nathan's life as an organist.
6:13 AM A cyber-pal sent me this kind letter yesterday:
Brother Dave,Thank you for your continuing ministry through Dave Black Online and for your willingness to share the Light of the Gospel with the people of Ethiopia. Hope that my small contribution can play a part.Darrell Dow
Darrell is one of the sanest voices on the Internet today. Although I've never met him personally, I'm always encouraged and challenged when I read his site. Thank you, Darrell, for all you are doing to advance the cause of Christ.
6:06 AM The latest on the situation in Addis Ababa.
Monday, November 7
7:47 AM A home scholar is a year older. Happy BD Joshua!
UPDATE: Once, while the Austins were visiting Bradford Hall, Josh decided he'd borrow Nathan's bugle and sound Reveille to wake up his mom and dad. I think he woke up the entire county as well.
7:31 AM Yesterday I received an email from a man who believes that musical instruments should not be allowed in church services and that believers may only sing psalms. I did not reply to him as he did not ask me to. Had he asked me what I thought I might have said the following. The first thing I would say is that we must all be interested in one thing and only thing only -- holding a truly biblical position before the Lord based on the teaching of Scripture. It is extremely important for us to see what the Bible says both in its didactic statements and in the way it illustrates the truth in the lives of people. In all the really important areas of our lives I believe we can find that the principles set down in Scripture are adequate to answer our questions. They tell us the way we should live and walk. But there are some areas where the Bible does not give us such clear indications. Personally I find no mechanical formula for church music in the Bible, but the Bible does make it very plain that when believers "come together" in church it is to be primarily for edification and not for worship. For this reason, I do not get involved in discussions about "worship style" because it seems clear to me that worship is to be 24/7 for the Christian. We do not come together to worship; we come as worshippers. Thus, if we are truly seeking the Lord in this matter of worship, we will have to acknowledge that the Bible teaches that we have an obligation to worship God in our daily walk and not just on Sundays. Another thing to guard against is the idea that the patterns for the Christian assembly are somehow unclear or, if they are clear, are inapplicable to today. Some will say, "If the wine is new, why worry about the wineskins? The wine is the important thing." However, it is important to notice that while the Bible indicates that the inward is more important than the outward, yet the Bible does not allow us to disregard the outward altogether. The new wineskins are still very important to God. Having said this, however, we must realize that in these areas of church life God can lead as He wishes, and often His leading is very quiet. This is how it has been with me. Although I feel that the Scripture makes adequately plain which church practices please Him and which do not, I do try to keep these matters in perspective. This does not mean that these things are not importance to me. It is just that none of these things has any part in our justification before God. But once we become Christians, we want to obey the commands of Christ. For me, this means belonging to a Bible-believing fellowship where the one-anothers of Scripture are practiced. The Lord has been speaking to me during my prayer times in the quietness of the farm that it is important to Him that I be faithful in the wineskins. It is not, however, necessary for me to convince any other believer what he or she must think. It is my prayer that the whole church of Christ will seek to know God's will and be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit in all these matters. My advice would be to remember at all times that His arms are about us and that He will certainly lead us into all truth if we are willing to do His will.
7:05 AM Monday morning shout out to Doug and Janie Cutts. Janie served up the most delicious platter of venison we've had in a long time. After church we gathered up the eyeglasses from Norlina Baptist Church. Our total now is 212 pairs. Last night Becky Lynn began sorting them and placing them into their hand-made carrying cases.
Addis Ababa was calm over the weekend. Embassies in the capital wrote a strongly worded letter to the Prime Minister calling on him to release all political prisoners and to end the use of lethal force, random searches, and indiscriminate beatings. This week will be a crucial test to see whether the violence continues. Thank you for praying.
Sunday, November 6
6:50 AM The Jerusalem Post as well as several biblioblogs are reporting that archaeologists in Israel have unearthed an ancient church at Megiddo in Northern Israel. The church dates from the third or fourth century. The article from the JP notes:
Found on the floor of the structure was an inscription written in Greek dedicating the monument to the "Lord Jesus Christ". In addition to the dedication to Jesus, three other inscriptions were found on the mosaic floor.
I may be wrong, but my reading of the inscription indicates that Jesus is actually being called "God." The words for "God Jesus Christ," theo iesou christo, are visible in the fifth line (though abbreviated in the Greek to tho iu cho). Perhaps the JP and I are looking at different inscriptions, or I am misreading the Greek.
6:32 AM The Normal Christian Blog just posted a review of our book Using New Testament Greek in Ministry.
6:28 AM Over at the Koller's Cottage you'll find some beautiful pictures of Arlington House, the home of General Lee and his wife. Great job, Erin.
Saturday, November 5
5:12 PM Just a reminder that Dr. Nannette Godwin of our music faculty will be performing Buxtehude and other organ (and piano) works this coming Monday at 7:00 pm on campus. My wife will be preparing light refreshments for a post-performance reception. Join us if you can.
5:02 PM Just had a great day working on the chimney with my son. Nathan does the work that involves talent. Me, I'm good for just about anything that doesn't involve skill. It's amazing to watch him build things with his hands. It's pure artisanship at work, a forgotten skill these days it seems to me. Meanwhile Becky has been hard at work in her garden and with our preparations for December's trip. She was up till 2:00 am last night making sure the laptops were ready for Ethiopia. We will be delivering them along with projectors to the church leaders in the south.
I hope you don't get too bored with these updates. We are so excited to be returning to the land of Becky's childhood. It is humbling to think that God would use us so many years after her parents left Ethiopia. We have our plans, but we really have no idea what will happen once we get there. It's all in God's hands, even our physical safety. Thanks for praying.
7:08 AM We just received this email from a student in Ethiopia. Please continue praying for this troubled nation.
I am afraid to tell you what is going on in our country specially, at Addis Ababa. This last week was full of plight; you know what was happened in last June, by following of the election. These last five days Addis Ababa were full gun shuts and many innocents were killed. It was very sad situation. Many youths arrested by the polices, I think about 5000 youths. At list 40 had been killed and about 200 injured. In fact, the violence was made not only by youths but by the whole peoples: men and women. Specially, begins from Wednesday all schools, offices even the government offices were closed and still today taxi transportations does not start. It was very sad moments. In our college we had fasting and prayer time on this issues for last Monday thru Wednesday, but Wednesday we can’t stay at college, because of gun shuts and disturbance on the city.Dear BeckyLynn, we need every body PRAY to our country. We desperately need that God’s mighty hand may move over all the country. Individually and corporately we are seeking His face.
You can read more here.
6:55 AM Our weekend plans have changed. Originally we planned to attend a reenactment, but instead we will be giving an update on our Ethiopian work at the Norlina Baptist Church in North Carolina. Our good friends Doug and Janie Cutts are leading a great missions charge at NBC, and we want to be part of it.
6:36 AM I just finished writing my entry below when I snapped this photo from my front porch. Psalm 66:5: "Come and witness God's exploits! His acts on behalf of people are awesome!" (NET Bible).
6:26 AM I so appreciate all of the articles and links you kind people have sent me on the emergent church. I do praise the Lord that the Holy Spirit has led the younger generation of Christians into understanding the weaknesses of the institutionalized church. I feel that they are very much like those of us in the 1960s who were part of the so-called Jesus Movement. However, I also feel that the new generation is in a place of grave danger because, realizing that much of what is called evangelical Christianity has terrible weaknesses, they tend to ignore the weaknesses of their own movement. Just as the Jesus Movement (of which I was a part) was eccentric in its overemphasis on experience and on Jesus as our "friend," so the emergent church not only fails to argue its case biblically but actually considers propositional truth largely irrelevant. Therefore I think that the emergent church is so completely destructive in the finding of truth that I would not for a moment even seem to equate it with the New Testament church. The profound connection I see between doctrine, spirituality, and the whole spectrum of reality veritably shouts a "no" to the wrong emphases in both emergent Christianity and non-emergent Christianity and a "yes" to the New Testament vision of Christ's Body. I am convinced that both emergers and non-emergers are taught against too a narrow a backdrop. Some are fighting exclusively the old battle of the Reformation concerning the great doctrines of the faith, while others are seeking exclusively the answers to really deep spiritual issues such as the meaning of life, communion with God, and personal peace. The marvelous thing is that the Bible has such wonderful and clear answers not only to our intellectual questions but to the spiritual ones as well. I feel that most of the reformed churches have let the pendulum swing too far in one direction in thinking that if only the right doctrines were taught all would be well, while emergers have concentrated almost exclusively on the opposite area of relationships. I am becoming increasingly convinced that since God is both light and love (this is the message of 1 John) it is our calling as Christians to act in such a way as to demonstrate the character of God as both ultimate reality and ultimate relationship. Failure to show forth either of these is, in my opinion, equally a perversion of the gospel. We must display both truth and love simultaneously. I am convinced that what is needed today is a fundamental recommitment to the twofold emphasis of the primitive New Testament church upon apostolic doctrine and apostolic practice (Acts 2:42) -- in other words a recommitment to both orthodoxy and orthopraxy. It seems to me, having read with interest a great deal of what the emergers are saying, that they understand the need for this. They are properly repulsed by a form of Christianity that stresses the external signs without the internal realties. And because of this, I sense that their numbers will grow among those in Christendom who are seeking a balance in showing forth the love of God and the holiness of God. It is my firm belief that doctrinal rightness is extremely important, but only as a starting point to go on to a living relationship with God. At the same time, the church still has the duty of guarding the truth and proclaiming the gospel to the lost, and this cannot be reduced to non-verbal actions. God willing, Becky and I will be doing both in Ethiopia in just a few short weeks.
Friday, November 4
4:47 PM Becky and I just got back from the "big city" where we had lunch and saw the podiatrist. It's too late to work on the chimney so I thought I'd snap a few pics. Stopped by Nate's farm to see how he was getting along. As you can see, his turkeys are extremely friendly and love to fly up on your arm or shoulder.
Here are our bottle-fed calves awaiting their supper. We have them in the "mini-pasture" until they are old enough to be with the big boys.
What would we ever do without our Massey-Ferguson? Nate baled a field today. After working on the chimney tomorrow we'll finish the other fields then gather the bales into the barn in anticipation of what is already promising to be a right cold winter.
Becky's big job for tomorrow is d/c-ing her raised garden beds and prepping them for a new layer of mulch.
Kids, here's one for you!
Alphabet Farm Song
(Tune: Old MacDonald Had a Farm)
Mrs. _______ had a farm
A B C D E
Letters, letters in the hay
F G H I J
With a K L M, N O P
Pigs and ducks and bumblebees
Q R S T U and V
W X Y Z
So long, yall!
6:35 AM The latest addition to our home page is called Extending the Reformation.
6:32 AM As many of you know, last summer we hired a professional videographer to tape my beginning Greek classes in Addis Ababa. I am currently looking for someone to edit the raw tapes (two cameras were used) into DVDs. My primary goal is to make my beginning course available to third world students and home scholars. If you would be willing to help me or know of someone who can, please contact me.
6:30 AM In this overview of Hebrews used at a Baptist University, it is argued that the style of Hebrews and that of Paul are so different as to preclude the possibility of the Pauline authorship of the letter. Like many such discussions, the essay repeats arguments without evaluating them. Here's one example:
In addition, the author of the Letter to the Hebrews introduces his quotations from the Old Testament with the formula "The Holy Spirit says" (legei to pneuma to hagion) (3:7) or "He [God] says" (legei) (1:6, 7; 5:6; 8:5, 10), whereas Paul introduces his quotations by the formulas "It has been written" (gegraptai) or "The scripture says" (legei hê graphê).
This argument, though frequently mentioned in the literature, will not do. And the reason it will not do is because it fails to cite evidence to the contrary. I will not belabor the point here (I have treated this issue at length in an article in Faith and Mission), but you can look up the following passages and check the data for yourselves: 1 Cor. 6:16; 15:27; 2 Cor. 6:2; Gal. 3:16; Eph. 4:8; 5:14. As Nigel Turner concluded (A Grammar of New Testament Greek, vol. 4,Style, p. 109): “This impersonal use of ‘he says’ is quite rabbinical and also Pauline….” If I may paraphrase Origen: “Why scholars keep repeating arguments without examining them against the primary data, God alone knows.” My approach? Give students the evidence, discuss the pros and cons, then let them decide for themselves.
6:18 AM Phil Lancaster is right. It is an affront to Jesus Christ and an insult to every other man in the church for a pastor to assume a place of prominence and uniqueness when Jesus Himself condemned any attempt at superiority of position (Matt 23:8). Jesus is the only Senior Pastor of the church. The rest of us are brothers. R. T. France, in his Tyndale Commentary on Matthew, reminds us:
[Jesus] has the only true claim to ‘Moses’ seat.’ Over against that unique authority His disciples must avoid the use of honorific titles for one another, an exhortation which today’s church could profitably take more seriously, not only in relation to formal ecclesiastical titles (‘Most Rev.’, ‘my Lord Bishop,’ etc.) but more significantly in its excessive deference to academic qualifications or to authoritative status in the churches.
I am called many things: Dr. Black, Professor Black, Dr. David Alan Black, etc. I sincerely appreciate the love and respect behind these titles.
My preference? Brother Dave.
6:12 AM The other night I looked at my dog Shiloh asleep in my library and my mind turned to the concept of worship. Funny, I thought, how he worships the ground I walk on. He is completely dependent on me. He can’t wait to be with me. I get home and he barks wildly until I pet him. He can't wait to serve me, to do my every bidding. He goes wherever I go, sits wherever I sit. He positions himself where he can see my face. All I have to do is look into his eyes, and if I look at him just right he knows it’s a signal to come and jump up on the sofa so I can scratch his ears. I whistle and he knows it's time to go outside and check up on the goats.
Now, how do we learn to trust God? The same way. It comes by seeking His face. By looking at Him in His Word. By depending on Him completely. By doing His every bidding.
Thanks, Shiloh. What a lesson. I love you.
6:06 AM Over at Texas Wildflowers Lady Lora asks: Do we take our Christianity too lightly? Are we willing to suffer – really suffer – for the sake of the Savior? Christ died so that He might be our Savior from sin. This is a fundamental truth of Christianity. The tragic reality, however, is that many of us who profess to accept His Saviorship refuse to accept His Lordship. Christ’s death is not to be understood merely as information—“isn’t it great that Christ died for my sins!” There must also be identification: “Yes, Christ died for me, but He died so that I might no longer live for myself but unto Him who died for me and rose again” (cf. 2 Cor. 5:15).
6:00 AM This family has a wonderful testimony to the grace and love of Jesus while raising a large family to the glory of God. Thanks, Laura, for your example of selflessness, and may the Lord richly bless you and your ever-expanding quiver.
5:55 AM In less than five weeks Becky and I will be in Ethiopia. Here's the latest advisory from the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa:
To all American Citizens in Ethiopia:
The Embassy is issuing this Warden Message to alert U.S. citizens to security concerns prompted by recent events. This morning, Tuesday, November 1, local police took action to disperse stone-throwing demonstrators protesting in the Mercato and Piazza areas of Addis Ababa, resulting in reports of injuries and some deaths on both sides. As of 2:00 p.m., the situation in the areas noted above showed signs of returning to normal with a noticeable reduction in the number of blue taxis and city buses on the streets. Most businesses in the Piazza and Mercato area closed early today.
Americans should exercise prudence and caution in going about their normal activities and, as always, avoid public demonstrations and political rallies. For at least the next several days, avoid the Mercato and Piazza areas, carry photo identification (such as your U.S. passport) with you at all times, and cooperate fully if confronted by law enforcement.
Meanwhile the unrest in the capital continues. A new border war with Eritrea is also a possibility. Thankfully, as far as we know Bereket and our other Ethiopian sons are safe. Thank you for your prayers for this beleaguered nation.
5:50 AM Yesterday I received this delightful letter from a brand new Greek student. I wish him well on his "journey."
Thank you once again for the Greek workbook and CD. They arrived yesterday and my new copy of your book arrived today. Tonight begins my journey into the Greek language.
You have been a blessing to me and my studies. Your website has a wealth of information and I visit it daily. It is a "seminary" in its own right.
I know I've mentioned this before, but if any of you are studying Greek and happen to be using my beginning grammar Learn to Read New Testament Greek, let me know and I will gladly send you my workbook and pronunciation CD gratis.
Thursday, November 3
5:47 AM The world must speak out. Addis Ababa is a war zone. What can stop the indiscriminate use of lethal force against helpless women and children? People are dying every hour. The violent response of the Ethiopian government should be condemned by the entire international community. I call upon President Bush and Prime Minister Blair to exert the greatest pressure possible on the leadership in Addis so that the arrests and killings stop NOW. It is high time the developed countries speak out openly and condemn this senseless brutality.
5:38 AM In his review (.pdf) of my book Why Four Gospels? for the Review of Biblical Literature, Leo Percer of Baylor University shows considerable courage in giving credence to my view that our earliest Gospel was Matthew’s and not Mark’s, as is held by the majority of scholars today. I say “courageous” because anyone who offers even the slightest challenge to the modernconsensus opinio risks being accused of the grossest obscurantism.
However, Percer creates a straw man in arguing that my view of the order of the Synoptic Gospels (which I posit as Matthew-Luke-Mark) ignores the historical evidence, which (in Percer’s view) is Matthew-Mark-Luke. This is not at all what I say, however. My view is that there are two apparently conflicting historical understandings of the order of the Synoptic Gospels, what I might call the Clementine view (named after the church father Clement of Alexandria, who stated that the Gospels containing genealogies [viz. Matthew and Luke] came first); and the Augustinian view (which represents the canonical order found in most of our Bibles today). As I note on page 43 of my book, it is possible for Mark to be regarded from two different aspects as both the second and the third—third in order of actual composition, but second in order of authority as the work of the apostle Peter. Thus the canonical order of Matthew-Mark-Luke places the works of apostles (Matthew and Mark = Peter) first. In this way, the Gospel of Mark functions as a “canonical bridge” as it were between the church’s earliest Gospel, that of Matthew (written primarily for Jewish Christians), and the next Gospel to be written, that of Luke (written largely for Gentile converts stemming from Paul’s missionary efforts in the larger Roman Empire). Much the same phenomenon occurs with the position of the book of Acts, which is the second volume of Luke’s history of the church (Luke-Acts). Why did the church take Acts, which was written before John, and place it after that writing? The reason apparently lies in the desire of the early church to provide an explanation of how the church got from the ministry of Jesus (as portrayed in the Gospel accounts) to the organized ministration as seen in the epistles. Acts alone provides the bridge of understanding between these phases of the development of earliest Christianity.
All of this makes sense when one takes into account the historical situation. Among the practical necessities of the apostles after Pentecost, they must have recognized the need for a written record of the fulfillment of Scripture that could serve as a witness in their place whenever they themselves could not do so personally. The Twelve chose Matthew to undertake this task. Thus Matthew, no doubt in close consultation with the other apostles, set down his witness to the life of Christ, limiting himself to the scope of one commercial-length scroll (10 meters). Due to the very real threat of persecution, the “Gospel according to Matthew” was completed before the apostles separated at the time of the persecution under King Herod Agrippa I and therefore was available to the apostle Paul on his very first missionary journey. Almost immediately, however, Paul encountered questions put to him by his converts that revealed problems peculiar to the Gentile environment to which Matthew’s account provided no explicit solutions. Between AD 58 and 60, when Paul and Luke found themselves at maritime Caesarea, Paul urged Luke to recover material that it had not been possible to incorporate in the scroll of Matthew and that would provide a fuller elucidation of Jesus’ teaching about the place of the Gentiles in the kingdom of God. This material was used by Luke to produce a “Gentile edition” of the Gospel. Later still, in 61/62, Paul found himself in Rome, and it was during his detention there that he would have had the opportunity to ask Peter to check over Luke’s text in order to enable him to publish it for use in the Gentile churches. (Remember that Luke himself was not an apostle.) Eusebius (EH 6.14.5-7) tells us that Peter’s response came in a series of messages given before a Roman audience comprised of high military officials. These messages were recorded by Mark, who was Peter’s secretary, and issued by him in written form to members of the audience at their request. These talks subsequently came to be referred to as “the Gospel according to Mark.”
There is, then, sufficient circumstantial evidence for accepting Mark as the literal transcript of a shorthand record made while Peter was actually delivering his talks. Subsequently, Peter permitted Mark to make the transcript available to all who asked for it. The fact that Mark never set out to write a Gospel may explain why his work was hardly ever quoted by Christian writers during the next three hundred years.
Later I will have more on the patristic testimony and its bearing on the origin of the Gospels.
5:11 AM Now here’s a great definition of Christianity from the Austin family:
Christianity is not a list of rules to follow. It is not going to a building once a week to hear some famous, or not so famous guy entertain you with his puns, or awe you with his human knowledge. Christianity is a relationship with Jesus Christ, our Holy God, a submission to His Spirit’s leading always in accordance with His written word, and a love that is only from above. This is only achieved in truth by a person who has been given faith from God.
The early disciples were first called “Christians” by unbelievers, not by their fellow disciples. What did the world see in those first believers? They saw their Christianity – their “Christ-likeness.” I once heard a child refer to this, not as Christianity, but as “Christianality.” It was a faux pas, but I like that word. Would our neighbors see Christ in us; would they recognize our Christianality? That’s a question I ponder daily here on the farm. In a close-knit community like ours, it is difficult to fake this sort of thing. People want to see reality.
I encourage you to spend some time getting reacquainted with the Book of Acts. Perhaps you will conclude, as I have done, that our lives and churches are so far removed from the pattern of the New Testament that it’s time to make some real changes. This will not be easy. Long-held habits do not die overnight. It will take a great deal of prayer and effort (in the Spirit) to overcome our false habits and thoughts. Nor will the devil take it lying down – as my wife often reminds me. He will be there constantly to tell us that it doesn’t really matter, that change is so difficult it is also dispensable. It is at this point that we must be sensitive to what the Spirit is saying about true Christianity. This includes the Christian obligation to exercise hospitality toward others – opening our homes freely and graciously to others, and going out of our way to care for the orphans and widows in their need. This is something the Lord has been impressing upon me for several years now, and today I would just as soon visit shut-ins as preach a sermon.
As my friends the Austins are discovering, in the world of men there is nothing greater than becoming true disciples of Jesus Christ. We can do this successfully only by exercising relentless faith – faith in the Triune God who saves, keeps, and satisfies as no other can. Then, as He leads us so to do, let us go out into our communities and declare to them – more by our actions, by our “Christianality,” than by our words – that He loves and cares for them, too. After all, as Jesus Himself said, this has always been the greatest apologetic for true Christianity (John 13:35).
5:03 AM Karl Hoffmann, a former SEBTS student and a good friend of our family, is involved in a new church plant. You can read about it in his essay called Life Together.
Wednesday, November 2
7:38 AM As my wife and I entered the village in southern Ethiopia we were met by the church elders and their assistants – servants who were to care for our physical needs. As we began to settle our weary bodies into our small guest room, the church servants carefully removed our shoes, brought a basin of cool water, and began to wash our feet. This was nothing out of the ordinary for them, but for us it meant everything after a long and wearying journey.
Our Lord once put a towel around Himself and washed His disciples’ feet. We must ask ourselves: “Whose feet are we washing?” I do not mean this pietistically. Scripture is clear that we must either humble ourselves now or be humbled in the future. One day we will stand in a believers’ judgment and have our works as Christians tried. Whatever we have done for ourselves – including seeking prominence, power, and the praise of men –will be lost forever.
If we are going to do the Lord’s work we must take His example seriously. And not only His example. Elsewhere Jesus instructed His followers that they were not to be called “Rabbi” or “Master,” and that the greatest among them would be the servant of all (Matt. 23:8, 10; Mark 10:44). Yet how easy it is to reverse the equation. Doesn’t each one of us want to press on to the greatest place as we follow the natural inclinations of our fallen natures? In earlier days the Pope used to be called the “servant of servants.” What a biblical title that is! Yet I am told that when the Pope ate he did so raised on a platform while other people ate below this “servant of servants.” While traveling through the “Holy City” his gold-covered chair would be carried on the backs of men. How much like us! How easy it is to talk about humility, speaking about being a servant of servants and then being carried on the backs of men.
When have Brother Sounding Brass or Sister Tinkling Cymbal been more in evidence than today? Hubris and self-centeredness characterize every level of American society. Health, wealth, and happiness fads flourish, politicians add a Bible verse or two to justify their ungodly policies, godless entertainers throw in a hymn every now and then to satisfy a gullible public, and church-goers pay God a tip on Sunday morning to soothe their aching consciences. Bible scholars read papers at conferences knowing full well their scholarship has nothing to do with advancing the kingdom of God but everything to do with their promotions. We build elaborate platforms for our pastors and then provide them with chairs that would make the chief seats in the synagogue pale. We patronize God instead of obeying Him these days.
Never has evangelical Christianity needed foot-washing more than today. Some churcheshave made it into a third ordinance – members actually wash the feet of others during their meetings. Most of us would be appalled at making foot-washing an ordinance, but it would be a million times better to wash each others’ feet in a literal way than never to wash anybody’s feet in any way.
Our Lord said that when we wash each others’ feet we are having and practicing the attitude He commands. Today there must be more than biblical orthodoxy and even church purity. There must be the deep, devotional attitude toward God and a concomitant attitude of humility toward others. Speaking as a seminary professor, I am afraid that our book-learning and degrees and exalted titles and churchly positions are often nothing but seedbeds for pride.
Are you a foot-washer? Am I? By God’s grace, let us not be infiltrated by the values of affluence, education, and personal peace. Let us use the treasures that God has given us in humble service to Him and in such a way that when we come to that Day we will have treasures laid up in heaven – and people eagerly waiting for us.
Eternal Creator and Loving God,
In the act of kneeling to wash one another’s feet,
may we kneel also in our hearts
so that our lives may bow in service
to your will and not our own.
In allowing our feet to be washed,
may our lives be cleansed with your forgiveness
so that we may go forth
freed from the bonds of guilt and despair
to live in freedom and hope.
In our washing of feet,
cleanse our relationships with one another as well.
May we, in washing one another’s feet,
forgive and accept forgiveness from one another
for any hurts or wrongs or misunderstandings
that have passed between us,
so that we may rise to sit together at your table
in a renewed and strengthened fellowship in your love. Amen. (Source.)
6:45 AM I see that Origen has been misquoted again on the authorship of Hebrews. Origen meets the stylistic objection to Pauline authorship in a manner similar to that of his predecessor Clement: the thoughts are Pauline, but the style and diction are to be credited to another hand. In this way Origen maintains the apostolic origin of the epistle while removing the objection based on the diversity of style. When Origen says, “For not without reason have the men of old handed it down as Paul’s,” and then adds, “But whowrote the epistle, in truth God knows,” he does not mean to suggest uncertainty about the author but only about the penman—that is, the one who reduced the letter to writing—for he has just asserted that the thoughts are those of the apostle Paul. To assert that Origen meant to suggest that only God knew the author of the epistle is to suppose that Origen has contradicted himself in the same paragraph.
It is astonishing to see how these basic facts about Origen’s view of authorship are overlooked by commentators on Hebrews, who almost always quote him in support of an agnostic position on the letter’s authorship (and, by extension, its conceptual background). It is clear that Origen is referring, not to the author responsible for the contents of the letter, but to its penman, and he is certain that the former is none other than the apostle Paul. Had these authors read the works of Origen they would have seen that his actual method of quoting Hebrews indicates a firm belief in the Pauline authorship of the letter. A sampling of quotations from Origen will make this clear.
De Principiis 1:
And therefore I think it sufficient to quote this one testimony of Paul from the Epistle to the Hebrews, in which he says [Heb 11:24-26], “By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of the Egyptians.”
De Principiis 3.2.4:
And the apostle Paul warns us [Heb 2:1]: “Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest perhaps we should let them slip.”
De Principiis 4.1.13:
In another Epistle also, when referring to the tabernacle, he [the reference is to Paul] mentions the direction which was given to Moses [Heb 8:5]: “Thou shalt make (all things) according to the pattern which was showed thee in the mount.”
De Principiis 4.1.13:
Moreover, in the Epistle to the Hebrews, discoursing of those who belong to the circumcision, he [Paul] writes [Heb 8:5]: “who serve for an ensample and shadow of heavenly things.”
De Principiis 4.1.24:
For Paul openly says of them [Heb 8:5], that “they serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things.”
De Principiis 2.7.7:
And the apostle [Paul] says with reference to the law [Heb 8:5], that they who have circumcision of the flesh, “serve for the similitude and shadow of heavenly things.”
De Principiis 2.3.5:
I will show, however, from what statements of Paul I have arrived at this understanding. He says [Heb 9:26], “But now once in the consummation of ages, He was manifested to take away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.”
De Principiis 3.1.10:
To show more clearly, however, what we mean, let us take the illustration employed by the apostle Paul in the Epistle to the Hebrews, where he says [Heb 6:7-8], “For the earth, which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, will receive blessing from God; but that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing, whose end is to be burned.”
Against Celsus 7.29:
And it is in reference to this Jerusalem that the apostle [Paul] spoke, as one who, “being risen with Christ, and seeking those things which are above,” had found a truth which formed no part of the Jewish mythology. “Ye are come,” says he [Heb 12:22], “unto Mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels.”
Against Celsus 3.52:
For the word is used by our Paul in writing to the Corinthians, who were Greeks, and not yet purified in their morals…. Now the same writer, knowing that there was a certain kind of nourishment better adapted for the soul, and that the food of those young persons who were admitted was compared to milk, continues [Heb 5:12-14]: “And ye are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness; for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.”
To Africanus 9:
For the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews, in speaking of the prophets, and what they suffered, says [Heb 11:37], “they were stoned, they were sawn asunder, they were slain with the sword.” …some one hard pressed by this argument may have recourse to the opinion of those who reject this Epistle as not being Paul’s; against whom I must at some other time use other arguments to prove that it is Paul’s.”
These examples are sufficient to show that Origen ascribes the authorship of Hebrews to the apostle Paul. He knew that the ancients had handed Hebrews down as a Pauline epistle, and it was on the strength of that tradition that he constantly cited the letter as Paul’s and declared his readiness to prove his convictions by arguments. Origen was aware of two conjectures, one identifying the assistant as Clement of Rome, the other identifying him as Luke. Nevertheless, on the strength of the ecclesiastical tradition that he had inherited from the “men of old,” Origen consistently cited the epistle as Paul’s.
6:41 AM Civil unrest has broken out again in the capital of Ethiopia. The nation needs our prayers.
Tuesday, November 1
5:49 AM This is long overdue, friends, but a very sincere and heartfelt "Thank You" for your faithful readership. And faithful you have been. Year to date, DBO has had over 2 million hits. Last month alone our hit total was 259,126; yesterday it was 15,970. Our blog continues to be our most-viewed page; our home page runs a close second. Our most popular essay in October was Female Bloggers.
This month celebrates our second Blogiversary. Can you believe it? Seems like yesterday when we began it. Sure glad we did. It's been gobs of fun.
So, as 1 of over 60,000,000 bloggers worldwide (including the Speaker of the House), I would again like to say, "Thank You." Or, as we would say in Hawaii:
Ke aloha no me ka mahalo kaua!
5:45 AM You can test your Spanish here. (It's not an easy quiz either. I missed two out of twelve.)
5:42 AM Congratulations to a wonderful young lady on the publication of her first book. (And kudos to the proud dad.)
5:39 AM The Saint Louis Metrovoice was kind enough to link to our essay Patrick Henry Was Right.
5:35 AM At long last, a definitive definition of "Britishness." I guess.
"long shadows on county grounds, warm beer, invincible greensuburbs, dog lovers and pools fillers and - as George Orwell said 'old maids bicycling to holy communion through the morning mist'."
5:30 AM Over at Theologia Crucis Bobby Grow links to a work by G. K. Chesterton on the need for humility before an infinite Being. We have already noted that our hubris, on a national level, is quite incompatible with a biblical world view. Why, then, do so many evangelicals continue to swallow the imperialists' sophistry, unless it is because they are listening to the spin courtiers? More later.
5:25 AM What is an "opisthograph"? It's a document written on the back of another writing. Below is a picture of papyrus13, beginning with Heb. 4:2. It is dated to the third or fourth century. Greek students, note the spelling of horizei at the bottom of the page; it uses a finaleta instead of an epsilon-iota diphthong (which is the "correct" person-number suffix). Variants of this kind are fairly common in the manuscripts of the New Testament.
5:15 AM Last weekend I luxuriated in the Scriptures. On Saturday, I read the whole Book of Acts in one sitting in the ISV (Version 1.00). Then I reread selected passages in the ESV to get a feel for its naturalness. Speaking personally (and hardly objectively, as I am the New Testament editor of the ISV), I think Wayne Leman is on to something when he challenges the almost universal claim that the ESV is incomparably readable. But you can compare for yourself. Here's the ESV of a passage from Acts (I chose 21:1-6 randomly):
And when we had parted from them and set sail, we came by a straight course to Cos, and the next day to Rhodes, and from there to Patara. And having found a ship crossing to Phoenicia, we went aboard and set sail. When we had come in sight of Cyprus, leaving it on the left we sailed to Syria and landed at Tyre, for there the ship was to unload its cargo. And having sought out the disciples, we stayed there for seven days. And through the Spirit they were telling Paul not to go on to Jerusalem. When our days there were ended, we departed and went on our journey, and they all, with wives and children, accompanied us until we were outside the city. And kneeling down on the beach, we prayed and said farewell to one another. Then we went on board the ship, and they returned home
And here's the ISV:
When we had torn ourselves away from them, we sailed straight to Cos, and the next day to Rhodes, and from there to Patara. There we found a ship going across to Phoenecia, so we went aboard and sailed away. We came in sight of Cyprus, and leaving it on our left we sailed on to Syria and landed at Tyre because the ship was to unload its cargo there.So we looked up up the disciples and stayed there for seven days. Through the Spirit they kept telling Paul not to go to Jerusalem. But when our days there were ended, we left and proceeded on our journey. All of them with their wives and children accompanied us out of the city. We knelt on the beach, prayed, and said goodbye to each other. Then we went aboard the ship, and they went back home.
Questions: Today do we "seek someone out" or "look someone up"? Do we say "farewell" or "goodbye"? Do we say "they all" or "all of them"? Which rendering in your view is more natural? Readable? Accurate? Is your favorite English translation better than these? If so, how and why?
By the way, Wayne met a Sunday School teacher who teaches directly from the Greek New Testament. He thought that was marvelous, and so do I. That's my habit also. I rarely preach or teach from anything other than my Greek New Testament. Last Sunday, for example, I preached a sermon directly from the Greek, offering my own translation as I went along. I usually preface my remarks by saying something like (with a smile on my face), "In my Bible it says ...." I leave it to the listeners to guess "Which Bible?"
I hope Wayne will soon turn his attention to ("his sights on"?) the ISV. I know our translation team could benefit from his insights. (Wayne, I already see two changes I'd make in our Acts passage!)
5:00 AM Some good thoughts on genuine fellowship:
Statistics continue to show that the most significant moments in people's spiritual growth come not at church services, but through personal relationships and in small home studies. Church statisticians tell us that the fastest growing segment of church life today is home groups, Bible studies and house churches. In fact the most effective discipleship and mission work is done by loosely-affiliated small groups of believers learning to share the life and love of Jesus together as a real part of their every day lives.
Personally, I love that kind of body life. Certainly it is more challenging than meeting in managed services, but I find it a far greater growing environment for the whole family. But our purpose at Lifestream is not to advance any system over another. Actually any system (including home churches) can be exploited by people looking to serve themselves instead of live in Father's love. And any time our idea of church becomes a substitute for a living relationship with Father it becomes destructive.