Monday, October 20, 2014

Up And Moving

Lesly and I are heading to get some breakfast. Then we're off to the Complutense. Thanks for all of the emails/texts letting us know you're praying for us.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Three More Pics From Today




Update From Madrid (October 19)

We had an awesome day!!!!!!! Here is a little video update. Today the highlight of the trip for me was going to the Temple of Debod. It was absolutely amazing. It was given to Spain in 1968, then taken down, transported to Spain from Egypt, and reassembled. Seriously, this is really cool. If you ever come to Spain, you simply have to go see it. And be sure you go inside. There's not a lot to see once you're in there, but what they do have is so worth the short line.

Tomorrow Lesly and I are heading to the Complutense. First, we are going to the library. I need to pick up my student ID, and we are going to meet with the curator to view their edition of the Complutensian Polyglot. Afterwards, we are heading over to the Department of Ancient World Studies to meet with the faculty and staff. It's going to be so nice to finally put faces to names. We are especially looking forward to meeting Mrs. Marga Sanchez. Marga has been so kind to us, and we couldn't have arrived at this point in my studies without her kindness and service.

And as if you had to ask. Of course, picture time.















Leaving Plaza Mayor


Plaza Mayor


Walking Through Plaza Mayor

Right now Lesly and I are walking through Plaza Mayor. It is a large quad area. Around the perimeter people are selling stamps and coins. Lots of people are just walking around, hanging out, and catching up on the world's events. The people here in Madrid are relaxed. It's definitely different than Central America though. I feel like I've stepped back into the 1970s in a way. The style here is not antiquated, it's just like walking into a cool part of the world where everyone shops at Hollister without all the branding on the shirts. We are going to head back to the hotel in a few minutes and check in. 

Visiting El Rastro

Lesly's been telling me about the famous flea market in Spain. Well, our hotel is right down the street and we've got a few hours before check-in time. So we are walking now. For some odd reason my international plan is not working. I'm going to try and fix that later so I can post without a wifi connection. 

Here's The Hotel


We Are In Madrid!!!


Saturday, October 18, 2014

Up North And Thinking

Lesly and I are sitting in JFK right now. I just took my girl to get a coffee (courtesy of our friends in NC). Lesly got the pumpkin latte, and it is absolutely delicious. I was skeptical, but call me a skeptic no longer.

Our flight to Madrid leaves around 7:00 pm. Lesly just told me we are scheduled to arrive at 8:35 am. 

Thanks to each of you who has sent us an email or left a voicemail telling us that you're praying for our trip. That means a lot to us.

I called my mentor and friend earlier just to say hey and update him on the trip. Do you have someone in your life that spurs you on to maximize your life for the sake of the gospel? I've got a few. Lesly's definitely one of them. I don't know what my life would be like without these people involved. Mediocre isn't really the word. But definitely deficient in so many ways--less drive, less wind in the sails, less energy, less purpose, less motivation, less satisfaction, less love, and less impact, to name just a few. I'm forever grateful for the impact these brothers and sisters make in my life. I want God to use me in other person's lives like they've been used in mine. God's got a pretty amazing plan in place: Take everyday people and do extraordinary things through them. And thank God for that plan!

Program For The Conference In Alcalá De Henares

Dr. Piñero sent me the program for the conference in Alcalá de Henares. It looks great. I'm really looking forward to being in this historic city. All of the presentations look interesting. My eyes are definitely focused on four:
  1. "Fundamentos de crítica textual: exégesis judía y cristiana" by Ignacio Carbajosa Pérez, Universidad de San Dámaso (UESD)
  2. "El Nuevo Testamento en la Biblia Políglota Complutense" by Antonio Piñero Sáenz, Universidad Complutense de Madrid (UCM)
  3. "La Políglota Complutense en su contexto" by Natalio Fernández Marcos, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC)
  4. "La columna griega de la Biblia Políglota Complutense" by Luis Gil Fernandez, Universidad Complutense de Madrid (UCM)
Each presenter will have 30 minutes. That's not a lot of time, but it just means we have to get straight to business. Take a look at the program. You can get it by going to the conference website page



Walking Down The Terminal


Heading To The Airport


Adios, Casita!


Getting Ready

Our friend Danny is heading over to pick us up now. We fly from Baltimore to New York, then direct to Madrid. We'll get there tomorrow. I guess you could say we're gonna chase daylight when we fly back home. On this leg of the journey, though, we will lose some hours. I told Lesly this is going to be her shortest birthday ever. She said, "It doesn't matter. We are going to Spain!" Is she happy? Oh yeah!!!!

Happy Birthday, Lesly!!!!


Friday, October 17, 2014

Leaving For Spain Tomorrow

We are flying across the Atlantic Ocean tomorrow! And we are thrilled. We've got lots of things planned. I just sent the following letter to my president and dean:
"I just wanted to give you an update about our trip to Europe. But before I do, I want to tell you just how thankful I am to both of you for giving me this wonderful opportunity to serve at Lancaster Bible College | Capital Seminary and Graduate School. I thoroughly enjoy where the Lord has me and love having this opportunity to train up servant-leaders for the Great Commission. Thank you so much! 
Lesly and I are flying to Europe tomorrow afternoon. We are very excited about this wonderful opportunity that God has given us. We will spend one week in Madrid and one week in Rome. While in Madrid, I will be meeting the faculty and staff at the Complutense University, viewing multiple copies of the Complutensian Greek New Testament, and assisting at a conference commemorating the quincentennial anniversary of the first printed Greek New Testament in Alcalá de Henares (October 23-24). 
Lesly and I are looking forward to spending time with Dr. Piñero and his wife while we are in Madrid. 
On Oct 25, Lesly and I will travel to Rome. I will have four days to meet with the curator of the Vatican Library, view copies of the Complutensian Greek New Testament, and compare my preliminary collation data to Greek manuscripts in the Vatican. Andreina Rita and the Vatican staff have graciously granted me access to all of their Greek manuscripts. 
Needless to say, we are super excited! We would appreciate your prayers while we are traveling. It will be an honor to represent our Lord Jesus Christ and Lancaster|Capital in Europe over the next couple of weeks."

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

"Don't Take The Teacher's Place" Or "Don't Let People Call You Teacher"

You may have never heard this verse before, or you may have just not paid much attention to it. Jesus tells his disciples, "But do not be called 'Rabbi'. Here's my reason for why: One is your Teacher, and you are all are just brothers and sisters" (Matt. 23:8). That's a pretty interesting verse! What in the world is Jesus telling his disciples? And why?

Tonight I was reading an interesting discussion on this passage. The author, John Yueh-Han Yieh writes this:
"Jesus' self-understanding as teacher is most evident in his claim to the 'one teacher' (εἷς . . . διδάσκαλος) and the 'one instructor' (καθηγητής . . . εἷς) in 23:8-10. Striking is the argument that there is only one God in heaven, so there should be only one teacher, Jesus the Christ, in the church (23:9). . . . Several things regarding 23:8-10 are noteworthy. (1) Planted in between a harsh criticism (23:1-7) and a stern condemnation (23:13-39) against the scribes and the Pharisees, Jesus the One Teacher is sharply contrasted with those hypocritical, incompetent, and wicked teachers of the law. (2) Banned from being called 'rabbi' or 'instructor' (23:8, 10), Jesus' disciples and followers are also contrasted with the Jewish teachers of the law. To be noted is that the ban is issued not merely against their use of rabbi or instructor as titles but against their taking the position of teacher, because that position of authority and honor is reserved exclusively for Jesus. (3) Jesus' disciples are defined as brotherhood ('and you are all brethren' 23:8c). The 'all' (πάντες) emphasizes the equality of status, why are they defined as 'brethren to one another' instead of disciples to him'? Even though both terms have been used in Matthew to describe Jesus' followers, would it not be more natural to define them as 'disciples' in the context of Jesus' claim to be their only teacher? Jesus' reason becomes clear, when the preceding context of 23:8 is taken into account. On the journey to Jerusalem, his disciples have shown to be 'status-conscious' when they rebuke children who approach Jesus for blessing (19:13-15) and ask for special rewards as Peter does: 'Look, we have left everything and followed you. What then shall we have?' (19:27). They are also 'desirous of power and position' as indicated in their resentment against John and James when they find out that their mother is lobbying for them to sit beside Jesus in the kingdom (20:20-24). It is therefore probable that Jesus sees a potential danger in the honorable position of teacher that may threaten their bond of brotherhood, so he intentionally emphasizes the idea of brethren in this saying." (73-75)
Is Jesus talking about titles or position/role? Pay special attention to this sentence: "To be noted is that the ban is issued not merely against their use of rabbi or instructor as titles but against their taking the position of teacher, because that position of authority and honor is reserved exclusively for Jesus." Yieh is saying Jesus is not simply telling his disciples to not let themselves be called by titles of honor. He says Jesus is warning of something much more than that.

My own look at the Greek sees Jesus' command as one to reject honorific titles. "Don't let people call you 'Rabbi [or, Teacher]'" (ὑμεῖς δὲ μὴ κληθῆτε ῥαββί)! I think Jesus is actually telling them to abandon any proclivity to honor-by-title and authority-by-title ministry. He expects ministry to be fraternal, horizontal, and equal. In no way, shape, or form were his disciples to duplicate or copy the paradigm of the world. His kingdom would be inverted, upside down, and flat. Everyone is just brother and sister. Doesn't matter what you do in his kingdom. Just brother and sister. If you want to be "great," though, you won't go up; you go down. And even when you are living in kingdom greatness, with the servant's towel in your hand, you're still just someone's brother or sister. Even if you step up to a pulpit each Sunday, you're still just brother. Even if you have that Ph.D. in Biblical Studies, yep, you're just brother or sister. And we ought to be excited that we have this amazing adoption, this new family. Aren't you glad there's no favoritism in God's kingdom? I sure am. One Lord. One God. One baptism. One faith. And we–that is, all of us who are in Christ Jesus–we all are just brothers and sisters.

This is an interesting book, one which I am going to give a more in-depth look later. I'm fascinated with the gospels. I love studying them. I love letting the Teacher teach me through them.
_____

Yieh, John Yueh-Han. One Teacher: Jesus' Teaching Role in Matthew's Gospel Report. Beiheft zur Zeitschrift für die neutestamentliche Wissenschaft und die Kunde der älteren Kirche 124. Edited by James D. G. Dunn, Carl R. Holladay, Hermann Lichtenberger, Jens Schröter, Gregory E. Sterling, Michael Wolter. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2004.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

A Really Wonderful Day!

Here's just a few pictures from today. Lesly and I got some work done at the office. When we left the office,  Lesly told me she had a surprise for me. She invited me to dinner. My choice. Anywhere I wanted to go! Well, anywhere would have involved a plane trip to Honduras to get some pechuga or sopa de topado! (She laughed and reminded me we had to stay in the MD area!) Well, Lesly took me to Nando's Peri Peri, and it was delicious. I decided to go one level up on the spice level. Great decision too. That peri-peri sauce is exceptional. It was a wonderful day. Lots of fellowship. Lots of prayers. For all of these things I am so grateful!



Jacob Cerone's Latest Post On Learning Greek

You'll want to read Jacob Cerone's latest post called "The Modern Minister and the Biblical Languages." In the end, Jacob asks the question "Should all ministers be required to know the biblical languages? If so, why?" What do you all think? Should they? Emphasis on all. Emphasis on required.

Hard Work And Faithfulness

I've been thinking about Lee and birthdays tonight. Go figure. It's my birthday, and I was curious what sort of things Lee did on his birthday or if we know through any historical data of Lee giving gifts for birthdays. This one thing jumped out to me while perusing some literature. It's not about a gift Lee gave per se, at least not the type of gifts we think of on birthdays. But here's the snippet Daniel Barefoot's book General Robert F. Hoke: Lee's Modest Warrior:
"It was Robert E. Lee's fifty-sixth birthday, and he gave Hoke a special present. On that day [January 19, 1863], the commander of the Army of Northern Virginia issued Special Orders No. 19, whereby he reorganized his army and made official a number of promotions. Specifically, Hoke was promoted to brigadier general. Thus, in just twenty-one months, Hoke had steadily ascended the ladder of command, holding almost every rank on his climb. He had gained each promotion not through political influence or favoritism, as did some officers during the war, but by skill, devotion to duty, courage, boldness in battle tempered by modesty off the field, and meritorious leadership." (75)
So this is what I've pondered reading the chapter in Barefoot's book. How do we determine which individuals we are going to entrust with greater responsibility? Political influence–playing the games that you have to play to get ahead, at least how the world tells you to? Toeing the line and being a guy that doesn't rock the boat, saying only the things that he knows other people will be flattered by hearing? Or is there a better set of criteria? I like the list Barefoot provides: skill, devotion, courage, boldness in the right fights, modesty.

Jesus told us how he made decisions. He looked for faithfulness. "To whom much is given, much is required." ""If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won't be honest with greater responsibilities." I can't stress enough just how important this trait is! That word is seared into my mind. Not a day goes by in my life when I'm not thinking in ways that make use of this word. Faithfulness. And hard work. Making the most of your time. Maximizing your life for the right thing, the Great Commission. Giving. Being someone who is more known for what they give than what they receive. Those are serious criteria for evaluating our lives. Those are the things I look for and treasure in partners in the work of the gospel.

_____

Barefoot, Daniel F. General Robert W. Hoke: Lee's Modest Warrior. Winston-Salem, NC: John F. Blair, 2001.

Some Thoughts On This Birthday

It was 1830, October 1st. Mary had just recently given her life to the Lord. This was her first birthday as an obedient follower of Jesus Christ. She was 22 years old. Here's part of her prayer:
"This day, oh with what different feelings do I hail it. Instead of viewing with sorrow the season of my youth passing away, I rejoice that I am so much nearer to my home–my heavenly home, my mansion of rest where I shall have no struggles and conflicts to apprehend, but an eternity too short to utter all the praise of Him who has called me from darkness to light, who has led me safely thus far and given me a good hope through grace that He will never, no never, forsake, who made all his goodness to pass before me and melted this stubborn heart . . . ." (Mrs. Robert E. Lee, 77)
Today is my birthday. I'm eleven years older than Mary was when she wrote those words. And my mind is ever so thankful for the provision that has been made for me by the cross. When Jesus died on that cross, he did not just die. God the Father did not just say, "Okay, I'll use Jesus' death as an opportunity to forgive Thomas." More had to take place on that cross. Jesus actually had to bear my sins. And he had to pay the price for all of those sins. God the Father treated his Son as if he was me and I was a millisecond past the Great White Throne judgement. And not just me, but everyone like me. All of us. God the Father literally directed his wrath to His Son, and Jesus voluntarily and willfully received the penalty for all the sins of the world and allowed himself to be treated as the guilt offering. Jesus absorbed all of that wrath. Yes, all of that wrath that would have been directed to me was incurred and absorbed by my Lord and my Savior. That's the provision he made for me. The certificate of debt–that running list of every single time we have ever disobeyed God–God nailed it to he cross, right up there with his Son. "Cancelled!" it reads. "Paid in full." "Remaining Balance: 0." And praise the Lord for that provision. Praise the Lord for that wonderful cross. Mary was so right when she called our life to come "an eternity too short to utter all the praise of Him who has called me from darkness to light." She's so right. Eternity is a mighty long time. But it's far too short given all the praise I want to give my God, my Lord, my Savior for saving me.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Two Types Of Readers Of The Bible

Michael B. Shepherd comments on two types of people reading the Bible:
"There are basically two types of readers of the Bible: (1) those who want to see what the Bible says about something and (2) those who want to see what the Bible says. It almost goes without saying that the first type represents the vast majority of Bible readers. People have their own concerns, and they want the Bible to provide insight into what they consider to be important in life. Relatively few readers reach the point where they are content to let the Bible raise its own set of questions. Few are willing to set aside what they think is relevant in order to allow their reading of the Bible to reorient their minds to what is central to the biblical authors." (87)
Question: What type of reader are you?

_____

Shepherd, Michael B. The Textual World of the Bible. Studies in Biblical Literature 156.  New York: Peter Lang, 2013.

Time Management And The Christian Life

Appreciated these words in Ryan Shaw's book:
"There are 168 hours in a week, 672 hours in a month and 8,064 hours in a year. These hours are at the disposal of every person equally. A way to please the Lord is to guard these hours, using them to move toward the life purpose he has intended for us. If we fail to use time well, someone or something else will seize it for other purposes. The discipline of time management isn't innate. In fact, it's the opposite. Left to ourselves, most of us waste vast amounts of time. Without an increasingly clear vision of God's purpose for our lives, we will most likely fail to use time in the right way." (183)
Using your time the right way does take discipline. I like to ask myself this question, "How can I maximize my time for the sake of the gospel?" Do I do it right all the time? No, but I'm striving hard by God's grace.
_____

Shaw, Ryan. Spiritual Equipping for Mission: Thriving as God's Message Bearers. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2014.

Greek New Testament Hapax Legomena

Check out this thread, which contains a .docx file with all the NT hapax legomena (see first link). How'd I find this? Well, thanks belongs to this post. Oh yeah, I don't use Facebook, but he's started a Facebook Hapax of the Day. Did you notice his translation of εὖγε? He gives "bravo." I've never thought of that one. I do like thinking out of the box. In this case, though, I think I'll just stick with "well done."

By the way, this is what I saw in Louw-Nida (see picture). Does "fine, you are a good servant" really translate εὖγε, ἀγαθὲ δοῦλε? Hmmmm.


Enjoy.

Rod Decker's Greek Grammar

What a wonderful report to read on Rod Decker's website: "Exciting News." Definitely go and read this exciting news. And get a copy of the book here. My favorite sentence in the whole thing is:
"Oh, that God would take a farm boy growing up in a pastor’s home and use him to help others learn the language of the Bible is a definite proof of God’s mercy and grace to mankind."
To which I say, Amen!

I sure miss reading Rod's blog. But so thankful for those of us who are like him, namely sharers in God's grace, lovers of the cross, and the handiwork of the God who does extraordinary things through everyday people.

GotQuestions?,org Question Of The Week

I came across this a moment ago, GotQuestions?.org's Question Of The Week: Does John 7:53—8:11 belong in the Bible? I was at a conference dealing with this question back in the spring. I thoroughly enjoyed the conference. Southeaster Baptist Theological Seminary is one of the most beautiful campuses I've ever been too. I love Wake Forest, NC, especially in the springtime. Hey, check out Jeff Riddle's post and Jacob Cerone's post on the conference. From there you can link to some other websites that did some write-ups worth checking out.

BIB515 Comes To A Close

My sections of BIB515 came to a close last night at 11:55 pm. This morning I was able to review our students structural and teaching outlines from a passage in Ephesians. Quite frankly, I am super impressed. It's hard to imaging how much these students have grown in the past six weeks–and they were an intensive six weeks! Before the class started each of my students took part in a pre-test. They probably thought their professor was crazy for giving them a test within the first two days of the start of the course. They must have looked over the questions and answers and thought, "What in the world is happening right now?!" But they did it. Did they pass the pre-test? Well, yes; all they had to do to receive a passing grade was do the test and do their best. Did they get all the answers right? Of course not. But the pre-test was helpful. Because yesterday they all completed their post-test. What did they have to do to get a passing grade on that one? Just take it and do their best. (I've got other ways for assessing them and assigning grades.) The results were pretty impressive. Here's just a sample from the question bank:
1. The New Testament was written in Greek, which was the koine language of the first century. What does the word koine indicate? 
2. Which letter in Greek has an alternate lower-case form? 
3. What is a lexicon? 
4. What punctuation would Greek use to ask a question? 
5. Where does a verb suffix occur? 
6. Which verb is in the future tense? 
7. In the following sentence, which word is a verb in the present tense? μέλλει γὰρ Ἡρῴδης ζητεῖν τὸ παιδίον τοῦ ἀπολέσαι αὐτό. 
8. In the following sentence, which word is a verb in the present tense? Ἐγὼ μὲν ὑμᾶς βαπτίζω ἐν ὕδατι εἰς μετάνοιαν.   
9. What does the word ἀκούω mean? 
10. What does the word βαπτίζω mean?   
11. What does the word βλέπω mean? 
12. If you saw a Greek noun ending in –ῳ, what case should immediately come to mind?    
13. If you saw a Greek noun ending in –οις, what case should immediately come to mind? 
14. Fill in the blank: The genitive case usually indicates _________? 
15. What does the word ἁμαρτωλός mean? 
16. What does the word υἱός mean? 
17. In the verb ἐλύετε what is the ἐ considered? 
18. In the verb ἐλύσατε what is the σα considered? 
19. True or False: If an author uses an aorist to describe an action, the action could have gone on for a period of time, been repeated, or occurred only once and finished. 
20. The verb ἠκολούθει occurs in John 6. The present tense stem is ἀκολουθέω. Is the occurrence in John 6 imperfect or aorist in tense? 
21. True or False: The forms of the middle voice and passive voice are identical.
I'm thrilled to report that the class average for the post-test was around 95. Not shabby at all. The great thing about doing a post-test is you get to really see the progress your students make, and you also get to see where you can help students succeed better in subsequent sections of the same course.

The thrust of our course is using New Testament Greek in ministry. We want our students to do those things that will deepen and enrich their ministries for the rest of their lives. You have to teach the grammar, but grammar in and of itself is not an end. It can't be. Studying the Bible is not an end in itself. There has to be praxis in the Christian life and theological education. So in addition to working through a Greek grammar, our students were doing things like word studies, syntactical analyses, structural analyses, teaching outlines, etc. throughout their 6 week study with me. They learned how to use Logos. And they learned a little about me along the way, especially what I think the most important thing to this life really is (Hint: Phil 1:27).

These two sections of Greek were exceptional. What was the best part? The short answer is seeing lives changed by God and the rich, beautiful Word of God. Lives were changed in this class. And this morning I am praising the Lord for all that he did.