Saturday, April 18, 2015

Over At The Zoo Today

We've had lots and lots of fun having Lesly's grandma with us for a couple of weeks. It's hard to imagine the trip is coming to an end in just a few days. Today we went down to the National Zoo. Who can come to D.C. and not go to the Zoo, right? (And I'm not talking about the Hill!) We got to see Bao-Bao, some Elephants, some pythons, the otters, and all sorts of wild creatures. Grandma will never forget it!!!!

Friday, April 17, 2015

What Am I Looking At Right Now?

Star Wars "The Force Awakens" Speculation

I'll be there when SW comes out at Christmas time. I am waiting expectantly to see the redemption of the final three installments. (The last three that came out were pretty bad.) I watched the second trailer that was released this week. I haven't seen much of the speculation about Ford's words at the end. My own speculation: When Han says "We're home," he and Chewbaca are back on the Millennium Falcon for the first time in a long time. Home for them is the Falcon, not a planet or a place. That's my one and only participation in Star Wars speculation between now and Christmas.

A Picture From Jeff In Peru

Lesly and I were down in Peru just a couple of months ago. I was teaching Greek Exegesis of Philippians at SEL in Lima and Cusco. It was an unforgettable experience. It's hard to ease back into teaching in the United States when you're down in Latin America. Literally anything and everything you can offer a student is treasured like gold. My handout on the ten exegetical steps . . . you would have thought it was a Times bestseller. Jeff, who invited us down to teach in January and February, is back in Cusco teaching a class. He sent me a picture of it. Boy did it bring back great memories!!! I've been praying for this school, its leadership, the students, and Peru every day. Looking forward to returning.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Abuelita Is In Downtown D.C.

Lesly and our grandma are downtown enjoying the beautiful weather in Washington. I'm jealous! I'm at my office reading through Greek manuscripts, preparing the Uganda course, and checking on my students as they call in. I love what I do, but seeing this picture of grandma at the Washington Monument that Lesly just sent me has me wanting to make an exodus out of the office. I bet they are having the most wonderful afternoon. There's no doubt this is an unforgettable trip. I'm so glad we get to make these memories.

Talking About Bible Translation Over At Across The Atlantic

There's an interesting discussion starting up over at Across the Atlantic dealing with Bible translation. Interested? Just click here.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Actually See The People That God Puts Around You

I've been listening to music for years. I'll put my cards on the table and tell you I still enjoy Dave Matthews Band, John Mayer, Counting Crows, Sister Hazel, Dashboard, CCR, and a number of other bands that you won't hear on the Christian radio station. That doesn't mean I don't like Christian music. Of course, I do!!! Matt Redman's "10,000 Blessings." I mean, what believer doesn't love joining in to that song? Carl Cartee, the Getty's, etc. There's plenty of excellent Christian music too. I'm just saying, I still like some of the artists that I liked before the Lord saved me. I have a different filter though. And the truth is I get a glimpse into the human heart like I didn't get before. There's something about a talented artist who can paint a picture of life, relationships, and the human condition. It's almost like going down to the National Art Museum downtown and seeing how talented artists throughout history made life live on canvas and colored it to tell you something pretty interesting that might otherwise go unnoticed, even though they were just painting the life we live every single day.

One of the things that comes up in music over and over and over again is the feeling of being alone or unnoticed that humans have in life. There are so many people who feel like they could paint their hair pink, walk on their hands, scream when they talk, wear a shirt saying "I'm Here" and yet never be noticed. They feel like everyone in the world gets seen but somehow they go unnoticed. They feel like a small grain of sand on a 1,000 mile stretch of beach. That's a terrible feeling. Imagine feeling like you're not worth a glance, a second of someone's time, a pause in someone's hectic schedule. Imagine being the smallest being in the biggest universe. Loneliness is a crazy feeling to experience. That's why there is song after song about the subject. It's an emotion that no one wants to feel, but so many do. And there are so many caveats to this enigmatic emotion that artists can paint lonely songs about it a million times over.

I think there are a lot of people in churches around the world that experience this feeling too. It shouldn't be so, but I think that's true. I think there are a lot of people who don't know the Lord Jesus Christ–in places where we work, where we get our gas, in restaurants that we frequent, at our pharmacies, in our apartment complexes–who would give Jesus their consideration if only one person would give them a little bit of time and investment. Truth is, they'll give anyone and anything consideration, whoever and whatever shows them that they aren't just a grain of sand on a 1,000 mile stretch of beach. The Great Commission demands us to show the peoples of the world that they aren't unnoticed. God sees them; and because he sees them, we should see them too. It's really easy to get tunnel vision in our lives, even our "ministries." Can I encourage us all to take it up a notch and actually see the people that God puts around us? Who knows what God would do in and through us, with eternal significance, if we would be busy with people, not busy with agendas. I've put the next week in the Lord's hands, asking him to use me in people's lives. I want to see who I can notice. And I want them to go home feeling something different after coming into contact with me. I want them to feel like someone noticed them and what they do; and I want them to know that the Lord notices them too. He knows exactly who they are, where they are, and he wants them to follow him and have eternal life.

Lesly's Hard At Work

Mikel Del Rosario On Sensing The Biblical Languages

Mikel Del Rosario has a post called "5 Simple Ways to Use Your Senses to Learn Biblical Greek and Hebrew" over at the Going to Seminary blog. You can read it here. Alright, so you remember the senses from when you were in primary school: sight (eyes), smell (nose), sound (ears), taste (mouth), and touch (fingers). Mikel talks about how you can get the biblical languages better if you do more than just use your eyes and a textbook. I can't agree more. And he's got some pretty good ideas. If you can incorporate more of the senses in your language learning, you are definitely going to do better. Read passages out loud. Write vocab words out over and over again in Greek, along with their translations. Come up with goofy cartoons and songs to help you remember concepts or vocab. You've heard of whistling while you work? Well, sing a song when you study your Greek. Let your exposure to Greek be in the place where you're hopefully going to see and use it most, namely your own Greek New Testament. Don't let your exposure to Greek be in your introductory Greek grammar alone. Crack open that precious GNT and start looking at it, sounding words out that you don't know yet, and just getting a feel for spending time in it. Activate your senses and the languages will become a better friend, not a seminary foe.

Grandma Made Me Lunch

Celebrate When You Hit The Finish Line, Not A Second Before

There's a video moving through the Internet of a college track runner from Oregon calling the crowds to cheer in celebration as he nears the finish line. It's already got over a million views. The problem: He hadn't crossed the finish line yet, and he gets passed in the last stretch! I couldn't help but think about this picture in relation to our Christian life. Isn't there a danger in celebrating too soon? Think about what the apostle Paul said:

"Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God" (Heb. 12:1-2). Endurance, endurance, endurance. It means running the race all the way until it's done.

" . . . holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain" (Phil. 2:16). The race is run when the glorious day of Christ is before you.

"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith" (2 Tim. 4:7). When you finish the course, you finish the course. But an inch before means the race is still on and unfinished. Don't wind down, no matter what.

"Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win" (1 Cor. 9:24). Run, run, run. 

Seminary students, no one would have a graduation party the night they get their acceptance letter. Celebrate the finish lines, the mini-races along the way. But when it's time to run, run. 

Monday, April 13, 2015

Teaching At Bradburn Memorial Bible Church

Yesterday Lesly, me, and our grandmother had the privilege of spending time with the Bradburn Memorial Bible Church believers. It was a wonderful time of fellowship and teaching. Our Sunday School was engaged as we looked into what it means to be great in Jesus' kingdom. And then we turned to Ephesians 5 in the main service. I'm amazed at some of the believers at Bradburn. They have an energy that puts most of the younger creyentes to shame in the circles where I am. Having more candles on your birthday cake doesn't mean you slow down the way you live for Christ. The individuals I'm referring to at Bradburn are ramping up. Even Lesly's grandmother couldn't believe it. She's extremely active too, at 67 years old. But she said to me once we got in the car, "They sure have a lot of energy." The one person that grandma was specifically mentioning is 89 years old! And living wide open for the Lord Jesus. I tell you what. Watching that example of serving King Jesus yesterday was the reason why the Lord took us over there. Jesus deserves all the strength we can muster up. Lord, I'm about to down-shift. Not slowing down. Just gonna ramp up my RPMs. I want to get to that finish line exhausted, not having coasted along (or worse, getting towed in).

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Friday, April 10, 2015

Another Recommendation For ALGNT

I just read this review of Aprenda a leer el griego del Nuevo Testamento over at Luis Jovel's website:
"Yo tengo el libro de Black que tiene que ver con Griego Intermedio. Su modo de explicar las cosas es simple, y eso le ayudará a cualquier principiante que estudia esta lengua. Se los recomiendo mucho, y lo pueden conseguir de aquí, y de aquí."
Thanks, Luis. Glad you like the book.

Just Read The Forums For NT Use Of The OT

I'm teaching a course called The New Testament Use of the Old Testament right now. We are into Week 2 and I'm already seeing lots of growth. The students are wrestling with issues in the Gospels and Acts this week. Can I give you a taste? Here are the three questions they are working through, having read a handful of texts:
1.What aspects of this week’s readings were problematic for you? In other words, what didn’t you agree with and why? (We always start our discussions with this first forum question.)
2. What Old Testament verses does Jesus use during his temptation? Why does he use these, and what does it say about the sufficiency of the Old Testament? What other verses from the Old Testament could Jesus have used for each temptation? Explain how they would have been fitting responses. 
3. Explain how Isa. 9:1–2 is used in Matt. 4:12–16. Be sure to give a brief summary of its contexts in Isaiah and Matthew. What is its literary and prophetic function in Matthew? Use at least three scholarly sources to answer this question. 
One of our students picked up on something that pops up in the "scholarly" literature again and again. Is the Word of God actually the Word of God? I believe it is. The message is channeled through human authors, but ultimately it comes from God himself. But if we aren't careful, we can buy into the opinion that Scripture is nothing different than any of the other literary works we find outside the canon. I'm jumping too far ahead. Let me share this student's insight:
"I would say what is most problematic for me with this week’s reading, in particular the redaction examination of Acts and the overall technical analysis of God’s Holy Word, is it seems very critical. These scholars are obviously very well versed in the art and science of hermeneutics and are well intentioned in applying methodologies in deciphering the real author's as well as the human author’s intended meaning. However, I took issue and got a little offended that the commentary notes that 'At the opposite end of the spectrum we have the proposal that Luke is essentially a writer of fiction…and it can be assumed that the speech material in particular is his own creation' (p. 515). Where do we draw the line between looking critical at the text and attacking the canon of Scripture? Is it fair for biblical scholars to harshly criticize and deconstruct the canon of Scripture while marginalizing an inspired writer? Also, since the days of the flannel graph and Vacation Bible School, most laity (I included) has been taught that Luke was a well-educated physician and a careful and exact historian. This contrasts greatly with what is stated about Luke on page 515 – 'Barrett, working as a critical historian who submits the material to a rigorous analysis, concludes that Luke was not always well or fully informed on what happened and did the best that he could with the available sources; the speeches are basically his own work.' Reading this was quite challenging for me. In criticizing the canon of Scripture and the inspired writer, isn’t this ultimately criticizing the Original Author? And how does what we have in our Bible differ from the Apocrypha, if men are simply writing their own thoughts?
That's a really great question. What makes the Gospel according to Matthew different from  Maccabees or something written by Walt Whitman or Homer? Running the words of Scripture through a filter that doesn't have a proper view of biblical inspiration is dangerous exegesis. But it's a common thing to do. Even if scholars affirm the resurrection of Jesus, many will run the rest of the Gospels through a filter that ignores the nature of the Gospels. They are literary works. But, like the Son who died on the cross, they have a dual nature. Scripture is entirely divine, entirely human. Every single word that was written was penned by a human individual; at the same time, not a single word appeared that did not first have its origin in God himself.

It seems like I dwell on this point over and over again. But it's important. We need to firm up our understanding of the biblical texts. We need to have a better grasp of what it means for the biblical texts to be inspired. And we need to come to the text in such a way that reflects our desire for our life to be filtered by it, rather than subjecting the biblical text to filters that end up removing much of grandeur that God obviously intended to shake us to our core, convict us of our sin, and solidify our faith in him and the message that is power to those of us who are being saved.

What the unbelieving world does with the Scriptures I have no control over, nor do I have an expectation that it will be handled with accuracy. When, on the other hand, I hear of evangelicals flirting with the idea that something in Gospels "didn't really happen," I'm alert and praying. We need to keep championing the miraculous nature of the Bible!

I'm all for studying the Word of God with depth. But it starts with understanding the nature of the biblical text; then with having the right hermeneutic, the right parameters for interpreting the Word of God; then with placing oneself under the Word and studying it from below looking up, humbly and expectant that God will make himself and his ways known through the words found written there in our Bibles.