Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Block Those Annoying Ads

One of my good, good friends just sent me an email with an awesome link. My whining paid off this time. He told me to check out Adblock Plus (available here). I installed this plug-in and it only took like three seconds. Guess what? It works. And it's free. There are still ads, just not the ones that affect actually viewing content. I'm sold. To my friend, I am in your debt. You helped me love the Internet again. One problem. Then I tried to access the INTF website and view some New Testament manuscripts. The Adblocker was blocking the manuscripts, even when I disable it on that particular site. I'll just disable the plug-in when viewing manuscripts.

Still, Fox, Breitbart, and everyone else, should we really have to install a plug-in to keep you from ruining our Internet experience? Come on, do us all a favor and just place flat, stationary, motionless ads on your website. Can you imagine holding a newspaper in your hand and some crazy 3D person jumping off the page saying "Buy some Ray-Bans, Buy some Ray-Bans"? You just want to read the newspaper right. You don't want to have to click "close ad" to get to your article.

Some Advice For Breitbart, Fox, DailyMail, Etc.

Got some time for some whine? I wish all of the news stations would get rid of the annoying pop-up, slide out, and fade in ads that really just make their websites a nuisance and make me want to disconnect from what's going on in the world. Your job is to bring me the news, but if you drive me so crazy with your ads that you make me hate visiting your site, then you in effect cannot do your job. I get it. Ads make money. But there seriously has to be another way than driving your audiences crazy. And hey, Fox, one more thing . . . people hate the click "read more" feature (especially just so you can have the ads pop up). I've already totally disconnected myself from The Blaze. I stopped looking at that website two or so years ago in part because I didn't want to listen to Glenn Beck cry anymore and also because of the never ceasing pop up asking the audience to register every time they clicked on an article. The Drudge Report might not have all the bells and whistles, but at least they don't drive us crazy with nonsense that pops up constantly. Notice, by the way, they do have ads. They just don't interrupt me from getting to the content. Breitbart, I like you a lot. Fox, not so much anymore (Hannity is the best thing y'all have going for you). But I'd like you both a lot more if you would fix the crazy pop ups. I'm serious. If your customer service people want some more feedback, send me an email. It's on the About Us page.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Special Thanks To Lenee' Valentine And Her Team

Our building hosted a ice-cream social this afternoon. It's actually the second time they have had this event for us. And let me just tell you, it is without a doubt my favorite. I got quadruple chocolate. I don't know how that happens, but somehow that was what I got (I love chocolate by the way!). I don't do recommendations often on the blog, but if you're looking for an opportunity to create community and show your staff or building you appreciate them, shoot Lenee' an email. Her website is available here. They do much more than ice cream too! This is Lenee's team in the picture below.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Why Is It So Easy To Talk Culture, Yet So Hard To Talk About The Bible?

I received an email from a upcoming sophomore in college this morning. Lesly and I were hanging out yesterday with some friends. Lots of topics were discussed––things like whether modern Greek helps people understand the New Testament better, how we should think about politics, whether Christians should be allowed to own and carry guns, and more spiritual issues like how to study the Bible better, the significance of what Jesus did for us on the cross, evangelism, etc. I posed a question to the group last night: "Why is it so much easier for people to engage in conversations about culture and politics, yet it appears so difficult to talk about Christ and the Scriptures?" I mean seriously, sometimes (and sometimes a lot of time) you can hear a pin drop when you ask a question about the Bible in a group setting. The email I received this morning was about that question. Here's part of it:
"After the time spent discussing political issues yesterday, you asked something along the lines of, 'How come we can talk for hours on end about things like politics (anything in general), but we can't seem to do the same thing with the Bible?' I remember that after a couple of comments were offered, you said part of it has to do with our misconception of authority––people have the tendency of letting the teachers do all the talking while they just listen. . . . An obvious answer to your question, though nobody said it, is that people have no interest in talking about the Bible and can get away with it, under the pretense of your offered answer as to why people don't discuss. . . . Either way both reasons are problematic . . . . I'm so glad you asked the question because it's definitely something I have to reflect on . . . a lot!"
Great email! I wrote back this morning. Here's part of my response:
"You raise an interesting point in your answer to the question. We often assume that people read and study the Bible. But that’s a pretty baseless assumption. People tend to discuss and engage in conversations about topics in which they are interested and personally versed. That explains why people can talk for hours on end from topics like Harry Potter and Star Wars to Trump and immigration. I have an interesting twist to your answer that I thought of this morning. Think about this. You can become pretty familiar with things like Harry Potter and Star Wars and all sorts of political issues (especially during an election season) without having to exert really the slightest bit of personal effort. Society feeds this information to everyone. It’s almost impossible to avoid it. And so, whether a person tries to or not, they are cognizant of and generally interested in the culture in which they live—obviously with varying degrees of knowledge and interest. Exposure to biblical and theological matters and issues is not as passive as exposure to culture. We live in culture. The only way, I suppose, to make discussing these matters have the same freedom, openness, and engagement as we do with cultural matters—again, I suppose—is to live in the world of the Bible and theology . . . And not as a standoffish fanatic or weirdo, but rather as one who winsomely lives in both worlds, wanting to be changed by one and wanting to be used to change the other."
And which world ought to be changing us? ––The world of Scripture. And which one should we seek to change, influence, and leverage our lives to have the maximum possible impact? ––Our society and culture.

Again, great email. The truth is there are varied and many reasons as to why groups find it easier to talk culture than talk gospel. There's no one-size-fits-all answer. One thing we definitely need to remember is our capacity to influence our society in a way that honors and pleases Christ hinges really on whether or not we have a real, personal commitment to having the Scriptures in a place where they can transform the way we think and ultimately the way we live.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Have You Visited The YouTube Channel Lately?

There are lots of new videos available at my YouTube channel. If you're studying New Testament Greek or interested in how you can start digging deeper in your lexical and syntactical analyses, these videos will get you started. Check them out and do enjoy! You can get there by clicking here.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Thinking About Syntax And The Greek New Testament

What is syntactical analysis and how is it different than lexical analysis? While the study of the Greek New Testament includes the study of individual words in the contexts where they appear, word studies are not the end all be all in exegesis. Analyzing syntax is an important step. This video introduces this critical step and provides an introductory framework by which we can begin to think about the syntax of the Greek New Testament. There is more to using Greek than just doing word studies. We have to think about syntax too. And believe me, when we do, our study of the New Testament will be forever changed for the better.

Celebrating Our Anniversary

Lesly and I celebrated our eighth anniversary yesterday. What a wonderful eight years it's been too! Lesly is my closest friend and the love of my life, and my life is forever changed for the better by every single second I get to spend with her. It's hard to imagine that it's been eight years, eleven if you count how long we've known each other. Yesterday we celebrated in the evening by going to one of our favorite restaurants––Mission Barbecue. Then we went for a walk and took in a movie. It was truly a perfect day!

Lesly, you're my favorite person in the world. I love you with all my heart. You have this amazing capacity to pull out the best in me and push me to do the very best and the very most with my life. You're the most caring person in the world that I know and have the most tender heart in the world. You serve others with sincerity and humility and model for me everyday what it looks like to esteem others as more important than yourself. Having you in my life, in so many ways, is like having a picture of the work God wants to do in my heart and my mind. And I can never express just how amazing you are, how beautiful you are, and how much you're loved, especially by me. Thank you for giving me your heart and spending your life with me. I love you, girl.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Identifying Lexical Issues In A Commentary

One of the steps you need to know how to do when studying a passage from the New Testament is called lexical analysis. You might be more familiar with its other name––word studies. Now lexical analysis is not the end all be all of exegesis. It's not magical and it's not the only thing we need to do in studying our New Testament. Believe me, there is so much more to using Greek in our study of the New Testament. I promise you. But how do we go about identifying a lexical issue, especially when we are reading through a commentary? And what difference does it make whether we wrestle with a lexical issue or not? Why should we invest extra time in studying the meaning of a given word if that's all it is––a word? In this video we look at Moisés Silva's Philippians commentary and think through the main verb in Phil. 1:27. Lexical analysis matters. There's no question about that. It's not everything in exegesis, but it definitely matters.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Read "Satan, Judas, And The Events Leading Up To The Cross"

I have a post over at the Energion Discussion Network you will definitely be interested in reading. It's titled "Satan, Judas, and the Events Leading Up to the Cross." You can read it here. Don't be shy. Join the discussion and post a comment.