Saturday, November 28, 2015

All Day Downtown, And Now We're Home

Lesly and I just spent the whole day downtown with her mother. We went to the zoo, walked around Chinatown, and went to the Christmas tree lighting ceremony in City Center. We had a blast! It's hard to imagine that Lesly's mom will be leaving us tomorrow. Time's flown by. This week feels like a blip on the radar. But we seized the week, lived it to the max, and, while we are sad to see it end, we are full of memories that we'll never forget.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

The Thanksgiving Dinner Was Delicious!

The Table Looks Amazing!

Lesly has been planning a really amazing Thanksgiving Day dinner. She hasn't held anything back. She's all in. Just look at how she set the table. Beautiful! It's all set and ready to go. Now we just need some turkey on the table. Let me go check on things.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Seminary Professor And Personal Trainer: Two Roles That Go Hand In Hand

There's more to teaching in seminary than standing in front of a class and waxing eloquent on all sorts of things. The classroom is an important component to seminary education. There's absolutely no question about that. But, and this is a big "but," there is more–way more–to being a professor. Not a day goes by where I don't think about Luke 6:40 and 2 Tim. 3:10-11, the two most important verses that explain what it means to "train" like we're told to do in the Great Commission. There's more to "training" than just content. There's more to "training" than just knowing what the teacher knows. Real training teaches material, but it also attempts to get down below the surface and touch that part of us that God is conforming into the image of his Son.

I've only had a personal trainer at a gym once in my life. Just once. I was thinking about that experience today. My trainer was focused on me. There were a lot of people at the gym, lots of members, but I was the only that mattered to him when we were working out. He did more than tell me about the weights, the different exercises, or what the best smoothie or protein shake was for a post-triceps burnout. He got into my life. "So what are you eating?" "What time are you going to bed each night?" "What are you doing with your stress?" He wanted to know what my goals were: Did I want to be a body builder that could one day put Arnold to shame with my chiseled bod, or did I just want to get rid of that panza that just won't disappear no matter what I try? And he didn't assume I knew everything, not even the second and third week when I showed up to L.A. Fitness. He went back over things that he had already showed me, making sure I got it right, especially the way certain machines needed to be used and how good form mattered a lot so that I wouldn't injure myself and so I would get the most of my reps and sets. He used to show me how to use the equipment, not just tell me how to use it. For some of the machines at those gyms, you need someone to show you. That diagram stuck on the side of the machine can sometimes do more damage than good. I remember another thing about my trainer. He wasn't the smoothie guy. He was the "expert" on getting in shape, and he was in shape himself.

Students in seminary need some personal training too. Some just need a half hour, some an hour or two. But that personal attention is important for grasping what they need to learn. And students need to know that if they need some personal training, the prof is ready to go! Being the professor and personal trainer go hand in hand. With my students, we're not lifting weights or getting physically buff. But we are doing some serious workouts. The Greek classes are hard. No question about it. And these students are breaking a major sweat each day of each week. We are learning how to use some equipment, but ours are books–Greek grammars, lexicons, dictionaries, commentaries, and Bible software. And we are learning how to do the exercises, things like identifying and thinking through a syntactical issue or diagramming a discourse unit in Greek. And we do a whole lot more. We talk about life. We talk about our walks with the Lord. We talk about the main thing and living the life Jesus wants us to live. We talk about ministry. We talk about ups and we talk about downs. We talk about how the best grade you can get in a seminary is an "F" for "Faithful" (Matt. 25:23). We talk about how much is required of those who receive much from the Lord. And we pray together.

The two roles go hand in hand. I'm convinced that if I want to be the most effective professor, I have to be the most invested personal trainer to those who need it. After all, the same applies to me doesn't it? "To whom much is given, much is required." I'm committed by God's grace to having a "much" ministry. And tonight I'm thanking the Lord for "much" he's given and done in my life.

The Girls Went To D.C. Today

Lesly's mom is visiting with us this week. Guess what? My wife couldn't be happier. There's nothing like when mom is in town. Right now they are upstairs and I hear their voices going back and forth. There's lots to talk about. They talk every single night, but there's something about when you're standing face to face with someone you love.

Today the girls ventured down to the District. I decided to stay back, so that Lesly and her mom could just have a special day. I dropped them off at the metro around 9 a.m. Guess what time I picked them up? –Almost 9 p.m. They watched the sunset over at the Lincoln Memorial, visited some stores in Chinatown, hit up a Starbucks, checked out the White House (although they couldn't get as close as they liked because the President was out back pardoning some turkeys when they were there). They had an absolute blast. Nothing makes me happier than to see my girl smiling from ear to ear. And nothing makes that smile quite as wide as when mom is nearby.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

One Of The Best Date Spots In The World Just Opened Up Across The Street

Men, listen to me. If you're looking for somewhere special to take your bride, find yourself a Krispy Kreme. This is one of our favorite date spots. Can you believe they just opened one up across the street? The next closest up here in Yankee land is just a short walk from the White House downtown, and you know how parking can be down there!

Friday, November 20, 2015

A Quick Note From My President

I was in Atlanta all week for the ETS annual meeting. When I got to the office this morning, I had a short note from President Teague. The note meant a lot. Our president is an encourager. He loves to just let us know we are on his mind and in his prayers. It means a lot when you have an administration like the one we have here at LBC|Capital.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Now That's A Fun Game

Paul Himes has got a game that might give dodge ball a run for its money. It involves Greek and parsing. Read about it here. Paul, keep up the great work, brother.

Touch Points With My Greek Students

Our Greek students are working on their Greek exegesis project this week and next week. There are two parts. This week's assignment (Part 1) consists of three analyses: historical, textual, and lexical. Each student has selected a discourse unit from the Greek New Testament. Fourteen total. This week I've been interacting with them about their projects, but Monday and Friday are the real big days to touch base with them. I meet with each student for about 30 to 45 minutes, either in person or via some sort of call, to go over where they are at and field any questions they might have or help them get over any hurdles they've encountered. This is a really important moment for the students. The students know they can reach me every day throughout the course (I have a 24 hour policy for getting back to emails and phone calls, and my office is always open). This opportunity is really special though because this is their project. This is their analysis of a Greek passage that they wanted to work through. Well, I can't wait for tomorrow. I've got appointments scheduled straight from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. No better thing to come back from ETS and do than work directly with my students. They are the reason we are here. In some way, shape, or form, I am going to go with my students to every single mission field they serve over the years through what we learn to do in our classes, especially from touch points like we have tomorrow. And there is nothing more amazing that, if you ask me.

Back From Atlanta And ETS

I was down in Atlanta all week for the annual meeting for the Evangelical Theological Society. I had a great time, especially catching up with lots of friends. The best presentation was no doubt Danny Akin's titled "Building Great Commission Families." Folks, living for the Great Commission begins at home, but living for the Great Commission can't and doesn't stop at home. It was an excellent and very practical presentation. I'm so thankful to Danny and the investment he made in my life. Southeastern has a very, very special place in my heart. I ventured over to some Greek sections, but was sorely disappointed. But that's the way it goes sometimes at conferences. It can be very hit or miss. One thing that is never hit or miss is the quality time I get to spend with people though. Hanging out with my colleagues at Lancaster and Capital was so important and such a pleasurable experience. I got to see my friend Bob Olsen (one of the coolest guys in the world) who teaches down at the University of Mobile. I visited my friends from The Master's Seminary at their evening reception. It was so nice to see Michael Grisanti, Larry Pettegrew, Greg Harris, Keith Essex, and some of the guys I went to school with. I swung by the Wipf and Stock table. They didn't have my book on the table (sigh), but they did have my friend Paul Hime's book on 1 Peter. I had a great lunch this afternoon with B&H. Hanging out with Chris Cowan, Chris Thompson, Jim Baird, and Ray Clendenen for a short while meant a lot to me. You know, we wouldn't have Dave Black's Greek grammar in Spanish were it not for their Great Commission focus, which is not something you find in Christian publishing all the time. I got to catch up with my good friend Jacob Cerone too! There was a lot going on. I feel energized and drained all at once. It's great to be back home for sure. But one more thing before I share the pictures. For me the most special moment of the whole conference was a big hug from Danny Akin and just a few words that meant the world to me, "You make us proud, Thomas. So proud of you, brother."

Friday, November 13, 2015

Rolling Discussion: What's One Thing You Wish You Would Have Learned In Your Greek Class But Didn't?

No class can cover everything. It doesn't matter what the subject matter is (e.g., theology, counseling, hermeneutics, etc.), you simply can't cover everything. And that goes for my classes as well–all of them. I'm curious if there is something you wish you would have learned in your Greek class but didn't. Share it with us here in the comments section. I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts.

What's It Look Like In Our Greek Class?

Here are a few pictures from our Greek class this week. Here are just few things that I would point out about our Greek classes here at Capital. (1) Our students work together. We really believe in cooperative learning here at Capital. (2) We embrace technology. You're going to learn Greek grammar, but we want you to bring to class and use in class anything and everything that you're going to be using day-in-and-day-out in ministry for the rest of your lives. (3) You have to think about exegesis every day in our Greek classes. We do not postpone thinking about the difference Greek makes in our study of the New Testament. The real fuel for continued use in Greek ministry, in my humble opinion, is (1) showing students that it makes a difference sooner rather than later and (2) helping them dig for these treasures for themselves and thinking through them together as a group.