on learning Greek

saw this quote in the interview over at Cliff’s blog that you’ll definitely want to read (about a new project between  Baylor and Mohr Siebeck):

if nothing else, learning Greek will teach you that you can’t bluff your way through everything in life!

-Dr. Naomi Norman

This is just so true!  You cannot bluff your way through NT Greek no matter how hard you try, and you know what many try to do that in life and as usual, in the end, end up with the short end of the stick…

Good food for thought here.  :-)

on spiritual disciplines

I was talking with a friend about the spiritual disciplines yesterday.  I know not all are in agreement about them or at least how to go about them or even what they are.  I think the ones Richard Foster covers are the classical ones and the most widely agreed upon ones.

Basically, what I we talked about was the main idea that they are “disciplines.”  It takes work and effort to do them and be consistent about it.  It takes discipline to read the Bible regularly; to pray consistently; to fast, to study; and so on.  If it is easy for some, then perhaps it is not a discipline anymore or perhaps it just means that because of discipline, it doesn’t take as much effort as maybe it used to or did in the beginning.

Prayer can take work.  Praying five minutes, perhaps for some takes work but not usually.  Just the notion of praying for an hour a day overwhelms most people.  But even so, one can decide they will pray an hour a day.  They get started and WOW – they realize its a LOT harder than they thought it would be – now its a discipline.

(and I do want to note here I think there is a difference in praying for one specific hour and doing nothing else, and “praying all day.”  Its not the same.  And I think at the end of the day, the first is more “effective” than the second).

Additionally however, the idea of discipline is to build strength and endurance.  Over time, with consistency, one can go for longer periods of time in any given activity if they persist and “discipline” themselves.

This is key because with discipline comes growth, maturity, and for many, real and true breakthrough in their lives.

What might I mean by breakthrough?  Well, Well, usually it has to do with overcoming some thing that could be going on in ones life or personal relationships, even in one’s community of faith.   Things like dealing with depression or feeling frustrated about a situation or circumstance.  Even making it to an hour in prayer or getting to that 5th chapter of daily Bible reading and here is the big one – making it to the 5th day of fasting.

The reason many never really experience the breakthrough they desire is they do not pass the threshold.

The threshold is the place of breakthough.

Breakthrough in praying an hour a day usually does not come in the first 5 minutes but really that last 5 min, but you have to press on til you get there.  The same is with fasting.  Most people give up the day or two when the breakthrough won’t come til after the 5th day.  Seriously.  I know some are not going to believe me when they read this but it is true.

Its like staying awake all night – it gets rough but if you press on, after the hump of about 3-4 am (usually) breakthrough comes and  you can pull off the rest of the night.

But here is the deal – you have to build up to it.  It takes time and discipline.  “Stick-to-it-ofness.”  One has to stick to it, keep at it – press in and press on – then the breakthrough will come.

So, in what sense is a spiritual discipline “discipline”?  When it takes some effort to do it – be it fasting, prayer, Bible reading, etc.

One last thing – I do think the “formula” (i know thats not good, lol) for true spiritual growth and transformation lies in that triad – Prayer (1hr a day); Fasting (1 day weekly; 5-7 days periodically); and Bible reading (min 5 chapts daily).

And forget not too, we have the Holy Spirit, the “paraclete.”  The one who can be and is our help and strength in practicing the spiritual disciplines.

Try it! You’ll like it!


on 1 Tim 3:2

Dave Black writes:

“Teachable” or “able to teach”?

Is the New Testament elder to be a man who is “able to teach” or a man who is “teachable” (1 Timothy 3:2)? The latter is the rendering of the ISV, for several reasons. Not only is the translation “teachable” allowed by the Greek lexicons, but it is also in keeping with the context. Paul’s list of qualifications for elders has more to do with a man’s character than with his abilities.

And, if you think about it, aren’t the best teachers “teachable,” that is, people who are constantly excited about what they are learning and therefore eager to pass it on to others?

If a man wants to be an elder, let him be teachable in the hands of the Master and open to the teaching and reproof of others. The man who has nothing to learn has nothing to teach and no place in the ministry of the church.


Love it!!  :-)

Book Review: Handy Guide to NT Greek

Handy GuideIt is with thanks to the kind folks at Kregel Academic that I have the chance to do this review of Doug Huffman’s  (Biola) The Handy Guide to New Testament Greek: Grammar, Syntax, and Diagramming (The Handy Guide Series) (Greek Edition) (2013).

As I see it, this little book (112 pages and 7.4 x 5.1 x 0.3 in) is somewhat the NT Greek “equivalent” of Ron Williams’ Hebrew Syntax book.  Both, in my estimation should be on the pastors desk pretty much at all times.

This book is for that pastor or bible teacher, even student who has completed at least one year of Greek and is into their second year and beyond as a support to busy pastors and teachers as a “useful tool and a ready reference” to encourage continued study of NT Greek beyond seminary and or Bible college life.  Its sized to be of similar size to the GNT (either UBS or NA) so that it would basically always be attached to it (more or less).  It is not a grammar and not intended to replace a grammar but to supplement personal study of the GNT and or aide in teaching or preaching preparation.  This is assuming pastors and teachers are working directly from the GNT.  Again, this Handy Guide presumes rudimentary knowledge of NT Greek and is designed for review and further study of grammar, syntax and or diagramming.

The book is laid out in 3 parts: Part 1 covers “Greek Grammar Reminders” (with enough English to be managable). This section basically gives a rundown of what one might see in a standard grammar yet in a very simplified form and basic explanations that go with each of the major categories such as with Nouns, Adjectives, Adverbs, First, Second, Third declensions, etc.  Charts abound throughout as well for all the various paradigms.

Part two summarizes Greek syntax in the form of “usage guides” for the various cases (for example).  As an example, for the Aroist, he lists constative, ingressive, culminative, epistolary, proleptic, dramatic, gnomic.  So in a way it is a super selective and compact version of Wallace’s GGBB.

Part three covers phrase diagramming.  The general purpose of diagramming is to better understand the flow of thought in any given passage under study.  Huffman covers technical, phrase, semantic and arching diagramming.

It really is a useful tool and ready reference and I would say don’t hesitate to pick it up and if I were to teach second year Greek or higher, I would certainly consider this a required text.


on the resurrection

Good thought here from Tim Keller posted to his Facebook page:

If Jesus rose from the dead, then you have to accept all that he said; if he didn’t rise from the dead, then why worry about any of what he said?

The issue on which everything hangs is not whether or not you like his teaching but whether or not he rose from the dead.


Work as Worship

Our work is a form of worship.

I don’t really have the energy for a solid exegesis on a theology of work – i just wanted to share some things.  I recently have been working at a local vineyard here where we live now (right now the focus is trimming the vines for the new harvest) – so I spend my days out in the middle of a bunch of vines by myself usually – there are other workers (all migrant workers) but its all spread out and for a while I’ve been working in a section where I have been all my myself.  Lately, its been really cold too so that has been a challenge – keeping the focus while working in 30 and 4o degree temps and keeping a good pace as we do have a set number of vines we need to get done each day – preferrably 40+ a day.

Being out in the vineyard trimming vines, you do have to be focused (there is a particular way to do the trimming, its not random) so it can feel a bit “mindless” so to speak but I’ve been working to discipline myself to have plenty of time to think while working – and being in introvert, thinking a lot is how I process things (thinking can be good and bad for me, lol).  While its been good to be out there – again the cold has been really challenging and leaves me feeling very tired at the end of the day – I am not the kind of introvert that necessarily thrives on being alone for overly long periods of time necessarily.

So I was thinking about work today.  Its what we are made to do.  Well, we were made to love God and to glorify him, but among other things,  we were made to work.  As I like to say, when God put Adam in the garden, what did he tell him to do?  Yup – “Get to work!”  lol.   Even more, we are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do good work(s).  Whatever we do, we need to do it all in the name of the Lord and in an effort to glorify him.

Here’s how I think about work, my theology of work so to speak – I think we are each called to do the best possible work we can in what ever kind of work we are doing – no sloppy work allowed.  I think in doing the best work we can, we glorify God and we bless our employers and whoever it is we are “working” for, i.e., customers, etc.  God and people and even we ourselves deserve our best work – all the time, every time.  I think too, if we are the workers and not the boss – we should be the best worker our boss has.  If we are the boss, we should be the best boss our workers have.  If we are the owners, etc, whatever our role in the work we do – we are called to put forth our best work every time. Every day.

I think its part of our witness to God and Christ in this world – to not just be be hard workers, but good workers and to do good work.   Anything short of that is not right in my estimation.

If you ask me, too many Christians out there are bad workers – they complain too much, are always showing up late, leaving early and do sloppy work – they ask for time off and are not always trustworthy workers – and yet expect to be able to witness on the job and wonder why they just end up getting laughed at or scolded or even fired or let go – they have ruined their witness through their poor work.  This is, in my opinion.   One of the best ways to be a witness to and for Christ in a work environment is first and foremost to DO good work and BE a good worker – let the good work be the pathway to effective witness.   In other words, I think your good work, will back up your good words!    If you know you are not a good worker, keep your mouth shut!  lol  Turn to God in repentance and become a good worker who does good work!  Then, tf and when people see your good work(s) they may praise God in heaven and be open to hearing your good words!

Our work is a form of worship.

When we work – we do it as worship unto God – and God is worthy of all our worship!  We need to remember that ultimately God is our boss – he alone is the one we are responsible and accountable to.  If or when we do sloppy work – he’ll probably want an explanation.  lol.  Now, I know we all get tired, that is what rest is for.  If we find we are tired and doing poor work maybe we need to think about how we are utilizing our times of rest?  Do we truly rest or are we always “working” so to speak?   But I think in general, there should not be any excuses for sloppy work insofar as we are able.  God, our bosses, our workers, even we ourselves, deserve our best and nothing less.

When you go to work, when you do your work – remember – it is WORSHIP unto God!  Do it well!  Don’t just be a hard worker or work hard, do good work.  :-)