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.