Bookgiveaway @

Dan @ Bibledude dot net is doing a splurge of book giveaways this month and the present giveaway is a book on the Gospel of Luke by Michael Card.  Here is some notes about it:

Michael Card has made his mark as a musician, but his latest project looks pretty interesting. The book reads like a commentary as Card shares his thoughts passage-by-passage through the Gospel of Luke. Today’s resource also comes with a sampler CD of music inspired by this project!

Luke: The Gospel of Amazement (The Biblical Imagination Series) by Michael Card (IVP, 2011).

“His father and mother were amazed at what was being said about Him.” Luke 2:33 “Everyone was amazed at all the things He was doing.” Luke 9:43 “He went home, amazed at what had happened.” Luke 24:12

From start to finish, the book of Luke is filled with amazement. Throughout the life and ministry of Jesus, those who met him were astonished by their encounter, from the shepherds at the nativity to the disciples at the empty tomb.

With careful attention to detail, Michael Card embarks on an imaginative journey through the Gospel of Luke. He introduces us to Luke the historian and imagines his life as a Gentile, a doctor and a slave. Card explores Luke’s compelling account of this dynamic rabbi who astounded his hearers with parables and paradoxes. What might Luke have experienced as he interviewed eyewitnesses of Jesus? What leads Luke to focus on the marginalized and the unlikely? Why does Luke include certain details that the other Gospel writers omit? Join Michael Card in the work of opening heart and mind to the “Gospel of Amazement.”

On a personal note, I know Card may not be a biblical scholar per se, but after reading Tim Gombis’s The Drama of Ephesians, I like these kinds of non-traditional approaches to writing on books of the Bible – Eugene Peterson does this too and I like it.  If, and that could be a big if, I win a copy, I promised to review it.  We’ll see how it goes.

On the chaos in Eygpt

Jim West is all fired up because he feels those supposed biblical scholars, theologians and pastors who have not said something about the situation in Eygpt either on their blogs or some other medium have effectively abdicated their position as pastors, scholars and theolgians – he wants to know why no one is saying anything.  He has offered his input and has several posts on it.  Now, he wants to see others speak up too.

Well, I suppose every Christian is a theologian in some sense of the word as to “do theology” is to think or talk about God – so that is what most Christians do (or should be doing at some point in their day and lives), therefore every Christian is a theologian.

I have some minimum theology training (MDiv) so I suppose I am in some sense I am a pastor/scholar/theologian – what do I have to say about the situation in Egypt?

My encouragement is something every Christian can and should do – it doesn’t have to be extensive but it can and should be done:

Pray for the people and nation of Egypt – Pray for them earnestly – intercede before the throne of God on their behalf, that he would be Lord over that nation and people; that he would move among them and be the Prince of Peace.  Pray the Spirit of God would work among the leaders and people to bring conviction of sin, righteousness and judgment.  Pray that their hearts will be turned to him in repentance (he is really the one whom they are seeking though they know it or not).

How else can you intercede for them? Read the stories coming through the news and pray specifically for various needs and situations as they come up – that Mubarak would indeed resign and that their would be peace in the setting up of a new government; pray the chaos will die down and the curfews lifted; pray for the protection of lives and relationships; pray for the protection of the culture and that any and all destruction due to the violence would be minimum and come to an end.  I could go on and on and on – read the sources and allow the Spirit to lead you and your prayers and intercessions for the people and nation of Egypt.  We are a people of the Spirit, he can lead us in our prayers, we should follow.

I know there are other things we can do, but without a doubt, prayer is something everyone can do, and should.

No, this is not cheesy, it is biblical.

If you are really serious about this, you could also fast for the people and nation of Egypt.

Prayer and fasting work people – If God is putting it upon you to do such, do it without hesitation and with all abandon.


A New Kind of Graded Reader

some might be interested in seeing James Tauber’s talk at the 2010 Bible Tech Conference on his ideas about improving language learning acquisition and the New Testament Greek. It’s an hour long.

A New Kind of Graded Reader from James Tauber on Vimeo.

Seems to me like this could be good approach – making it text based and gradually bringing people into reading the text in the original.  Being able to read the text in context always helps in comprehension and language acquisition.  Isn’t it how we do it in English with our kids?  We don’t give them a bunch of vocab cards and make them learn a bunch of words and verb paradigms before they can read do we?  No, we just read to them and they begin to pick it up, one word or phrase at a time – so why do we do this with foreign language learning?! 🙂

I could totally be in support of a graded reader that lets people learn language the natural way and not completely by rote memorization.

What say you?

HT: Michael Palmer, via Jeff.

New Book USPS edition

Thanks to Steve Runge for his generosity in allowing me a review copy of his new book Discourse Grammar of the Greek New Testament: A Practical Introduction for Teaching and Exegesis (Peabody: Hendrickson, 2010)!  He also wrote a kind note on the inside.  🙂

I took a number of Greek and Hebrew exegesis courses in Seminary (as if that makes me an expert…) so – to be honest – I dig this kind of stuff!  I am looking forward to reading through it and learning more of this important approach to learning and studying NT Greek beyond the introductory or even intermediate level.  Thanks Steve!

Here is more info (cut and pasted from Amazon since I just got it yesterday and haven’t had time to really look it over) (additionally Steve has graciously allowed folks to see a 60 page sample of his fine work):

In Discourse Grammar of the Greek New Testament, Steve Runge introduces a function-based approach to language, exploring New Testament Greek grammatical conventions based upon the discourse functions they accomplish. Runge’s approach has less to do with the specifics of language and more to do with how humans are wired to process it.The approach is cross-linguistic. Runge looks at how all languages operate before he focuses on Greek. He examines linguistics in general to simplify the analytical process and explain how and why we communicate as we do, leading to a more accurate description of the Greek text. The approach is also function-based–meaning that Runge gives primary attention to describing the tasks accomplished by each discourse feature. 

This volume does not reinvent previous grammars or supplant previous work on the New Testament. Instead, Runge reviews, clarifies, and provides a unified description of each of the discourse features. That makes it useful for beginning Greek students, pastors, and teachers, as well as for advanced New Testament scholars looking for a volume which synthesizes the varied sub-disciplines of New Testament discourse analysis.

With examples taken straight from the Lexham Discourse Greek New Testament, this volume helps readers discover a great deal about what the text of the New Testament communicates, filling a large gap in New Testament scholarship.

Each of the 18 chapters contains:

* An introduction and overview for each discourse function
* A conventional explanation of that function in easy-to-understand language
* A complete discourse explanation
* Numerous examples of how that particular discourse function is used in the Greek New Testament
* A section of application
* Dozens of examples, taken straight from the Lexham Discourse Greek New Testament
* Careful research, with citation to both Greek grammars and linguistic literature
* Suggested reading list for continued learning and additional research

About the Author:

Steven E. Runge is the General Editor of the Lexham Discourse Greek New Testament. He has a Master of Theological Studies degree in Biblical Languages from Trinity Western Seminary in Langley, B.C., Canada; a BA in Speech Communication from Western Washington University; and a Doctor of Literature degree in Biblical Languages from the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa. He has served as an adjunct faculty member at Northwest Baptist Theological College, Trinity Western University, and Associated Canadian Theological Schools (ACTS) while completing his education.

Review forthcoming!  (You can see Este singing Dr. Runge’s song here).

thought for the day on Matthew’s Gospel

The formation of Matthew’s Gospel probably took place in the first decade of the church’s life, that is, before 44, and this not only before 1-2 Thessalonians and Galatians but probably before Paul’s second visit to Jerusalem “after fourteen years” (Gal, 2:1; cf. Acts 11:27-30; 12:25).

Dave Black’s Why Four Gospels? The Historical Origins of the Gospels (Energion, 2010), 53.

Well now, seems to me like this might seem like a highly contentious claim among some circles.  Perhaps not contentious but bold and assertive.  Makes me wonder hos he feels about Strobel’s Case for Christ book – given that he argues most of Paul’s letters come before the Gospels and that, in fact, the provide an element of historical reliability for the gospels.

I’m all messed up now!  Thanks!  lol!

Suffering and the Christian life

In present day USAmerican (and especially Charismatic) Evangelical Christianity – suffering can often seem like a four letter word – those who suffer in life are often seen as either just not together with it or perhaps victims of their own selves or even victims of faulty ideas or theology.   Even so, for many who suffer, they wonder, why?  What have I done to get into this difficult place  Why must we suffer?  I thought it was God’s intention to bless us and to have us walk in his blessings – so we wonder, what place as suffering in the Christian life?

But, the simple reality is, suffering is central to life of the Christian.  Only through suffering can we really come to know God; to know Christ.  The Apostle Paul says this pretty plainly in his Letter to the Philippians:

1:29 For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him… (NIV).

He also talks about it later in chapter 3 where he shares his desire to know Christ:

3:7 But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in[a] Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. 10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. (NIV)

According to Gordon Fee, this is quintessential Paul through and through – if we want to know the heart of the Apostle Paul – this is the essential passage to read.  Here we see his desire to know Christ above all else such that nothing else matters to him, not his past accomplishments, not his present sufferings, not anything really – nothing stands between Paul and his passion for Christ and the gospel.   Again he says,

10 I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. (NIV)

Here we see what it is to truly know Christ – to know the power of his resurrection and to participate in his sufferings – becoming like him….  To know Christ we must grasp the power and reality of his resurrection from the dead  and we must learn to embrace suffering, which in so doing, we become like Christ.

The key to embracing and participating in the suffering of Christ is to have a proper understanding of his resurrection life.  It is to have the right perspective – an eschatological perspective on the past, the present, and the future.

It’s a matter of perspective; an eschatological perspective.

An eschatological perspective on the past is to realize it lies behind us and really has no power over us.  Because of the cross and resurrection what lies behind really is of no serious effect.  If we hold onto the past, our advantages become our disadvantages.  in the context of the letter, reliance on Torah observance for right standing with God is unreliable at best. Instead, because of Christ, righteousness is now in the basis of faith, not works or our own efforts.  This is not to downplay Torah observance so much as it is to say it’s never saved anyone or made them right with God.

Now comes the question of suffering and its role in the Christian life – what is it? An eschatological view of the present realizes that the ultimate goal of the Christian life is not avoidance of the fires of hell, or guaranteed entrance into heaven and eternal life and such.  The ultimate goal of the Christian life is Christ and knowing him.  That the resurrection life of Jesus guarantees our own resurrection life in him gives us the power or enablement to endure suffering – even participation in the sufferings of Christ.  What kind of suffering is being talked about?

I think the suffering Paul is talking about is that suffering which is part of the process of becoming like Christ and any suffering that is brought about as a result of our living for the sake of Christ and the gospel.  Why is becoming like Christ, being found in him, a kind participating in his suffering?

Because of our first ancestors, Adam and Eve, we have a disease called “Adam-itis.”  We have a sinful nature and we have the flesh that continually lives in opposition to the ways of the Lord (cf. Gal 5) – so in seeking to be like Christ (and especially in this letter to the Philippians with the Christ Hymn being the ultimate model – learning to be like him, the humble obedient, servant, can be cause for some degree of suffering.  We may say we love Christ and desire to know him – but that can often be a painful thing in the process.  Suffering in the Christian life then, is the process of our being transformed by the renewing of our minds and actions and attitudes into the mind, actions, and attitude of Jesus Christ.

Part of the suffering is learning to be like Jesus in his actions and attitudes, but it is also in learning to live a life fully devoted to him; fully consecrated to him – it is learning to say “no” to the things, and practices, and attitudes of the world, and “yes” to the way of the Lord.  Saying yes to the Lord can be costly – it can cost friendships, relationships, livelihood, and even life itself.  There is a high cost to following Jesus but the return is knowing him and some how attaining to the resurrection from the dead.

The eschatological perspective on suffering then lies not in the past, not in the present, but in the future – for in the future lies the resurrection and the life – Christ himself – we may know and experience him in the present but in the sense of “the already but not yet,” – we have yet to fully know him.  Paul makes this affirmation in 1 Corinthians 13 when he says that when we see him, we shall be like him, for then we will know even as we are fully known.

So, suffering in the Christian life is the necessary ingredient in our “likeness training” (via Dave Black) in our knowledge of Christ.


Quote of the Day on Persecution

Dave Black just linked (on his blog) to an article he wrote and put up on his website – then followed it up with this comment:

Persecution is ordained by God for those would follow Jesus in obedience. The New Testament consistently describes the benefits that persecution can have in our lives. Persecution tests our faith. Through it we grow stronger. Our duty is to seek His will, not to ask for relief from persecution.

So the question is do we embrace the persecution that comes as we live obedient lives in discipleship to Jesus or do we try to stay under the radar?

My guess: most of us don’t even know what this means.  Few of us have ever really been through the fires of persecution.

Alan Hirsch on being a missionary incarnational church

Check out this amazing video with Alan Hirsch on the missional and incarnational DNA of the church! He says a lot in this video and its like every statement was a loaded one that needs unpacking – this is the kind of stuff that gets me fired up! lol!

Here’s Alan Hirsch explaining why he thinks that the church has to be both missional and incarnational. .! … Read More

via scientia et sapientia

this is why I have a goal to do a ThM in Bible (to get as much Bible as I can) and then do a PhD in Intercultural Studies. All in good time I suppose. All in good time. 🙂

Billy Graham Quote of the Day

This is a great quote and one I think many of us can relate to… it’s a good one to print out and file away somewhere or to put up on your office wall to remind you of what the important issues really are – God, family, life. See Brian’s blog for the link to the CT article this quote came from. Blessings.

Billy Graham's Regrets Christianity Today posted an interview with Billy Graham on their website today (see here). Since Graham’s health is a concern it was conducted via email and it is brief. One of the questions asked of Graham was “If you could, would you go back and do anything differently?” This was his response: Yes, of course. I’d spend more time at home with my famil … Read More

Here is the specific quote:

One of the questions asked of Graham was “If you could, would you go back and do anything differently?” This was his response:

Yes, of course. I’d spend more time at home with my family, and I’d study more and preach less. I wouldn’t have taken so many speaking engagements, including some of the things I did over the years that I probably didn’t really need to do—weddings and funerals and building dedications, things like that. Whenever I counsel someone who feels called to be an evangelist, I always urge them to guard their time and not feel like they have to do everything.

I also would have steered clear of politics. I’m grateful for the opportunities God gave me to minister to people in high places; people in power have spiritual and personal needs like everyone else, and often they have no one to talk to. But looking back I know I sometimes crossed the line, and I wouldn’t do that now.

via Near Emmaus