Radical Decision: Two Weeks In

Just a quick update. Today is Day 15 of my Juice Fast. I made it through my weekend seminar with no problems resisting the sweets. It was really pretty easy. I surprised even myself. If you were praying for me to be strong, thanks!

I started juicing on July 1, but I started recording weight and eating very sensibly on June 24. Since June 24 (my all-time high weight), I have lost 25.6 pounds. Soli Deo Gloria!

Radical Decision (Day 10)

I thought it might be appropriate to write up a short report about my experience. I radically altered my dietary intake beginning on June 24 (mainly fruits & vegetables, drinking water–it almost sounds like Daniel 1:12). On July 1, I began a juice fast, making my own juices from raw produce, both fruit and vegetables, and drinking water somewhat massively (easily over 100 ounces a day), with an occasional herbal tea.

Since June 24, I have lost about 22 pounds, but still have a bunch to go. This is Day 10 of the juice fast, inspired by Joe Cross’s documentary (2011), Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead. I have not been hungry. I don’t think I have been overly irritable. I came down with one of those evil summer colds after I started, so I have been dealing with that. We spent the first six days of my juice fast in a condo at Table Rock Lake in Branson. Since coming home, rather than preparing juice in the mornings, I have found it more agreeable to prepare juice in the evenings, for consumption the next day. It has not been too bad. Every morning (since we arrived back home), I have been walking on the treadmill. I can see that I am getting stronger.

Here are a few of my juice creations:



We got back from Branson on Saturday afternoon. On Sunday, I sold a Chinese motor scooter that I had ridden for seven years. I think I sold it at top dollar. On Monday, I bought a 1981 Honda CM400E (sight unseen) on eBay, located 83 miles away. It only cost my $216 dollars more than I received for the motor scooter, but I am certain that it will last A LOT LONGER! Insurance is just about the same as what I was paying, and it cost me all of $35 to apply for the new title and pay sales tax. I ordered a trunk for it, as that was my modus operandi with the scooter, as far as carrying laptop, books, etc. That should probably arrive next week. Here is a photo of it in my favorite parking spot at work:



Some of the other bikers who work at OCC tell me that they think I got an excellent purchase. It was titled in the name of a husband and wife. She has taught at a Christian school in Chanute, KS, and both taught and knows very well some of my former students.

There IS concern that I have about the juice fast. On Friday afternoon, I will start what is called Weekend Intervention Program, part of SATOP (Missouri’s education/rehabilitation of people who drive motor vehicles under the influence of alcohol). I will spend 22 face-to-face hours with a Spanish-speaking “client,” functioning as his interpreter. My concern is this. The group takes a break every hour or hour and a half, and there is ALWAYS a table with snacks (cookies, candy, chips, nuts), free for the taking. Since I made this radical decision, I have been very strong and committed to this plan. I took Rose out to eat on July 4, and she consumed at the restaurant, and I had a Sonic cup with my own juice. Sunday evening we had long-time friends over for Chilean food. They partook of stuff that I really like, but I sat at the table, and drank my juice.

But, . . . at times past, when I was trying to eat sensibly, this program has been a challenge to me. The program is held at the local Holiday Inn. The group takes meals together, served by Holiday Inn staff. During meals this weekend, I will not go to the dining area. I will probably take a cooler with my juice, so during their meal times, I can drink my nourishment. I plan on resisting the temptation during break times. Writing my intention here will help me to get through this challenge.

Just wanted to let those who are interested how things are going.

Blessings to all!

Radical Decision Update (7 days in)

I’m writing this post as an update to my juice fast. If you missed the last post, I had my last soda pop on Monday, June 24 (as well as my last meat), as I was preparing for a juice fast (a la Fat, Sick, and Nearly DeadIf you haven’t seen the documentary, I recommend it.

On June 24, I weighed in at an all-time-high (for me) weight. In fact, that number shocked  me. I was already planning to do something radical, so that day I decided to spend the rest of that week following a fruit and vegetable diet (a la Fat Smash Diet), in preparation for a juice fast. We left home for vacation in Branson on Saturday, June 29. I had purchased my juicer, but hadn’t opened the box. I planned to start the juice fast on July 1.

I am writing this particular line on Saturday night, July 6, but won’t post this until tomorrow morning, after I weigh in. I won’t report the actual weight (I have that recorded in a spreadsheet), so if you want to let your imagination run wild, you can guess that I was up to 435 pounds (you would be wrong). I will report the total weight loss since Monday morning, June 24. I lost 7 pounds during my prep week.

What I do want to do right now is to let you know that I have not been hungry at all. I’ve consumed LOTS of micronutrients from the following fruits and vegetables:

  • kale
  • spinach
  • celery
  • carrots
  • cucumbers
  • ginger root
  • apples (both green and red)
  • oranges
  • lemon
  • strawberry
  • kiwi

I’ve got some other ingredients to try soon, including summer squash.

I don’t know for sure if my energy level has increased, but it has NOT decreased.

On the 4th of July, Rose and I went to the White River Fish House, a restaurant built out over Lake Taneycomo at the Branson Landing shopping center. We had eaten there before, and had a wonderful outside table over the water. Rose ordered one of her favorite dishes, and I sat there patiently with my own juice in a Sonic cup. They brought steaming hot cornbread before the meal. I know that it was very tasty, but I just watched Rose enjoy it, and drank water and my juice. ¡Cero problema! (No problem!)

This is not something everybody needs to do, but I certainly believe that need to do this.

I’ll save this draft now, and report my total weight loss in the morning.

Sunday morning at 8:10 AM report:

  • Walked 1.48 miles on treadmill
  • Showered
  • Weighed in . . . 18.6 pounds down from June 24 weight.

Thank you, Lord!

Radical Decision

Reboot Summer 2013

Over the last several years, I have had an up-and-down experience with my weight. I would gain weight, then lose it. I’ve often joked (somewhat morbidly), that I have lost over 500 pounds. I was aware that I really needed to do something. Rose has been doing Nutrisystem since March (thanks too help from our daughter, Charissa), and has lost A LOT(!!) of weight, but I, sadly, just kept on eating, and was getting fatter and fatter. Even tying my shoes got to be laborious. I don’t remember ever having difficulty getting out of a chair, but was embarrassed last week, when I had difficulty getting out of a chair at my Mom’s place.

Rose has been after me to do something. Usually, when I put my mind to it, I do very well. I had watched some of Joe Cross’ 2010 documentary, Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead but I wanted Rose to watch it with me, so I got it from the Joplin Public Library (thanks, Jacque), and we watched it. It made sense to me. I was not as heavy as Joe Cross was in the film, nor do I have the ailments that he had, but I was inspired. I was also inspired (even more so) by Phil Staples’ story.

I started thinking about doing a juice fast, like in the documentary. Rose had done Nutrisystem, while I did other things, so I figured I could do my own thing, while she continues to eat sensibly. Still, I was kind of scared of the whole veggie juice thing. I called Suzanne’s Health Food about trying a yuckie vegetable juice, and even went there to get one. They actually closed a few minutes ahead of the time they told me they would close. When I saw on their board that their yuckie juices cost $7.50, I was kind of glad that they were closed.

As I was contemplating this, I visited the whole food health store, recently opened by the parents of a former student of mine, Get Real Whole Food, in Webb City. When I walked in the store, there was my former student. I asked her about the juicing thing, and she said that her mother had tried it. She called her mother out, and I talked to her about it. She said that it was a good detox, but was “a bit intense,” and she didn’t recommend it unless one had been eating sensibly before starting it. I told her that I had been on the “See Food Diet” (you know, whatever food I saw, I would eat). She said that before trying the juice fast, it would be better to start eating more sensibly.

I decided that I wanted to try it, but was kind of scared. On Monday, June 24, I stepped on the scale. I encountered the highest number I had ever seen on my scale. That motivated me to want to change something. I decided to go on a modification of the Fat Smash Dietwhich we had used in the past, at least in their first phase, of detox. I had a Diet Dr. Pepper in my refrigerator at work, which I drank (on Monday, June 24), but other than that, I eliminated caffeine from my diet (had headaches the first couple days), and ate only fruits, vegetables, and nuts. My plan was to start on a juice fast after one week of eating like that. From June 24 until June 29, I lost 7 pounds.

Still, I put off buying the juicer. I knew that I could order a juicer with Amazon Prime and get it in 1-2 days. The prices were right. I considered the cheaper Breville model, but read some negative reviews, which really made me inclined to get the more expensive one. I had a 20% off code Bed, Bath & Beyond had sent to my phone, but before I took the plunge, I bought some of the Naked Juice Green Machineof which the marketers say, “Looks weird; tastes amazing!” I bought a bottle. I didn’t think it looked weird; I thought it looked disgusting! But it did taste good. So, on Thursday, I used my 20% coupon and bought the Breville Juice Fountain PlusI took it home, and kept it in the box.

I’m writing this post on July 1, from our vacation spot in Branson, Missouri. I actually started my juice fast today. It hasn’t gone that badly. I got some recipes from others who had been inspired by Joe Cross’s video, so I would have an idea of what I was doing. Today, as far as nutritional intake, I had about a liter of juice that I made from carrots, cucumbers, and apples. I don’t feel hungry. The juice wasn’t that bad. I have had about 85 ounces of water, and several cups of Celestial Seasonings Lemon Zinger Herbal Tea

Tomorrow I’ll try a fruitier variety, made from strawberries, kiwi, orange, and apple. Day after tomorrow, I’ll try Joe’s Mean Green Juicehaving my first try of kale.

I’m not sure how long I’ll do this, but I intend to do it for more than 10 or 15 days. We’ll see how well it goes. I won’t be able to weigh myself until Saturday (I usually like to weigh myself in the morning right after a workout and a shower), so that might make my first official weigh-in on Sunday, July 7. If that number encourages me, it will help me to keep going.

In Joe’s documentary (you can watch it for free on Hulu, online), he encountered lots of people who admitted that they needed to make a radical decision, but who said they lacked the willpower, saying things like “I could never do that.” Joe was seemingly distraught by people who wouldn’t even try it. He said something like (in good Aussie), “If you try it and only get through 5 or 6 days, ‘Good on you!'”

foodpyramid-large_6cc3b10b60ed2ac4ae1c00df27bdd8baLast week I also watched the film Forks over Knives (thanks again, Jacque). I understand that God allows the consumption of meat from the days of Noah (Genesis 9:2-4), but a diet mainly of fruits, vegetables and nuts seems healthier to me than the diet that I have followed for most of my life. We’ll see what happens with this summer’s radical decision.

I have been on cholesterol medication for the past 8-9 months, even though I knew that my cholesterol was high (for literally years I have had too much of the bad cholesterol and too little of the good kind). I think I should find a substantial change in my cholesterol after following this diet for a while.

Dr. Joel Fuhrman, M.D., is featured in Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead. He has an alternative food pyramid to that which is commonly used in the United States. The basis of his pyramid is plant-based foods. Should this radical decision work well for me, my plan would be to adapt my eating habits along those lines.

Tecnología y la Biblia

Mi hijo, Gregory, inspiró esta reflexión. Una de las cosas que él hace tiene que ver con Christian Media Magazine, donde ejerce como editor. No es una revista, propiamente tal, sino que se ha morfado (¿acabo de regresar a mi antigua costumbre de inventar palabras en español?) a una compilación de artículos que se publican cada semana en su sitio web.

El artículo que inspiró esta reflexión tiene que ver con la muy conocida (en USA, por los menos) You Version, y específicamente, un servicio que ofrecen que se llama You Version Live. El artículo se llama You Version Live–A Discussion about Phones in Church.

Si voy a predicar a una iglesia, llevo una Biblia impresa (más por las apariencias). Pero si no estoy delante, predicando, lo más probable que la única Biblia que tenga está en mi teléfono.inteligente, donde tengo múltiples versiones de la Biblia en múltiples idiomas, incluyendo y NT en griego y el AT en hebreo. Desde noviembre el año pasado, tengo una tableta iPad 2. La tableta tiene los mismos libros que el teléfono, además la pantalla más fácil de leer. Hay momentos en que no ando con mi iPad, pero casi siempre ando con mi teléfono.

A algunas personas de mi edad no les gusta. Pero la adaptación de nuevas tecnologías siempre ha causado un problema para los que estaban acostumbrados a como “lo hemos hecho siempre.”

Hay hermanos que están muy en contra del uso de tecnología. Por eso mismo, Gregory incluyó un video YouTube genial, mostrando la dificultad en el uso de la nueva tecnología del libro (en vez del bien conocido rollo). El video, en un idioma europeo, lleva subtítulos en inglés. Lo busqué con subtítulos en español, para incluir aquí. Espero que lo disfruten.

PD–Hace dos años, un amigo fue a predicar a la iglesia en que me crié (una iglesia muy tradicionalista). Le advertí que más valía que se pusiera corbata. De vuelta, me agradeció por haberle advertido que usara corbata, pero agregó, “Creo que les incomodé un poco cuando saqué mi teléfono para leerles la Escritura.”

Rules vs Relationships

I’m kind of a private person, introverted to the point that being alone does not freak me out, but sociable enough to enjoy interactions. I’ve also lived a good number of years outside of the United States, speak a second language rather fluently (thinking and even dreaming in that language).

I like to play my cards rather close to my vest, and in conversation, use language to my advantage. I like puns (particularly in my second language: an example, when referring to my daughter-in-law, I might make the pun from the word nuera and the phrase sí era).

I just finished reading a rather outstanding book. I saw it a couple months ago on the New Books display in our library. I checked it out, read a bit overnight, returned the book, and bought my Kindle copy of the book the very next day. I knew after reading just a few pages that I wanted to keep it for myself, mark it up, highlight it (things that one should not do with a library copy of a book).

The book is Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes: Removing Cultural Blinders to Better Understand the Bible, by E. Randolph Richards and Brandon J. O’Brien, InterVarsity Press, 2012. The book is divided into three parts, borrowing the analogy of an iceberg, that much of the cultural differences that cause us problems are hidden below the surface: Part One–Above the Surface; Part Two–Just Below the Surface; and Part Three–Deep Below the Surface.

The book covers some recent hermeneutical emphases, such as honor/shame, patron/client, and the ever present individualist/collectivist divides. One chapter that I particularly enjoyed was in the Deep Below the Surface section of the book, and dealt with Rules vs Relationships.

2 Movies in 2 Days

2 First Run Movies in 2 Days

We like to go to movies, but the last two days have been out of the ordinary for us. You see, normally I purchase SuperSavers, coupons to get into the movies at discounted prices, but we have to wait until the movies have been out for about a week and a half before the SuperSavers can be used.

This weekend, we will have gone to 2 movies that opened this weekend. Now before you jump to the wrong conclusion that I am spending big bucks, I happened to buy some coupons (at the price of the SuperSavers) that allow me to go to first-run movies at that discounted price.

October Baby
At any rate, last night we went to see October Baby. I had seen the trailer, and had read some about the movie a few months ago. It is released by a consortium of American Family Studios, Samuel Goldwyn Films, and Provident Films. Most would probably call this a Christian movie, though it is not all that preachy. It certainly tells a pro-life story, but one in which there is forgiveness and redemption for 1) a former abortion clinic nurse, and 2) a woman who aborted her child.

The synopsis of the film goes like this:

“You saw me before I was born.” Psalm 139:16 (NLT)
As the curtain rises, Hannah hesitantly steps onto the stage for her theatrical debut in college. Yet before she can utter her first lines, Hannah—unscripted—collapses in front of the stunned audience.
After countless medical tests, all signs point to one underlying factor: Hannah’s difficult birth. This revelation is nothing compared to what she then learns from her parents: she was actually adopted … after a failed abortion attempt.
Bewildered, angered, and confused, Hannah turns for support to Jason, her oldest friend. Encouraged by his adventurous spirit, Hannah joins his group of friends on a Spring Break road trip, embarking on a journey to discover her hidden past … and find hope for her unknown future.
In the midst of her incredible journey, Hannah finds that life can be so much more than what you have planned.

If you happen to frequent movie review sites like Rotten Tomatoes, you would find that October Baby may have hit some nerves. Obviously, the experts rate the movie much worse than the viewers.

Click on the image above, to make it larger. As as 4:50 PM on March 24, 2012 (the day after its limited nationwide release), there were 28 reviews of experts, giving the film a rating of 21% on the Tomatometer (an average rating of 4.4/10). On the other side, however, there were 1,560 user ratings (an average rating of 4.5/5), with 94% liking the film. Now, obviously, we’re not comparing tomatoes to tomatoes. There is a different rating scale. The “Approved Tomatometer Critics” have a scale of 1 to 10, whereas the Audience’s rating scale is from 1 to 5 stars, with 94% of the audience rating the film at 3.5 stars or higher. One mainstream reviewer, Gary Goldstein of the Los Angeles Times, gave October Baby a pretty good review.

I am not a film critic. In reality, I watch films, and pretty much forget much of what I have seen. With the desire of giving full disclosure, I have been committed to a pro-life stance since I began to see the horrors of the abortion industry. I was a college student in 1973, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Roe vs. Wade, and sadly, I did not realize the implications of that decision until a number of years later. I am not objective on this matter. I believe that an unborn baby is much more than non-viable tissue, and must be given a chance to live.

The story of October Baby was told with grace, with some moments of comic relief. John Schneider, from the Dukes of Hazzard television show (1979-1985) plays the adoptive father. The role of Hannah is played well by Rachel Hendrix, in a convincing manner. The role of Nurse Mary was portrayed convincingly by Jasmine Guy, with a story line that concurs with public testimony of other former nurses at abortion clinics, like Jill Stanek

The actress who played the part of the birth mother, Shari Rigby, has an interesting back story. In real life, she had had an abortion some 20 years ago. When she was asked to read the script for the part, she asked October Baby producers, Andrew and Jon Erwin, how they knew. The Erwin brothers responded, “What are you talking about?” Rigby was able to play the part with such pathos, that when she receives a note from Hannah that says, “I forgive you!”, she slides down to the floor in tears, a true encounter with God:

I was deeply moved by October Baby. The community of faith supported it, as it netted nearly $605,000 on the first night of screening (Source: EW.com). It is worth seeing.

The Hunger Games

Tonight we went to see The Hunger Games. In our 14-screen movie theater, it was playing on at least 6 screens, with showings that started every 15 minutes. The theater was jam packed on Friday night. According the Entertainment Weekly, The Hunger Games had box office receipts of $68.3 million on its first full day (including the Friday morning screenings at 12:01 AM), making it the best ever opening day for a non-sequel movie.

The theater tonight was about half full. Maybe our small city is reaching its saturation point. The movie is 2 hours 22 minutes long. It was riveting, in that it did not seem that long.

I got Rose a Kindle Touch at Christmas. As an Amazon Prime member, about two months ago I found out that I could borrow the book, The Hunger Games, instead of buying it. They touted it as “I’m sure you want to read the book before you see the movie.” I borrowed it, put it on Rose’s Kindle, but didn’t say anything about it. I was disappointed to find out that I could not put it on the Kindle app of my non-Kindle device. Borrowed-from-Amazon books can only be installed on Kindle devices. She found it, and started reading it. I was hoping to read it perhaps some night, if she went to bed earlier than I. I never got around to it. Once, when I thought I might try, I found out that she had left the Kindle device in her office. 

About 10 days ago, when she finished it, she said, “You’re going to get me the 2nd book, aren’t you?” I checked the price, and the Kindle price for the 2nd book was just under $8. I thought, “if I buy that, then she’ll want me to buy the 3rd one later.” So, I bought the entire trilogy for $18.99. Since I bought the book, I could install it on Kindle apps (my computer, my Android tablet, my phone, etc.) So, about 10 days ago, I started reading The Hunger Games.

On March 18, I sent Kim a text message:

She posted the above photo on Facebook with the status: “Coolest text from my Dad!! #ilovehungergames #teampeeta.”

She knew we were going to the movie tonight. About 20 minutes after we got out, she texted me to ask me how we liked the movie. I responded, “the book is much better, but it was not boring.”

The book is much better, and offers so many talking points about the intersection of a life of faith and real life issues. It is so much more than a story about kids killing kids. David Bruce, of Hollywood Jesus lists seven major current issues:
  • Severe poverty
  • Starvation
  • Oppression
  • The effects of war
  • Moral complexity
  • Government control
  • Personal Independence

I have now finished the 2nd book of the trilogy, and am about half way through the 3rd book. There are more issues that arise in books 2 and 3, including what happens when a revolution occurs, and the ones who rise to power via revolution (or coup d’état) end up being just as repressive as the former government (thoughts of my Chilean pilgrimage come to mind).

At any rate, I enjoyed the movie The Hunger Games. It certainly sets itself up for 2 sequels. The books are better, however. The violence gives a springboard for thoughtful reflection about real life issues, and how faithful Christ-followers can use either the book or the movie as a starting point to engage our current culture.

One of my colleagues, Doug Welch, who has read the book, but has not seen the movie, posted a link to a review on EW.com, by Darren Franich, titled “What the movie missed about the book.” I concur with Franich. The book is much better than the movie.

Dave Black on "13 Things your Greek Professor Won’t Tell You"

I saw this first on the B-Greek reading list. It comes originally from what a B-Greeker called Dave Black’s Non-Blog. Dave Black does not use blogging software, so there is no way to get permanently to this particular post. His general site is here, but this link will just get you to whatever happens to be at the top of his site.

Here is what Black wrote:

The latest issue of The Reader’s Digest has an interesting article entitled “13 Things Used Car Salesmen Won’t Tell You.” Here are “13 Things Your Greek Teachers Won’t Tell You”:

1. Greek is not the only tool you need to interpret your New Testament. In fact, it’s only one component in a panoply of a myriad of tools. Get Greek, but don’t stop there. (You’ll need, for example, a Hebrew New Testament as well.)

2. Greek is not the Open Sesame of biblical interpretation. All it does is limit your options. It tells you what’s possible, then the context and other factors kick in to disambiguate the text.

3. Greek is not superior to other languages in the world. Don’t believe it when you are told that Greek is more logical than, say, Hebrew. Not true.

4. Greek had to be the language in which God inscripturated New Testament truth because of its complicated syntax. Truth be told, there’s only one reason why the New Testament was written in Greek and not in another language (say, Latin), and that is a man named Alexander the Great, whose vision was to conquer the inhabited world and then unite it through a process known as Hellenization. To a large degree he succeeded, and therefore the use of Greek as the common lingua franca throughout the Mediterranean world in the first century AD should come as no surprise to us today. I emphasize this point only because there are some today who would seek to resurrect the notion of “Holy Ghost” Greek. Their view is, in my view, a demonstrable cul-de-sac.

5. Greek words do not have one meaning. Yet how many times do we hear in a sermon, “The word in the Greek means…”? Most Greek words are polysemous, that is, they have many possible meanings, only one of which is its semantic contribution to any passage in which it occurs. (In case you were wondering: Reading all of the meanings of a Greek word into any particular passage in which it occurs is called “illegitimate totality transfer” by linguists.)

6. Greek is not difficult to learn. I’ll say it again: Greek is not difficult to learn. I like to tell my students, “Greek is an easy language; it’s us Greek teachers who get in the way.” The point is that anyone can learn Greek, even a poorly-educated surfer from Hawaii. If I can master Greek, anyone can!

7. Greek can be acquired through any number of means, including most beginning textbooks. Yes, I prefer to use my own Learn to Read New Testament Greek in my classes, but mine is not the only good textbook out there. When I was in California I taught in an institution that required all of its Greek teachers to use the same textbook for beginning Greek. I adamantly opposed that policy. I feel very strongly that teachers should have the right to use whichever textbook they prefer. Thankfully, the year I left California to move to North Carolina that policy was reversed, and now teachers can select their own beginning grammars. (By the way, the textbook that had been required was mine!)

8. Greek students think they can get away with falling behind in their studies. Folks, you can’t. I tell my students that it’s almost impossible to catch up if you get behind even one chapter in our textbook. Language study requires discipline and time management skills perhaps more than any other course of study in school.

9. Greek is fun! At least when it’s taught in a fun way.

10. Greek is good for more than word studies. In fact, in the past few years I’ve embarked on a crusade to get my students to move away from word-bound exegesis. When I was in seminary I was taught little more than how to do word studies from the Greek. Hence, I thought I had “used Greek in ministry” if I had consulted my Wuest, Robertson, Kittle, Brown, Vincent, or Vines. Since then I’ve discovered that lexical analysis is the handmaiden and not the queen of New Testament exegesis. Greek enables us to see how a text is structured, how it includes rhetorical devices, how syntactical constructions are often hermeneutical keys, etc.

11. Greek can cause you to lose your faith. It happened to one famous New Testament professor in the US when he discovered that there were textual variants in his Greek New Testament, and it can happen to you. When the text of Scripture becomes nothing more than “another analyzable datum of linguistic interpretation” then it loses its power as the Word of God. That’s why I’m so excited about my Greek students at the seminary, most of whom are eager to place their considerable learning at the feet of Jesus in humble service to His upside-down kingdom.

12. Greek can be learned in an informal setting. The truth is that you do not need to take a formal class in this subject or in any subject for that matter. I know gobs of homeschoolers who are using my grammar in self-study, many of whom are also using myGreek DVDs in the process. If anyone wants to join the club, let me know and I will send you, gratis, a pronunciation CD and a handout called “Additional Exercises.”

13. Greek is not Greek. In other words, Modern Greek and Koine Greek are two quite different languages. So don’t expect to be able to order a burrito in Athens just because you’ve had me for first year Greek. On the other hand, once you have mastered Koine Greek it is fairly easy to work backwards (and learn Classical Greek) and forwards (and learn Modern Greek).

Okay, I’m done. And yes, I’m exaggerating. Many Greek teachers do in fact tell their students these things. May their tribe increase!

Now who wants to tackle “13 Things Your Hebrew Teachers Won’t Tell You”?

Between Two Worlds

Every fall I teach Anthropology, primarily from a position of Cultural Anthropology, designed to help Bible college students interact more positively with people from other cultures. Having lived overseas for nearly two decades, I have a pretty good idea of what makes up Latin American culture.

My kids were all born in South America. Until 1994, when our family moved back to the U.S., the U.S. was their parents’ homeland, and was a place that they just visited every three or four years. They are adults now, and have reconciled themselves to life in these United States. They are third culture kids, somewhere caught in the middle.

As a teacher of Anthropology, I always have my antennas up for a possible secondary text. I’m using a great one this semester, but that may be the subject of another post. Last week, however, I came across a new book in our library, that told an incredible story of a daughter getting in touch with her father’s homeland. I would recommend it.

Between Two Worlds: My Life and Captivity in Iran, by Roxana Saberi, is an autobiographical account of Ms. Saberi’s experience as a journalist and writer living and working in her father’s homeland, Iran. Ms. Saberi, a journalist, moved to Iran in 2003 to get in touch with her father’s roots, learn Farsi, and work for Western news agencies. The Iranian government under Ahmadinejad stripped Saberi’s press credentials. Since she had fallen in love with the people of Iran, she decided to remain in the country, to interview a broad spectrum of people, to write a book that would be published in the west

The Touch of the Master’s Hand

My heart is heavy this afternoon. We have just lost a colleague due to a moral failure. Our faculty is already minimized, with a dear brother on sabbatical, and a couple on medical leave. Others, already overworked will have to pick up the slack.

In our “in house family meeting” our president told a story which I will reproduce here, that highlights God’s knack for taking a bad situation, and transforming it. The story is kind of like the well known poem by Myra Brooks Welch, “The Touch of the Master’s Hand.” I will link to the poem, but will not cite it.

This story was knew to me. I used Google to trace the story. It has been published in a number of different places. I’m not sure where our president, Matt Proctor, found it. Most recently, it was published in a book by Lenya Heitzig and Penny Rose titled Live Deeply: A Study in the Parables (David C. Cook, 2009). I’ll quote from that book (pp. 136-137):

Over a hundred years ago in a Scottish seaside inn, some fishermen were relaxing after a long day at sea. As a serving maid walked past the fishermen’s table with a pot of tea, one of the men made a sweeping gesture to describe the size of the fish he claimed to have caught. His hand hit the teapot, sending it crashing against the whitewashed wall, staining a large area. “That stain will never come out,” the innkeeper said. “The whole wall will have to be repainted.”

“Perhaps no.” All eyes turned to the stranger who had spoken. “What do you mean?” asked the innkeeper. “Let me work with the stain,” said the stranger. “If my work meets your approval, you won’t need to repaint the wall.” So he picked up a box and went to the wall. Opening the box, he withdrew pencils, brushes, and some glass jars of linseed oil and pigment. He began to sketch lines around the stain and fill it in here and there with dabs of color and swashes of shading. Soon a picture began to emerge. The random splashes of tea were transformed into the image of a magnificent stag. The man inscribed his signature on the painting, paid for his meal, and left.

“Do you know who that man was?” the innkeeper said in amazement. “E. H. Landseer!” Indeed, the famous wildlife painter. Sir Edwin Landseer had visited the village.

God sent Jesus to take the stains and disappointments from our lives–not merely to erase them, but to turn them into a thing of beauty. Will we be like the religious leaders and reject Him as the cornerstone of our faith, or will be gladly accept Him as one who can transform our lives into a masterpiece?

For the unknowing, like myself, Sir Edwin H. Landseer was a famous British wildlife artist in the 19th century.

May God turn the ashes from this situation, toward His greater glory.