Saturday, January 28, 2006

Through Two Weeks of Classes

We have been in class now for two weeks, and I have let two weeks go by without adding any random thoughts to this blog. I decided that I would put something down here, so that the two people that occasionally look at this site would know that I am still alive.

Classes that I teach--I like my classes this semester. I have reduced numbers in my classes this semester (that usually happens during the Spring Semester), but the students that I have are doing a great job so far. I'm very pleased with my Greek students. It is a smaller class, which makes it impossible for a student to hide. They better come to class prepared, or they will be exposed. With a larger class, it is possible for a student to make an attempt at being invisible. My Greek students are working hard, and are coming to class prepared each day--a huge improvement over last semester!

Diet and Fitness--I have continued watching my diet and getting more exercise. I go to Nitro Fitness at least three times per week. I was there this morning. The Joplin Nitro Fitness has been open for about 4 weeks. I noticed on the white board that they will put rankings for those who lose the greatest amount of body fat, and gain the greatest amount of muscle mass. I normally might have gone yesterday, but I had some lower back discomfort, so I stayed away from there yesterday. This morning when I woke up, it felt better, so I went ahead and worked out. I have also been playing basketball and racquetball with greater regularity. Last Monday, several of the faculty members played some ball right before lunchtime. We played man-to-man defense, and I ended up guarding (and being guarded) by one of my younger colleagues who is in great shape. I had guarded him once about a year ago, and found at that time that he could pretty easily. He didn't dribble past me once on Monday. I felt like I was just about a half-step quicker, which pleases me. I've been getting beat in racquetball, but hadn't played in several years. I'm getting better, though.

Bible Reading Plans--I have been enjoying my Bible Reading. I am using The One Year Bible published by Tyndale. I do my English Bible reading on my Pocket PC, using the Daily Reader by Laridian, which enables me to do the Tyndale scheduled reading in any Bible translation I have on my system. That allows me to read in the English Standard Version, which I am enjoying a lot. The ESV, published by Crossway books, splits the difference between the very literal New American Standard Bible, and the very readable New International Version. Though as a Greek professor, I don't encourage students to use Interlinear Bibles, Crossway and Logos Bible Software will be releasing a Reverse Interlinear based on the ESV. Crossway's website describes it:

This state-of-the-art reverse interlinear New Testament, created in partnership with Logos Research Systems, breaks with the convention of traditional interlinear texts by keeping the English as the top line entry and placing the Greek text underneath it. This approach allows you to see firsthand the accuracy with which the translators of the English Standard Version of the Bible (ESV) rendered the Greek text.

The ESV is an “essentially literal” translation of the Bible, emphasizing word-for-word accuracy and precision along with literary beauty and readability. The publishers of the ESV have partnered with Logos Research Systems, the premier Bible research software developer, to publish this helpful resource. It will benefit anyone from serious Bible scholars to those who simply desire to study the English text of the New Testament as closely as possible to the original.

Valuable Resources Included

  • Gloss dictionary based on the transliterated inflected Greek
  • Strong’s numbers for effective cross-referencing to other study tools
  • Morphology of each word
  • Transliterations of all Greek words for easy pronunciation
  • Free electronic version of the ESV on CD-ROM
  • Additional ESV text and study tools
Greek Bible Reading--I created two calendars to enable me to read through the entire Greek New Testament during 2006. It has been a joy! I'm a bit disappointed in myself that I had never done it (or even thought about doing it!), but it has been great fun. I decided to begin with the gospel of John and his epistles, then start in with Matthew and read through the rest of the New Testament. My first schedule called for me to read John and 1-2-3 John by February 15. The second plan was to begin with Matthew on February 16, finishing Revelation on December 31. Currently I am way ahead of schedule, having already read the prescribed portion through February 22. I read the Greek New Testament generally in one of two formats:
  1. In my Libronix Bible Software, through which I created the calendar.
  2. On my Pocket PC, equipped with Gramcord Lite.
Each of those options are equipped with an easy way to check a lexicon for the words that I don't recognize right off. In Libronix, I right click on a word I don't recognize, and choose the option "Display information." That is linked to the entry for that word in BAGD. In Gramcord Lite, the lexical gloss is not as sophisticated, but is adequate for rapid reading of the text. I'll include a photo I took from my Pocket PC just this morning:

The photo shows the word σκυθρωποί as occurs in the text of Matthew 6:16. The lower portion of the screen gives the lexical form of the word, parses it (this particular word is very easy to parse--my first semester Greek students could do it easily), and gives a gloss with the English meaning, that comes from Barclay Newman's Concise Greek-English Dictionary of the New Testament.

Another excellent resource that can be used for rapid reading of the Greek New Testament is a text by Zondervan: A Reader's Greek New Testament, that includes a gloss with the meaning of every word that is used 30 times or fewer in the Greek New Testament, enabling the reader to look at the bottom of the page to get the meaning of a word he/she might not recognize right away.

High School Basketball--I went to my first high school basketball game of this season last night. Rose was gone to a retreat. I had wanted a chance to see Kyle Schrage play at least once as a high schooler. Kyle is a 6'8" senior center at Carl Junction High School. I had the privilege of travelling to Thailand last March with Kyle and his parents, Mike and Karolyn Schrage. Mike is with Good News Productions, International. Kyle was born on the mission field in Kenya. When his older sister, Kathryn, was about 14 years old, I coached her at an OCC Basketball camp. Kyle has signed a letter of intent to play college basketball at Missouri Southern State University here in Joplin. He had a good game last night, scoring 20 points while sitting out the entire 4th quarter. He had one dunk that electrified the crowd in the first half. Good game, Kyle!

Perspectives on the World Christian Movement--I am the professor of record for our Perspectives course. That should be great! I've got some housekeeping duties to take care of today. Our next class session will be Monday nights, with Dr. Ron Blue from Dallas Theological Seminary/CAM International.

That's it. I have more random thoughts, but I save them for a later day.

Blessings to you all!


Saturday, January 14, 2006

Weekend Reprieve Before Taking the Plunge

I'm writing these words (the term penning does not work here, since I have no pen in my hands) from the home of David & Jennie Smith in Allen, TX. Jennie is the oldest of my wife's two sisters, and it is a bit scary how much alike the three of them are. Actually, the home in reality belongs to my niece, Michelle, allegedly "won" from her parents in a game of Sorry, information obtained from perusing the subject of my next paragraph (Smith 2005:69). We have spent lots of time with the Smith family over the years, in Indiana, Florida and now in Texas. We'll have today (Saturday, Jan. 14) with them, celebrating the first birthday of Jack Mounger, son of Shannon nee Smith. Shannon graduated from high school in 1993, and then spent a school year in Chile as an exchange student. That coincided with our last year in Chile, during which time we spent lots of time with her, and during which time she acquired (not by playing Sorry, the dubious title of favorite niece.) Methinks that she has lost that title for good, now, but that is also the subject of my next paragraph, which begins now!

David Smith, Jr., formerly known in the family as Little Dave (an oxymoron to the extreme!) is the minister at Southwood Christian Church in Greenville, Texas. I was unaware until yesterday that he is a published author. His book, Life's too Short to be an Underdog, and Other Spiritual Lessons I Learned from my Dog, came out just before Christmas. I did some reading in it, and it is a good read. I recommend it. Especially interesting is chapter 8, written about Ziggy, one of the Smith family dogs. I really can't say that I remember Ziggy, but the story told about Ziggy, in which my oldest child Charissa has the role of an antagonist, has the ring of truth. We will get to see the author later today at his nephew's birthday party. I understand that he admits that some of the stories are embellished for the sake of humor. My wife, Rose also has somewhat of a role of an antagonist, in which the niece formerly known as favorite is alleged to have referred to her as evil, thus losing that claim. Buy the book, read the book, I think you'll like it.

In a couple hours we will visit our friends, Doug and Sharon Marks. They recently moved down to the Dallas area. Doug was my colleague at Ozark over the past 5½ years, and is now Vice President for Academic Affairs at Dallas Christian College. They will return to Joplin in a couple weeks to close on the sale of their home there.

Tomorrow we'll go to church with Dave and Jennie, then head north. We'll be in enrollment all day Monday, then Tuesday morning, at 7:00 AM, it's back to Greek, where I will review what students forgot about Koine Greek over their 4-week hiatus, and begin work on the 2nd Aorist Active/Middle Indicative. Is anybody excited? It won't be until a few days later that they will learn the 1st Aorist tense. Does that seem strange to you? It makes perfect sense to me!

Passing on to other mundane matters, we ate last night at Café de France, and I had a salad with blackened chicken. I am hoping out of fifth place in our 7-member family weight contest, without descending to sixth or seventh place. I will eat rationally today, and plan on drinking lots of water, to flush my system out. Since Sunday morning is our official weigh-in day, we brought our scales to Texas with us. Second mundane matter--Jack Bauer is not dead. I have not watched a television series when broadcast live for years. I have, however, become a viewer of Fox's 24 (having recently watched the series on DVD--it is exciting and somewhat addictive.) Season five begins tomorrow night, with a two-hour start. It will continue on Monday with another two-hours, then I believe resume its normal Monday evening slot. A recent acquisition in our home is a DVR. I won't be able to watch the series live, since most Monday evenings I will be in class, but the DVR is set to record the episodes. I imagine that I will find time to watch them sometime during the week.

The next time I write, I will be back into the full-swing of our Spring Semester. I hope an pray God's best to you.

Until I have more random thoughts,


Reference: Smith, Dave. (2005). Life's Too Short to Be an Underdog . . . and Other Spiritual Life Lessons I Learned from my Dog. Lincoln, NE: iUniverse, Inc.

Friday, January 06, 2006

Ready to Start Again, and Resolutions for the Upcoming Year

Well, I've taken some time off from my blogging. This year we had a four week hiatus between semesters, which I have enjoyed to the max. We have one more week before we start back. This semester, I will be teaching the following courses at OCC:
  • Greek IB
  • Spanish II
  • Old Testament History II
  • Cross-Cultural Mission Trips
  • Perspectives on the World Christian Movement
The last two are non-traditional courses. The Cross-Cultural Mission Trip will actually end during our Week of Evangelism (traditionally called Spring Break in other educational venues). During that week, I will be leading a group of students on a short-term trip to Costa Rica. Early in the semester, the class will meet once per week, doing pre-field orientation and readings on cross-cultural work. After the trip, we will meet briefly for de-briefing, write a report, and have a celebratory event (party).

I will merely be the Professor of Record for the Pespectives course. Perspectives is a course offered nationwide in over 150 locations each year. This is our 3rd year to offer the course in the Spring Semester. I took the course for graduate credit from Trinity International University/Evangelical Divinity School in 2003 (though I had done many of the readings when I was in graduate school the first time in the 1980s). The University of Nebraska accepted that course (3 credits) as a part of my Ph.D program there. For our Perspectives course, we will have guest speakers come in each week, which we will share with our Springfield, MO site. A highlight this semester will be the inclusion of Dr. Ralph Winter as one of the guest lecturers. Dr. Winter is the founder of the U.S. Center for World Mission in Pasadena, California, and a primary author in the course reader. That will be a treat.

So, my three principal course assignments will be, once again, Greek, OT History, and Spanish.

Which brings us to Resolutions. I don't usually like New Year's Resolutions, but this year, I made resolutions in 3 primary areas:
  • Diet
  • Physical Fitness
  • Bible Reading
Back in August, I joined Weight Watchers Online. During the summer months, I saw my weight reach an all-time high that both shocked and scared me. My wife had dabbled in Weight Watchers for a while earlier, and tried to get me to commit to the program with her, but I resisted. So, when I saw my weight peak higher than ever before, I decided to do something about it. I dropped more than 30 pounds. The time from Thanksgiving through the New Year's Holiday Weekend is a difficult time of the year for dieters. I wrote briefly about that a couple weeks ago. So, between Christmas and New Year's, our family decided that we would have a weight loss contest. It started out just between my wife, Rose, and our daughters, Charissa and Kim, but Steve (Charissa's husband) wanted in as well (At Legget & Platt, where Steve and Charissa work, they have weight loss contests frequently). Steve's participation just about required mine as well. We visited our son, Greg over the New Year's weekend. Both Greg and Emily (his wife) wanted in as well. So now, we have seven people in a 10-week competition. I am back on track with Weight Watchers Online. My variance from the low weight over the difficult period was 4 lbs., of which I have already dropped 2, so at this writing, I am now 2 pounds over my Weight Watchers low. Yesterday I ran into a young married couple that was on campus visiting from Washington state, where they now live. They had never seen me this light, and asked me what I was doing. That was gratifying, but that requires the second resolution: physical fitness.

I am basically lazy by nature. I do not understand runners. I can think of a hundred thousand things I would rather do than to get up early and run. Several of my colleagues run. I think that 3 of them have run marathons. I know that I don't want to do that. When I was younger, I could handle running, if there was a ball involved. About 25 years ago, I can remember dribbling a basketball back and forth on our patio for 20 minutes, constantly moving. You couldn't have coerced me into just running for 20 minutes. The addition of the basketball made it palatable. Now, though, I would just rather sit on the couch. The week between Christmas and New Year's, a new fitness center opened up about 6 blocks from our house. It is called Nitro Fitness, and is a combination of Circuit Training and Core Training. It is designed to be the kind of fitness center, where clients have 24/7 access, and can get in a balanced workout in a little over 30 minutes. I decided to join, and have been there 5 times already. We'll see what kind of results I get after six weeks. That component, combined with wiser nutritional intake, should be an aid.

Final resolution, that of Bible Reading. I've got a new twist here. I have frequently read through the Bible with one-year plans. We have used the One-Year Bible and One-Year Chronological Bibles in reading plans. That is nothing new. On my PDA, I have PocketBible, which comes with DailyReader, from Laridian. So this year I am reading through Tyndale's One Year Bible. The neat thing by doing it on a PDA instead of a printed Bible, is that I can read the text in whatever version I have in my system. I have previously read through the Bible in the NIV, NASB and The Message. This year, I am reading it in the fairly new English Standard Version from Crossway. Logos Bible Software will be releasing a Reverse Interlinear based on the ESV later this year. You can see some references to that on Logos' blog here or here. Still, that part of my Bible Reading Resolution is not too exciting. The truly revolutionary (for me!) resolution is the next part. I am ashamed to admit this in a public forum (for the 3 readers of this blog), but I need to make it public, in order to be held accountable. I teach first year Greek in a Bible College, and yet, I probably have never read the entire Greek New Testament. So . . . during 2006, I plan to read the entire Greek New Testament. I used the Bible Reading plan built into Libronix software to create a plan. Basically I can read the entire Greek New Testament at the rate of about 25 verses per day. I created two plans. The first plan (which concluded during the month of February) includes the Gospel of John and 1-2-3 John (usually considered to be easier Greek). When I finish that plan, I will begin again in Matthew, and then proceed straight through the New Testament (excluding the portions previously read), finishing Revelation by the end of the year. It has been exciting so far!

Since my mentioned our trip to Texas, I might as well include a photo taken of me with Eli, the younger of our two grandsons. He will be 2 in March, but is already manifesting some of the mood swings associated with 2 year old kids. He is cute, don't you think?

Well, that's about it for right now. I am currently reading Portable Dissertation Advisor, and Jim Garlow's (2000) How God Saved Civilization: The Epic Story of God Leading His People, The Church.