Archives For Misc

Blessed and Thankful

September 7, 2016

I am amazed at how God utilizes circumstances, children, and every day life to conform, challenge, and care for his own. This morning I stepped back and thought to myself, “Thank you God for the opportunity and privilege to rear children in the fear and admonition of the Lord. Please place a hedge of protection around them as they begin a new school year.” God is a caring and loving God; He’s doing it through my children, Jack (14 years of age, Freshman in high school) and Nick (10 years of age, 5th grade in middle school).

My boys are a blessing to Missy and me; we are thankful. The boys love the Lord, love soccer, and strive, each in his own way, to honor and glorify God. These boys, . . . they are dependent upon their parents to provide, guide, and love & care for them. Missy and I are happy to take the mantle of shepherding our boys. Is it easy? No, not quite – but certainly a joy. My prayer for my two boys is Paul’s prayer to the Colossians,

“. . . asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God”  (Col 1:9-10).

I am blessed and thankful.

Nick - 5th grade Jack - Freshman

A Tribute to a Pastor

March 13, 2016

Consistently ministering to a flock, of which God has given you the privilege to do so, is an incredible opportunity. Ministering for 40+ years, is even more amazing. I am writing this blog post on behalf of my father-in-law, Bob Baker, who has been faithfully ministering to God’s people for the last 4 decades or so . . . Wow, what a heritage. What an example. Today, however – he retires.

So, what do you say to someone who has left this kind of legacy? Well, you offer biblical reasons to appreciate and value him as a pastor; a shepherd. I would like to review two passages of Scripture that I think best describe my dad’s life and ministry. First, is Paul’s admonition to Timothy in his first letter (4:12-13). Here Paul admonishes Timothy to be an example. This means to offer oneself as an impression; an impression that is used as a mold to shape someone or something else. Paul’s point here is that Timothy should not so much be an example that others can emulate, but that he is to be a mold that should be pressed into the lives of others so they too can attain the same shape. How is this to be done? It is to be done in one’s everyday speech, everyday life, through a selfless love – expecting nothing in return, through a trustworthiness in God, and through a pure life. This represents a faithful servant, minister of God’s word. This exemplifies dad’s character; his life as a godly example for others.

Paul continues in verse 13. Timothy is also to read God’s word, exhort others using God’s word, and teach God’s word. Basically he is admonishing Timothy to immerse himself in the biblical text, encourage others to godliness and while doing so, emphasize the centrality of the text through study, devotion and life. His lifestyle is to be characterized as a devotion to, and immersion in, the biblical text. Again, I cannot think of a better way to describe my father-in-law’s ministry to others and characterize his life lived before others. As Paul states later in the text (v. 16), dad paid close attention to his life and continued in the teaching of God’s word. He and his ministry exemplified Paul’s admonitions to Timothy.

The second passage comes from the first letter written by Peter. Here (5:1-4), Peter admonishes the elders (pastors) with some challenging pastoral responsibilities. The pastor is to feed the flock; that is, consistently use the word of God to grow your people toward godliness. He is also to look after, or inspect the flock. Inspecting the people to ensure that their lives are God-pleasing to the church and community at large. How is the pastor to do these things? Willingly, eagerly, and with humility; exhibiting the godly character for others to emulate.

This is not always easy. But over the years I have watched, and carefully observed these qualities in dad’s life and ministry. He has loved people. He has shared the gospel with many, and by God’s grace, had the privilege to experience God’s working in and through people as they humble themselves and accept Jesus as their Savior. He is an ambassador for Christ (2 Cor 5:20). He has paid careful attention to and devoted his life to the Scriptures. He has taught the Scriptures in order to exhort others to growth in godliness. He has done it without complaint. Why? Because he loves his Lord, and the Lord’s people. He truly understands Hebrews 13:17; that is, to watch over God’s people knowing he would one day give an account for them and he did it with joy. Thanks dad for your example. Thanks for being a Paul to this Timothy.

Pastor Bob Baker and wife Donna

Pastor Bob Baker and wife Donna

 

My Son is 14 today

February 9, 2016

I realize this is not New Testament related, but I love the opportunity to share about my family. My son Jack is 14 years old today. He is my older son, Nick is the younger one. Jack has interests in math, social studies, and sports; specifically soccer (see picture below). I am proud of the young man Jack is becoming and the spiritual growth that God and his word continues to foster. May God bless you son. I love you buddy.

Jack and coachesFrom L to R (me, Jack, & his Missouri soccer coach)

Thanksgiving Day is quickly approaching. It is too often skipped because of the Christmas holiday shopping season. The majority of consumers therefore, see Thanksgiving as the day before shopping really begins, black Friday. In order for us to consider our own time of thanksgiving, I wonder if we could just pause for a moment or two and see how Paul uses the term for ‘thanksgiving.’  To whom and/or what are you thankful? Does God make the list as one you direct your thanksgiving?

I have chosen to consider Paul’s writings because of the number of uses of the Greek word εὐχαριστέω. Paul uses this word in almost all of his letters; especially to “express appreciation for benefits or blessings, give thanks, express thanks, render/return thanks” (BDAG, 415).

The typical structure of Paul’s letters includes an element known as the thanksgiving (Roetzel, The Letters of Paul, 72). It is this formal element, found in all of Paul’s letters except for Galatians, which ends the opening salutation and signals the basic intent of the letter. One could say that the thanksgiving section serves as a ‘mini table of contents’ for the letter.

There is no doubt that each of Paul’s letters is different, touching various issues depending on its original recipients within a given historical context. His letters are occasional, and thus intended for specific situations. Although each letter possesses a unique and different purpose, and therefore is structured to fit the context to which he is writing, Paul still maintains consistency in most of his letters by including the thanksgiving element.

So why does Paul give thanks? And how does this affect me, the reader? Paul typically gives thanks for two reasons. First, Paul’s prayers are God-oriented. He often renders thanks to God; that is, God is the object (τῷ θεῷ μου) of the thanksgiving and/or praise, gratitude (cf. Phil 1:3; Col 1:3; Phlm 4). Paul states in the text that he offers thanks to my God, which is represented by the personal pronoun μου, to demonstrate his personal relationship with God. Hansen states, “The personal pronoun communicates the transforming impact of God’s gracious salvation in Christ Jesus on his own life. God’s grace so transformed him that even in prison his gratitude to God guided his prayers, attitudes, and thoughts” (The Letter to the Philippians, PNT, p. 45).

For Paul, God is uppermost in his mind, especially for God’s work in and through Paul’s recipients of his letters. God and His grace is the source of salvation (1 Thess 1:4; 1 Tim 1:12-16). God and His power removes spiritual hindrances and directs, guides the believer’s path (1 Thess 3:11). God and His gospel empowers fellowship with one another for unity and evangelism (Phil 1:3-5). And God and His love provides hope with the promise of growth through His Spirit to glorification in Christ (2 Thess 2:13-14). Due to God’s work in the believer’s life, Paul expresses gratitude to God.

Second, Paul’s prayers are others-oriented. He renders thanks for, or for the benefit of (περί) his recipients; or for the sake of someone, some entity’s interest (ὑπέρ, BDAG, 1030). Paul not only directs his prayers to God but also for others. Over and over throughout Paul’s letters, he is consistently and persistently bearing in mind those to whom he is writing. His prayers are not self-interested; rather the interest of others takes first place. The reasons for his diligent labor of prayer on behalf of others is the recipients’ faith in God (Rom 1:8-9; 1 Thess 1:3; 2 Thess 1:3); love for others (1 Thess 1:3; 2 Thess 1:3; Phlm 4); hope of Christ’s coming (1 Cor 1:7-8; 1 Thess 1:3, 9-10) and the continued growth in their walk with Jesus Christ (Eph 1:16-19; Col 1:9-11; 1 Thess 3:11-13). Due to Paul’s pastoral and mutual care for the congregations found within his letters, he labors constantly in prayer on their behalf. His joy is found in the growth of others (Phil 1:4-5; 1 Thess 3:6-9; 2 Thess 1:4; Phlm 7) and the love that his recipients share toward for others. This is evidenced through his boasting in God’s accomplishments (2 Thess 1:4).

Paul gives you and I as the reader of his letters reasons to express our gratitude to God for His gracious work in and through us. God continues to show Himself faithful to us, regardless of the circumstances we endure. Are you thanking God for your salvation? For your eternal hope? For your unity with other believers?

He also gives us reasons to offer prayers, selflessly for/on behalf of others. Are your prayers consumed with the list of issues ‘you’ are going through? Or are your prayers also concerned with the growth, mutual care, and love for others? What will God hear from you this Thanksgiving season?

It has been almost six months since I last added a post. It is time for an update as there are a couple things I would like to share. First, I would like to update how we are doing as we complete our first year and secondly, update on the status of this blog.

A year ago today I stood at an intersection on life’s road which left me traveling the road alone. At least that is the way it appeared then and the way it appears to many who find themselves alone after the death of a mate. However, upon the completion of this year, I want to share how different I found the journey. Perhaps I do not fit the norm (I’ve been like that most of my life) but found the journey much easier than I anticipated. I realized as I stood at the intersection that although Rod was no longer traveling life’s road with me, I was not traveling it alone. God’s presence has been evident each day. Finding the strength to face each day comes from God. His Word promises He will never leave us so when moments come that I miss Rod, I realize I switched focus to “poor me” rather than on God’s bigger plan for me. We lost much when Rod died but there’s so much more to life than looking at our losses.
God has blessed me and the family in so many ways this year. Some of the blessings I’ve shared in past posts and space does not allow for me to share them all. His faithfulness has been GREAT. He has provided above all I need. He’s blessed me with great children & grandchildren who make living so special; with a great church family and friends who have encouraged me with their support, prayers and love. A friend of Rod’s sent an email this past week saying he can hardly believe a year has passed and it expressed my sentiments. The out pouring of concern and love, especially during the “firsts” (first anniversary, birthday, holidays, etc.) one faces during the first year was so encouraging and yet there were times when the “firsts” slipped up on me unnoticed until someone reminded me of their concern and support through it. These were a reminder that God was indeed walking with me to help me cope with the changes.

God alone receives the credit for the growth through this year of “firsts” in my life, as well as with the children. I feel we’ve grown closer as a family and appreciate times together even more than in the past just because we know life is short and we never know what the future holds. One thing that has amazed me is the fact that people continue to pray for us. We are so thankful for all the prayers and this update might help in a small way to say thanks and let you know God is answering.

As we start year two, I praise God for all he has done and look forward to another year of growth with him and service for him. There has been much change in the past year and I see new changes coming. One of those I want to share with you relates to this blog. Rod did not know what to do with it during the last days of his life. He had talked with a friend about it but no decision was made. As you have seen over the past year, I do not have the things to offer his readers on the level he wrote. His heart was to give men material that would challenge them to grow in the knowledge of God’s Word and the languages. Unfortunately, I can not maintain that. In the coming months (not sure exactly when) I will be transferring this site to a man who desires to continue Rod’s legacy. In saying that, please know that all Rod’s previous material will remain available.

I would like to introduce him to you now. Dr. Wayne Slusser will be arriving in Clarks Summit in June to become Rod’s replacement at BBS. I hesitate using that word (replacement) as it tends to make one think they have to fit the shoes of the one before. Rod had small feet so there’s no way Wayne (or anyone) would “fit his shoes” and he would never intend for someone to do that. His desire would be for the person to teach the Word and get men excited about teaching the Word to others. Wayne comes to BBS from a Bible College in MO. We first met Wayne & his wife, Missy, when Wayne applied to BBS for the doctoral program in New Testament. Wayne was one of the first PhD grads and is a fine man. It gives me great joy to know he will be filling the hole left by Rod’s death. Wayne has a desire to carry on Rod’s vision. He will be busy settling in to the area and preparing to teach here so please be patient and pray for him as he begins this new chapter in his life. He’s a bit overwhelmed with the thought of being Rod’s replacement, but I know God has put him here–not as Rod’s replacement, but as His servant to teach men to love Greek and to know the Word of God.

This might be my last post on NTResources but not sure how the dynamics will work in the next month or so. Thank you all for letting me share God’s working in our lives over the past year. Most of all, thank you for your prayers and words of encouragement.

To God be the glory, great things he has done!

A Tribute

December 5, 2014

Many men have paid tribute to Rod over the past 6 months. The family appreciates the kind words given on behalf of Rod and his ministry. We are thankful that God can continue to use his work in years to come–but much of that has been said in previous posts.

Those who knew Rod, knew he was a family man and enjoyed his children and his grandchildren. Tonight I would like to share a couple tributes that God has given our family as a remembrance of Rod. On May 29, just a few hours after we had placed Rod’s body in the grave, our youngest daughter-in-law gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. What a precious ending to the day! They named her Autumn Joy and she has been a joy to our family but especially to Grandma. God in his wisdom and grace allowed Sherry to wait through the last few weeks of Rod’s life to give us joy upon his departure. One would think God had a sense of humor.

Then on Dec. 4 at 1:30 in the morning, our oldest son called and informed me they were leaving for the hospital in preparation for the delivery of our 13th grandchild. Later in the day, Sarah Mae was born. Here again it could have been a hard day as Dec. 4 would have been Rod’s 62d birthday, but God’s humor gave a special gift in tribute to Rod. I will never forget these two birthdates. So the family has lost one life but gained two. Our prayer is that these two young ladies will grow up to love the God their grandfather served even though they never knew him.

On another note, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the two volumes from Baylor of Rod’s Handbook on Mark. My apologies to Baylor for the slowness in giving honor to them; serving has kept me very busy! The folks from Baylor were so gracious at the end when Rod no longer had the strength to proof the final copies. Marty Culy did a great job with editing as well as Wells Turner, Mark Mills, and others who stepped in to assist. Word of the impact Rod’s books generated at the annual ETS meeting was passed on to me. How exciting to hear that these two books, as well as his Koine Reader from Baker, were so well accepted. To God alone goes the praise and glory for this.

At times, it has been so overwhelming to see God’s work over the past six months; not just in the books and work Rod had done, but how God’s been working in my own heart and life. When a couple works together as a team for almost 40 years, it seems like any service was done by both. Having grown up on a farm, my father always had a team of horses to do some of the field work. I can remember how important it was to him to have a team that was matched and worked well together. That picture of teamwork so impressed me that I thought 1/2 a team wasn’t a team at all. But it’s not that way with God as he uses a couple as a team but can also use the one left behind. I praise God for being able to find work for this 1/2 of the team so I can serve him still. It remains to be seen what he will do with me, but I’m excited to be a useful servant even though not a team any longer. I praise him too for helping me keep things in focus and to think on Him rather than him (Rod). Many people say that the firsts are the hardest after a death of a loved one and that holidays are hard. I can agree with that, but am also coming to realize that it can become a crutch and cause one to focus on what’s been lost rather than moving on and allowing God to lead and direct as well as fill the void.

Soli Deo Gloria

Richard W. Engle
1933 — 2014

RWE Barb

Christian, OT scholar, pastor, mentor, friend, colleague

“Life is tough, but God is good—all the time.”

ThB, Baptist Bible Seminary; ThM, Dallas Theological Seminary;
ThD, Grace Theological Seminary

d. 3/9/2014

RWE RD BA

L-to-R: Richard Engle, Rod Decker, Bill Arp

Dick and Bill joined the faculty at the same time and taught together at BBC and later at BBS (Dick in OT, Bill in NT) for 35 years until Dick retired in 2006. I was one of their (undergrad) students when they arrived on faculty, later worked as Dick’s student assistant/grader, and many years later I was privileged to become their colleague on the Seminary faculty.

RWE 1

At Dick’s retirement service in 2006 (as are the other pictures above) with his wife Barb

In the Preface to my forthcoming grammar (Reading Koine Greek: An Introduction) I wrote this:

One other prof deserves mention. Though he was not one of my language teachers, Dr. Richard Engle is one of the chief reasons why I persevered in Greek. He came to the classroom after ten years of pastoral ministry. In his theology and Bible classes I saw a blend of the biblical languages, theology, and ministry. He later became a Hebrew professor in seminary, but in his undergrad classes he convinced me that if I was serious about Scripture, I had to be serious about the biblical languages; I could not get by with lip service to the original text. He not only taught it, he modeled it. Dick’s example guided my attempt at a similar integration for the dozen years I spent in the pastorate and is the vision that I now try to communicate to my students who aspire to pastoral ministry.

A memorial service will be held at Heritage Baptist Church in Clarks Summit, Pa. on Tue., Mar 18 at 4 pm; visitation 2–4 pm.

A personal note

January 29, 2014

I don’t like to clutter the blog with too much stuff regarding my health, but for those of you who keep asking…

December was a (relatively) good month. I had some energy back and felt much better than Sept-Nov. Unfortunately, January began a downward trend. The chemo has stopped working and the cancer is spreading aggressively once again, enough so that I can feel the difference markedly. So as of Friday this week I begin a different chemo regimen—one that is more aggressive with potentially more troublesome side effects. We’ll see how it goes…! I managed to keep my hair through the first round (though much thinner and shorter), maybe I’ll get to be bald with the new prescription! 🙂

For those of you who have asked that I post an update, here’s the current status of things. (This is not NT related, so those of you who are not interested in my personal situation are hereby allowed to close this tab and move on! 🙂 )

It appears that the third form of treatment that I’ve been on now for about 2 months has proven unsuccessful. Tomorrow I begin “plan D”—chemo. I had surgery yesterday to implant an infusion port. I’m pretty sore today from that procedure, but the biggest hassle is not being able to drive yet or to lift x lbs. (I’m sure the Dr. said something like 20#, but my wife insists that it wasn’t anywhere near that much! 🙂 ), so my wife had to get up with me at 4:30 this morning and drive me to the seminary for my 6:30 am Greek class, etc.

At this point I don’t know what the routine will be, how long the chemo treatments might last, or how my body will react to such harsh treatment. But God does. That’s good enough for me.

Inescapable realities

September 1, 2013

I was thinking last night about “inescapable realities.” There are, I suppose, many such things that would fit that description—and some of them depend on the individual. But it was impressed on me that I’ve been living with two such realities for nearly a year now.

1. The reality of God and my Savior Jesus Christ. That is certainly not a new reality for me, but it is not just a theory or convenience either. I’ve never doubted it, though I will admit that a few times over the years I’ve conceded to Pascal’s wager in that regard.

2. The reality of death. That’s certainly not new either since the human mortality rate is 100%! 🙂 So I’ve been “terminal” for over 60 years. But this past year has made that fact more vivid since the cancer (stage 4, incurable) I’ve been dealing with (for the second time now) will almost surely take my life at some point (unless “reality #1” should chose to do something unexpected or unless I get run over by the proverbial truck first). I don’t anticipate that happening soon and I am planning to teach a full load this year. But the probability of reaching “three score years and ten” has dropped over this past year, though perhaps I will surprise some folks (and myself!).

Some friends have gently reminded me this past month that I’ve not said much of late as to how I’m doing. I’m not one to talk about it a lot, but for those who know me well enough to care, I will say that despite the treatments that I began late last Feb. working exceptionally well for some time, as of mid-summer they ceased being effective and the cancer has been spreading quite aggressively once again. I began a new treatment regimen about 3 weeks ago, though it’s too early to tell what effect that is going to have. So long as I stay at my desk, I’m still productive, but I’ve had to admit defeat on many things physical. I managed to change the oil in my car yesterday, but it took me several hours—but I did it! I can handle “tractor work” (like raking or baling hay for my son) since that’s “sit down” work, but such things as stacking hay on a wagon or in the mow, swinging a weedeater, or cutting wood are, at this point, “past history.” I’d like to think that I could still run the wood splitter if I didn’t have to wrestle 3′ diameter logs, but I haven’t had a chance to test that one yet. If I had a stool at the splitter and someone to feed me the material… maybe. 🙂

I finished two major books this year—that was my goal as of last Dec. when I discovered that the cancer was back aggressively. If I can get them “shepherded” through the proofing process over the next 6 mths or so, I’ll be glad. Whether I dare commit to another project of that size in the future, I don’t know yet.

“I … hope that I will … have sufficient courage so that … Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death” (Phil 1:20).

Most of you will just shrug when seeing this post, but for those of you who enjoy good typography for the sake of art/appearance, here’s a marvelous (IMHO!) book cover design. (Both of you will like it! 🙂 ) And no, it has nothing to do with NT or Greek—though the letter π does occur!

TypogrCvr

The book itself is not of interest to me, I just happened across the cover in a book catalog this afternoon. But if you’re interested in such things, this is the cover for:

Chases and Escapes: The Mathematics of Pursuit and Evasion by Paul Nahin (Princeton University Press, 2007, new in pbk. 2012—it’s the new pbk. that has the typographical cover).

And now you know why the ‘2’ has feet and the π is running up the stairs.

While relaxing on vacation, reading no less, I read an interesting blog post at Don’t Eat the Fruit (John Dyer) on the loss of reading and writing, the hurried pace of modern life, etc.—from the late 19th and early 20th centuries! The irony is that I was reading it in an RSS reader (the soon to be “late” Google Reader) that was summarizing a web comic…! 🙂 It’s still well worth reading.

Time for a break

June 16, 2013

I’m writing this note from New England. We’re in the midst of a leisurely 3 day drive through New England enroute to Prince Edward Island—the “home” of Anne of Green Gables. About two years ago I promised my wife her choice of vacation as my thanks for caring for my father, and that was her pick. So now that my father has gone Home, we’re fulfilling that dream. We found a great steak house last night to celebrate our 39th wedding anniversary. If you ever run across one of these (it’s a small chain in the NE with about a dozen locations), I recommend it highly.

NewImage

We’ll drop in on a former student this morning for the Sunday morning service where he pastors (no, I didn’t tell him we were coming! 🙂 ), then head on further north to rendezvous with a former seminary classmate who pastors in northern Maine and enjoy a meal together before we head on across Canada to Nova Scotia and PEI. We have a cottage reserved for a week, and then we will meander back home to Pennsylvania. We have tickets for the musical “Anne & Gilbert” that is playing in PEI while we’re there and we’ll explore the area where that story is set. Dozens of lighthouses, etc.–though this early in the year we’ll probably be wearing sweatshirts most of the week (temperatures will range in the 50-60s according to the forecast). We’re hoping to drop in on L. L. Bean’s “flagship”/home store while traveling through Maine (though we won’t have time to hit any of their other 4 specialty stores in Freeport). In about two weeks we’ll be back home.

Suffering and Grace

April 10, 2013

Dave Doran posted a very helpful, perceptive essay yesterday with which I resonate. It was written following a tragic accident that nearly took his son’s life last week, but the principles that he sketches are just as true of many other situations, whether death or illness. He says better than I some of the things I tried to express a month ago when I noted here that I had a recurrence of cancer. There are some similarities between being hit by a tractor trailer and discovering (with little warning) that you have stage 4 cancer.

For those of you who have expressed your concern for me and prayed for me, thank you. I’ve been under treatment for almost 6 weeks and it’s really quite amazing how much of a positive impact the treatment has already made. I feel better than I have in several months. It’s not a cure (my cancer is medically incurable), but it has already shrunk the size of some of the tumors and it appears that it will keep the symptoms and further spread at bay for a while, we just don’t know how long.

An old church bulletin

April 1, 2013

I’ve been going through my father’s files as I’ve had time over the past couple of months. I ran across this church bulletin today and it was too good to pass by. So I decided to scan it and post it here… FWIW! I’d guess this was in the early 1960s, probably 1962, though it is undated. (Sorry to make you twist your neck to read it, but I can make it larger that way.)

OBC1962bulletin sm

My two cents: 1. A creative way to address a budget problem! (Note especially the possible solutions!) 2. Creative use of technology for 1962—that means a mimeograph machine and a typewriter! My father was not an artist, but he was a very capable creator of stencils. How he did some of this stuff is beyond me.