2 New Greek Books, 1 Book on Paul: Thanks To Zondervan & Baker

Merry Christmas
To: Michael
From: Zondervan & Baker

I want to offer up a big "Thank you!" to the gifts from Zondervan & Baker that have recently been sent along to me. I also want to encourage others to check out the resources I mention below (just click on the links).

The first book I want to mention is Beale, Brendsel, and Ross's An Interpretive Lexicon of the New Testament. This is a Zondervan publication and is, for all intents and purposes, a compact dictionary to NT particles. There are some interpretive helps but the real value, in my opinion, is to be found in the "quick-reference" aspect of it. Unlike with BDAG, which this book is based on, users do not have to carry around a huge book nor do they have to flip through thousands of pages. By the same token, they don't have to wade through long dictionary entries. No, this book is lightweight, user-friendly, and a real time saver. Each entry typically cross-references to the works of Wallace or others, which can also be helpful at times. This book does not function in such a way that it adds tons of new insights to the field. As I said, it's real value is found in its quick-reference features. I would commend this work to anyone interested in particles, you know, those tiny Greek words that so often give shape to an entire phrase, clause, or sentence. You can pick up your copy from Zondervan HERE in ebook ($9.99) or print form ($15.99).

An Interpretive Lexicon of New Testament Greek
Interpretive Lexicon of NT Greek
The next book I want to mention, also from Zondervan, which showed up in hardback form, is Studies in the Pauline Epistles: Essays in Honor of Douglas J. Moo. This book includes essays by big-hitters such as G.K. Beale, Craig Blomberg, James D.G. Dunn, Grant Osborne, Thomas Schreiner, and N.T. Wright, among others. It is divided into three sections: Exegeting Paul, Paul's Use of Scripture and the Jesus Tradition, and Pauline Scholarship and His Contemporary Significance. Within these sections there are essays covering numerous topics such as the Old/New Perspective on Paul, eschatology, Greek grammar and translation, etc. Weighing in at over 300 pages, this book is a bit more up the scale in price ($49.99). You can pick up your copy HERE.

Studies in the Pauline Epistles
Studies in the Pauline Epistles
The Last work I want to mention in this post is one sent along by Baker: Reading Koine Greek: An Introduction and Integrated Workbook, by the late Rod Decker. This book, clocking in at over 700 pages, is simply beautiful...it is one of the nicest Greek grammars I've seen. My copy is in hardback form. The layout is superb, easy on the eyes, and the information is, as with all of Decker's work, top-notch. For years I have only really been promoting David Alan Black's book, which I will continue to do, but this one has rightly found its place alongside that recommendation. With this Greek grammar I finally feel like I can tell me students "Get this!" without hesitating and without saying, "But be cautious about this..." I appreciate the fact that Decker offered the Koine Era Pronunciation (which I use at CKI and which is historically accurate) and I certainly appreciate his views on the Middle Voice and so-called Passive Voice (if you're not up to speed on that conversation, this might be a good place to start!). As I said, I would recommend this book to anyone interested in Greek grammar(s). You can pick up your copy HERE. Many thanks to Baker for sending this along!

Reading Koine Greek Decker
Reading Koine Greek (Decker)
If you're looking to buy the scholar in your life something for Christmas (or if you are a scholar wanting to give some gifts to yourself), consider these works. Merry Christmas y'all!


Want To Get Published? FREE Review Copies

Recently, I was approached by some folks who oversee the theology/biblical studies journal Religious Studies Review (RSR), which is based out of Rice University, and was asked if I would join the editorial team. I gladly accepted the offer as a sub-editor and am now overseeing books related to the Gospels, particularly the Gospel of Mark. Part of what this means is that if you are someone interested in Markan studies and someone also interested in getting awesome books in exchange for writing reviews (and by the way, RSR's reviews are typically about 600 words in length!), then it would be great for us to be in touch. Of course, I can't promise everyone who approaches me a book and I can't promise that I can get you a book, but if the situation avails the opportunity, I can work to try to make it happen. Having said that, at present, I have three books sitting on my shelves that need to be reviewed. If you are interested in any of the following, do let me know asap and we'll try to get things squared away. You can contact me directly through the form found HERE.

* D.T. Roth: Metaphor, Narrative, and Parables in Q (WUNT 315)
* A. Wypadlo: Die Verklärung Jesu nach dem Markusevangelium (WUNT 308)
* Eds. Wischmeyer, Sim, and Elmer: Paul and Mark: Comparative Essays Part I Two Authors at the Beginnings of Christianity (BZNW 198)

***UPDATE** (11/18/14 at 9pm EST): The work Paul and Mark has now been claimed as has Metaphor, Narrative, and Parables in Q.



The Bible & Ministry: An Interview with Dr. Ellen Marmon

Here is a recent interview I did with Dr. Ellen Marmon on "The Bible & Ministry". It is such a blessing to know Ellen and fun to interview her. The interview, which was a real treat has us discussing things like missions, calling, ministry, gay marriage / homosexuality, etc. You will be blessed watching/listening to this. Oh, by the way...it is audio only set to a still frame photo. That shouldn't deter you though...seriously, you'll be blessed by Ellen's pastoral nature, witticisms, and insights. Enjoy!


An Interview With Dr. Ben Witherington, Pt. 5: The Bible & Ethics

Here is the fifth installment of my conversation with Ben Witherington in which we discuss Pacifism, Homosexuality, and more.


An Interview With Dr. Ben Witherington, Pt. 4: The Bible & Theology

Here is the fourth installment of my conversation with Ben Witherington in which we discuss Calvinism, Dispensationalism, the future of United Methodism, and more.


New Book: "The First Steps to Learning Koine Greek"

I am pleased to share with you today, the news that my newest book τὰ πρῶτα ἴχνη: The First Steps to Learning Koine Greek is now available. This book also has over 60 companion videos, which is essentially one companion video per lesson in the book. This is a great resource for those just getting into Greek, especially youngsters. Homeschoolers and lower schools teaching ancient languages will find this to be a fruitful resource alike. You can see a few samples below and can purchase the book HERE or HERE.


Rethinking Halloween: A Christian Viewpoint (Repost)

It has become somewhat of a tradition to repost here on my blog a piece I wrote a few years back regarding the relationship between Christians and Halloween. In fact, this will be the seventh year in a row for reposting this entry.  Each year I have posted this, great conversation has been sparked and I hope that the same will be true this year.  So, if you are a Christian who is debating whether or not Halloween is right for you and your family, please, check out this post because it may just help you out.  Happy reading!

It's not uncommon these days in North America to find some Christian somewhere who makes it their agenda to moderate and critique holidays. Currently, this can be illustrated by a simple perusing of Godtube.com, where a ridiculous debate is going on between those who call themselves believers. Some think it is okay to celebrate Halloween and others do not. Those who do not, as you might expect, label those who do as "un-Christian", "satanic", "worldly", "secular", etc. I can't help but laugh on the one hand and be heart-broken on the other. Clearly, too many people who act as though they are holier-than-thou, are over zealous and under informed. Their logic isn't even clear most of the time!

So, how does one who calls themselves a Christian counter people who act too pious? Well, the place to begin is to rethink Halloween. In fact, it might not even be "re" thinking as much as "thinking in the first place". For example, it is helpful to know that Halloween doesn't have its origins in a secular holiday, no, it can be traced back to Christian roots; it was a Christian holiday celebrated by the Celts (e.g. All Saints' / Souls' Day or Hallow's Eve)--even though the Celts were considered by many to be barbaric. Even more than that, and perhaps, more importantly, it goes back to the end-of-summer Celtic celebration called Samhain, an agricultural festival. This was the time when people would soak up the "light" and prepare for the "dark" winter months. It was a time to celebrate agricultural fruits and goods before the harsh winter came and killed everything. Hmm, so, it was more about life than death in some ways, right? Yes!

So, the over-zealous evangelists who argue that this is a satanic ritual, a celebration of death, etc., need to chill out a bit. I sense that many Christians have a problem with all of the ghoulish attire on the one hand and the supposed celebration of death on the other. Well, as for the ghoulish attire, we may recall that in earlier centuries, the Church actually used ghouls and whatnot to ward off evil spirits. Many modern church buildings still have gargoyles on them. As for the celebration of death, I think too many people have over-played this whole idea. I mean, those of us who have lost loved ones, there are certain times of year and certain things we do to commemorate their memory: We think of them, look at pictures, share stories, go to graveyards, etc. None of this is considered evil, satanic or un-Christian.

On a similar note, some suggest that by celebrating death we are nullifying the resurrection. This is simply not true. First of all, Christians commemorate Christ's death (and resurrection) in communion; Christ Himself bade us to do this. Second of all, to remember the deceased is clearly not the same thing as worshipping them or celebrating death itself. It is this point that I feel many are missing. In missing this point, one Christian accuses another and everything just becomes ridiculous or, no joke intended, even "evil" and "nasty" and "ghoulish".

In the 19th century, when Halloween migrated to North America from Europe, it was not a "devilish" holiday still. For example, the whole custom of "jack-o-lanterns", a pumpkin with a candle inside, was meant to resemble the soul of a lost one who might be waiting in purgatory. It was meant as a reminder to pray for that person or to simply, remember them. But it was also meant to be a symbol of celebration, of celebrating that person's life on earth. So, people would be merry and jolly and walk through the streets singing, sometimes even with bands. Often, this turned into a type of parade. Still, the custom existed that, if you have a jack-o-lantern on your porch, it was not just a memorabilia thing, it was a "message" too; a message to others that your loved one might need prayer or that you might need help appeasing God with gifts for that person's soul. So, people began leaving gifts, nickels, dimes, quarters, etc. next to the pumpkins.

As time progressed, people, usually youths, began stealing these monies (which kind of became an expectation after a while) and run to the stores to buy treats and candies. Now, it's not too big of a step from this "thieving" to marauding and causing trouble--eventually, that's exactly what began to happen! Today, that's what much of Halloween has come to stand for and symbolize: pranks, danger, stealing, causing trouble, marauding, etc. And if there is anything to be against as a Christian, when it comes to Halloween, these types of things are it!

In a world where holidays have become increasingly domesticated (e.g. Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, etc.), it seems as though Halloween is the one night, the one holiday, where youths can go out, act crazy and try to subvert the holiday norm(s)! This too, should give us pause! Not only should it give us pause for negative reasons but maybe positive ones too: Maybe we should stop watering down and domesticating all of our meaningful holidays!

So, in the end, there is no good reason for Christians to call each other names or to accuse persons of satanic or whatever. Just as well, there is no reason that Christian children should not be able to go out for candy, dress up and have fun. There is nothing evil about this. I would also say that our kids do not have to be "evangelistic" and dress up as Bible characters, etc. (though there is certainly nothing wrong with them being Bible characters). One last thought: Perhaps this holiday which is so often associated with darkness and evil, brings out the darkness and evil that reside in the hearts of many who call themselves believers. Yes, the name calling, the slandering, the hatred, etc. is all evil and it is all illogical. In my view, Halloween can be a profitable holiday, if for nothing else, to subvert those types of attitudes, a subversion done with merriment and tasty candy!


My New Book: "Give Me That Book"

Just a quick note to let you know about my latest publication, this one with Seedbed, which is titled Give Me That Book: A Primer for the Practice of Inductive Bible Study. You can read the intro for free HERE and, if you buy it today, you will get a 25% discount HERE.


New Book: Matthew & Mark Polyglot

I am pleased today to announce the release of my latest book, a co-authored project with Dr. Fred Long, which is a 6-language polyglot on the Gospels of Matthew & Mark. This work clocks in at nearly 500 pages (474 to be exact) and has every verse of each Gospel in Hebrew, Latin, Greek, English, German, and French. You can pick up your copy HERE or HERE. For more great language resources check out GlossaHouse.com. This is the third volume in the Hexapla series but is actually in print before Vol. 2, which focuses on Pauline literature and is currently being worked on. You can check out Vol. 1 on Luke-Acts here.


Is the Rapture Biblical? Afraid of Being Left Behind?

Here's a video I filmed a while back for Seedbed but which is just now, in light of the new "Left Behind" movie coming out, has been released. I hope you find it to be informative.


An Interview with Dr. Ben Witherington, Pt. 2: The Bible & History

For those interested, here's the second part of the interview with Dr. Ben Witherington, III. In the course of this discussion we talk about the 3 Quests for the Historical Jesus, the Synoptic Problem, Israel (then and now), archaeology, prophecy, influential scholars, historical criteria, and much, much more. Check it out.


An Interview With Dr. Ben Witherington III, Pt. 1: The Bible & Its Difficulties

Hello Friends, I just wanted to quickly bring to your attention the first video interview in a series of interviews that I'm doing with Dr. Ben Witherington. The first one deals with the topic of The Bible & Its Difficulties. We get into things like inerrancy, authority, inspiration, difficult passages, etc. Check it out below. Enjoy!


Recent Interview With Pete Enns

Hi Friends,
I just wanted to draw your attention to a recent interview I did over at Pete Enns's site/blog. I share one of my major "Aha! Moments" as a Christian and Bible scholar. Check it out HERE.


FREE eBook: "Arminianism FAQ"

Over at the Seedbed website you can get a free ebook by the esteemed Roger E. Olson titled Arminianism FAQ: Everything You Always Wanted To Know. I just downloaded my free copy and it looks great! The subtitle may be stretching the scope a bit as it only covers 19 topics and clocks in at 25 pages, but hey, it's free, and it's written by an excellent scholar. Here's an overview of the contents:

1: What is classical Arminianism?
2: Is Arminianism a sect or denomination?
3: Why identify a theology with a man’s name? Why not just be Christians?
4: Why is there a rising interest in Arminianism? Why have blogs and books about a “man-made theology”?
5: Isn’t there a middle ground between Calvinism and Arminianism?
6: What’s the difference between Arminianism and
7: Does Arminianism include belief in absolute free will? If so, how could God have inspired the authors of Scripture?
8: Doesn’t Arminianism rob God of his sovereignty?
9: Doesn’t Arminianism lead to Open Theism?
10: Can an Arminian resolve the mystery of divine foreknowledge with Molinism?
11: Doesn’t Arminianism imply that the decisive element in salvation is the sinner’s free decision to accept Christ, thereby giving saved persons permission to boast of partially meriting their salvation?
12: Doesn’t Arminianism lead to liberalism in theology?
13: Is the first principle of Arminianism free will?
14: How does Arminianism explain Romans 9?
15: Why are there no Arminian spokespersons, great preachers, or leaders, like John Piper, John McArthur, R. C. Sproul, Matt Chandler, et al.?
16: What makes a person an Arminian?
17: Where is prevenient grace taught in Scripture?
18: Doesn’t classical Arminianism really say the same thing as Calvinism when it comes to the sovereignty of God?After all, if God foreknew everything that would happen and created this world anyway, wasn’t he foreordaining everything simply by virtue of creating?
19: Can an Arminian explain the few crucial ideas that distinguish Arminianism from Calvinism for non-scholars?


Interview About Teaching Koine Greek Conversationally

Hey Friends, I just wanted to bring to your attention a recent interview I did on teaching Koine Greek immersively/conversationally. Check it out HERE.


New Book "Mark: Illustrated Greek-English New Testament"

Today I am pleased to announce the release of my latest publication, a co-authored project with Dr. Fred Long, which is titled Mark: GlossaHouse Illustrated Greek-English New Testament. This is the first volume to be printed in GlossaHouse's "Illustrated" series of New Testament Greek works; so, be on the lookout for more! You can see a sample of the cover and a few pages of the interior below. You can pick up the book on Amazon HERE. For more great resources like this one visit www.GlossaHouse.com.


"Kingdom Rhetoric" Book Included in New Testament Abstracts

The academic journal New Testament Abstracts recently featured an overview/abstract of Kingdom Rhetoric, a publication I edited and contributed to last year. Check out the entry below.


Is "Intimacy With God" A Biblical Idea?

Recently, I had the opportunity to review William Goodman's book Yearning for You: Psalms and the Song of Songs in Conversation with Rock and Worship Songs for the Review of Biblical Literature. I quite enjoyed reading the book and it both touched the nerve of and articulated clearly some of the potential theological problems inherent to modern Christianity's obsession over "intimacy with God," especially within the context of worship. I commend this book to all, especially those interested in worship, worship studies, and/or worship leading. You can get your copy HERE. As a preview, here's a paragraph from the full review, which you can download and/or read HERE.

One of the major insights garnered from this chapter, which is now exegetically sustained, is the reiteration that “The Song presents the delights (and occasionally the challenges) of a human sexual relationship, with no overt reference to God at all” (183), while the “Psalms present a desire for God which is not overly expressed in the language of eros or romance” (184). While placing the texts in conversation with one another shows that throughout the biblical canon “sexuality and spirituality are not divorced or opposed” (183), it also reveals that sexual-intimate language was used by the writers of Scripture to describe human-to-human interactions, not divine-to-human interactions. This insight, in my view, should cause those who compose modern worship songs and lead worship in modern settings, to tread much more carefully in how they describe the type of relationship Christians should seek and have with God today.


My Book "Entering the Fray" Receives Another Very Favorable Review

Recently, my book Entering the Fray was reviewed by Steven Hunter (currently a Ph.D. candidate) and like others who've engaged the book, he gave it another very favorable review. He first posted it on Goodreads.com HERE and then Amazon.com HERE. For the sake of simplicity, I have simply reposted his review below. Have a look and pick up your copy HERE.

Have you ever heard a preacher say one thing and a read a scholar write another only to find that one seems pompous while the other seems ignorant? Entering the Fray is a great book that attempts to bridge the gap between the church and the academy. Halcomb shows the heart of a disciple and the prowess of a scholar. In his unique way, he explains "issues" pertaining to scholarship that both bless and plague the church. 

Each chapter has a link to an online video of Halcomb himself giving a brief synopsis of the material within that chapter. In the book, however, he gives a pithy introduction to draw the reader in, then he "tunes in" to some preliminary notes on what he'll discuss. Thereafter, he "takes note" by expositing the issue and concludes each chapter by focusing his attention on how this information should either be reconciled with the church if it can at all.  

What's remarkable about this book is Halcomb's modesty. He, at times, admits that there are certain problems, but he balances the information and dissemination of it very well. He weighs not only those scholars who would uphold the faith, but also those whom the faithful believer might find threatening. Why? To present all that's been said and what's currently being considered in the academy. Moreover, the reader -- lay or otherwise -- will be introduced into the "evolution" of thought within biblical scholarship.  

Here's something worth noting: some people will pick up this book and be enlightened by the history of theses presented therein. Others will pick it up and think that some of these scholar were desperate for a dissertation thesis. Whatever one might feel while considering this information, they'll not feel as threatened or unsafe when sophisticated people talk about issues with certainty. The reader is left to make up their own mind, but Halcomb does his best to reconcile these two worlds of the church and the academy which may have the opportunity to be one. He does this well on many points, but some may not agree with him on everything.  

I'd recommend this book to serious people within the church who want to dig deeper than what a Sunday sermon or Bible class will offer. You'll certainly enjoy this read if you're serious about the information and about understanding why some things are the way they currently are in commentaries and other biblical study aids.  

The only criticism that I'd offer is that -- considering that there was much to think about -- Halcomb sometimes saturated his chapters too heavily with information. However, the information isn't unimportant, but if he wants to appeal to church-going folk who are ignorant of academic theories, this may be too much at times for some. But, we all know that you can't please everyone. Even in the depth and breadth of information, the reader should understand Halcomb's reason -- he wants to "help congregants, pastors, students of the Bible enter into the fray of the discussions that have shaped the field of biblical studies, and in turn, the church" (p. xii).  

I've had the opportunity to meet and converse with Halcomb on a few occasions. He operates the Conversational Koine Institute (http://www.conversationalkoine.com/) where he offers classes via the internet to those who are interested in learning Koine Greek -- the language of the New Testament. He teaches in a conversational style, and he's great at it. The classes are very engaging. I took one last summer and enjoyed it but was unable to complete it due to my schedule. I'd recommend anyone taking these classes with Halcomb. He's a wonderful person, a thoughtful disciple, and he's talented in many ways as a teacher.  

I want to give a big thanks to WIPF and Stock Publishers who gave me a copy of this book to review.


An Interview About My Book "Entering The Fray"

Hi Friends, I just wanted to point you in the direction of a recent interview I did about my book Entering the Fray. Thanks to Matt Montonini for doing the interview on his "New Testament Perspectives" blog and encouraging others to dig into the book. Check it out HERE. If you'd like to get a print or digital copy of the book you can do so on Amazon.com.


"Start Here!" - A New Grammar Resource For Students

I am pleased to announce today, the release of a new language resource for students.  The title of the project is:

Start Here! Grammatical Foundations for Students of New Testament Greek (A Student-Friendly Video Series). As the title suggests, this resource is video-oriented.  It is divided up into 6 main lessons and contains around 5+ hours of grammatical instruction (see image to the left - click an image to enlarge it).  Each lesson consists of a number of short, user-friendly / student-friendly videos and takes note of nearly 200 grammatical concepts that English learners / speakers who want to venture into learning Koine Greek should find helpful.  The videos are available for purchase ($80) HERE.  Once the purchase has been confirmed, buyers will be sent a download link.  I hope that these videos will assuage some of the fears that students, especially beginners, have when journeying into learning Koine Greek.


The UK Game Delays School In KY

In Kentucky, school gets called off, delayed, or ends early for many weather related events.  My kids have missed more school this year than I think I ever missed in one year during my time as a student in K-12.  It has been a crazy winter for KY and my kid's school has actually extended each day by 15 minutes to make up the lost time!  I also saw just last week that the school in my hometown was put on a 1-hour delay because of a rainstorm (which presumably caused some roads to flood).  But today I witnessed another first, that is, delaying school tomorrow (Tuesday) because of the UK Wildcats game tonight (Monday)!  Check out the note to the left, which I just received from my kid's principal/school!  (No, this is not a joke!)  Yeah, the rumors are true, we're pretty hardcore about our college basketball around here!  Go cats!  #bbn


Ancient Greek Honor Society: Gamma Rho Kappa (GRK)

Gamma Rho Kappa
Recently I had an opportunity to sit down with a friend and colleague, J. Klay Harrison, to discuss the newly launched (International) Ancient Greek Honor Society. The name of the society is Gamma Rho Kappa (GRK; see the logo to the left).  In the interview we discuss the purpose of GRK among other things.  You can listen to it for free HERE (scroll to the bottom of the page to download it for FREE).  You can also learn more about GRK and read some relevant documents HERE.  Chapters are already forming in academic institutions.  Why not bring a GRK chapter to your school?  Download the audio and click the above link to learn how.


5 Simple Ways To Be A "Missional" Family

Before too long we will be celebrating the birthday of one of our children.  We look forward to birthdays in the Halcomb household for several reasons, including the ones that most people enjoy:  We celebrate each other and with each other, we get to play with family and friends, and we give gifts to the birthday boy/girl.  But there's another reason that we enjoy birthdays in our family:  We get to be missional!  

As is the case with many American children, our kids have more toys than they need.  Birthday parties tend to compound this problem.  So, beginning with our daughter's third birthday, my wife and I decided that we would begin being missional by, instead of asking those coming to the birthday party to bring presents for the child, they would help us do mission work locally.  Now, I'm not saying that we forbid our kids from receiving gifts on his/her birthday or that we, as parents, don't even give gifts--we do.  But what I am saying is that on a day where most of the focus is on one of our kids, we also want our kids to make the most of that opportunity to help others.  It is really nothing more than teaching kids at a young age to use what they have to make a difference for God's Kingdom in our local context.

So, for example, on our daughter's third birthday, the invitations asked guests to bring school supplies for a local school that desperately needed them and had children who needed them.  After the party, I took our daughter to the school and she, a mere 3-year old gave the principal 3 loaded gift bags of school supplies.  The principal welled up with tears and embraced our daughter with a big hug, and gave her very encouraging words.  In recent years we have also had guests bring animal food/toys, etc., to the party for the local animal shelter, basketballs/baseballs and sports equipment for an inner-city YMCA, board games and toys for children of African refugee families, and this year blankets, sheets, and bedding materials for a local rescue mission/homeless shelter.  Every time we go, we have the children give these gifts!  We do all of this missionally, in the name of Jesus.  It is a great way for a family to practice together making the most of opportunities and what they have, leveraging it for God's Kingdom.  Give it a try!  Your kids will learn how fulfilling it is to serve and give.

Another way that we are missional as a family, which is closely related to this, is by helping families during the holidays by participating in programs like the Heifer Project.  The Heifer Project aims to end poverty and hunger and one of the ways it does so is by allowing folks to purchase and donate animals (such as chickens, cows, etc.) to families in other parts of the world that rely on them for sustainability.  At Christmastime, for example, we have made donations in the names of family members and they have always been grateful.  Our interaction with the Heifer Project has been a positive one and we'd encourage others to participate.

A third way that we are missional as a family is through sponsoring families and children in need.  My wife and I have both worked very closely with one child sponsorship program, which we helped start, and have been involved with Compassion International for over a decade now.  Two Ethiopia organizations we've really come to love are Transformation Love and EmbracingHope Ethiopia.  We currently sponsor a few children through these ministries.  Our kids really enjoy learning about Ethiopia (we have adopted and are adopting again from there) and my wife and I have even been able to meet our sponsored family in person.  

Related to the previous paragraph, another way to be missional as a family is to sponsor families in the mission field.  These ministers can be local or non-local (overseas).  On our refrigerator door right now we have a few photos of missionaries that we think about and can pray for.  We sponsor one missional family whose goal is to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ in India.

Another way to be missional as a family, which not every family will likely be able to participate in, is through one's family business.  When I launched the Conversational Koine Institute one of my goals was to leverage the educational process itself for those who need education.  One way that I do that is to give a portion of the tuition that comes into CKI to a ministry that aims to do this.  It has been wonderful, even in my first year of business, to be able to offer financial gifts to missionaries and ministers who seek to bring education and educational opportunities to those who traditionally have not had access to them.  This is but another way to begin being missional as a family.

There are other ways that my family serves and shares in order to advance the Kingdom of God but these are five very concrete, practical ways.  I share them because often times families are eager to be missional but lack the know-how to do so.  Thinking about the upcoming birthday also got me thinking that these things might encourage others to be missional, whether in the same or different ways.  Regardless, I think it is a great thing for Christian families to be showing their children how to be Kingdom-minded, Kingdom-aware, and missional at a young age.  What neat and encouraging things does your family do to be missional?


2 SBL Papers Accepted

I just got word that my second paper (which is the limit for presenters) was accepted for the 2014 annual Society of Biblical Literature meeting in San Diego. This paper will be presented in the "Applied Linguistics for Biblical Studies" section and is titled "Setting Students Up To Fail Biblical Languages: An Assessment of Assessment." My other paper, which was accepted in the Global Education & Resource Technology section, is titled "ἡ καινὴ σχολή· Communicating Ancient Greek Via Modern Technologies." The Greek here (ἡ καινὴ σχολή) means "The New School," which is actually how it will appear in the SBL program because their platform, interestingly enough, is not able to handle Greek characters. Anyway, this is good news and I look forward to participating in both of these fine sections!


Free: 2 Videos & 1 Article

Hi friends,
I want to draw your attention to two FREE good videos, one of N.T. Wright and one of Greg Boyd, which you can see below.  In addition, I want to draw your attention to a free article by Steve Runge which you can download HERE.  Hope you find these resources helpful.


Are They Still Using The Criteria Of Authenticity?

Yesterday I started reading a book that I'm reviewing for a journal, a book that I'm already finding quite interesting.  This new (2013) work by Michael J. Thate is published by Mohr Siebeck in their WUNT series and is titled Remembrance of Things Past?: Albert Schweitzer, the Anxiety of Influence, and the Untidy Jesus of Markan Memory.  What I've read thus far is very well-written and thought-provoking.  I am keen to continue reading the rest of the volume.

Before I get to Thate's thoughts on Chris Keith's work (as well as those who contributed to the anti- or post-criteria work he edited), two things should be mentioned.  First, the end-goal of Thate's work should be noted.  He says that this volume of his attempts "to (re)situate the historische Jesu Frage within the wider discussion of secularization both in terms of its history of interpretation as well as its contemporary constructions" (14).  Further, it is an "experimental critique in the formation and reception of discourses and a theorizing of reception criticism" (14).  The book is divided into two parts and the first of these focuses heavily on Albert Schweitzer's work.  This leads me to the second point, that is, that Thate frames the whole discussion of historical Jesus studies in relation to Schweitzer, whom he (correctly) describes as one if its most influential and strongest voices, perhaps even "the strongest" (20).

In Thate's view, scholars have basically been attempting to break out of Schweiter's mould for centuries.  In separating from him, they might believe that they can make a long-standing name for themselves.  Scholars have longed to "escape his influence" and "'clear imaginative space' for new and exploratory approaches" to ancient Jesus materials.  The attempt to escape, an attempt often made by striving to get out of Schweitzer's straightjacket and free from historical criteria, is something Thate says is actually a "tip-of-the-cap" to "Schweitzer's enduring genius" (20).  That, I think, is a word on target.  

Now, what's really important to note is that this attempt to escape criteria, what Chris Keith and others are attempting to do, is what Thate, drawing on Ward Blanton and Jacques Derrida, describes as "outbidding" (16).  The attempt to escape from criteria is also an attempt to escape from the Quest for the Historical Jesus, which is characterized as unfounded and misguided by some scholars, including Morna Hooker, Scot McKnight, and others says Thate.  But what is outbidding exactly?

Outbidding occurs when an interpreter of a tradition presents themselves, as Blanton (Displacing Christian Origins, 8) notes, "as outdoing the religious communities or traditions in view" so that they might then present "their own thought as a kind of 'purified' or 'originary' version of the religious tradition they criticized."  In short, Thate is arguing that Chris Keith et. al., are outbidding when they attempt to overthrow Schweitzer and offer their own "pure" or "originary" alternatives; they see themselves as "doing Christianity one better" as it were, than their predecessor(s).

Thus, those like Keith, with their outbidding statements "entrench themselves against the history of interpretation as being misguided and operating within the wrong set of rationality" (16).  But, says Thate, what really happens when those who issue calls "to terminate the use of the 'traditional methods employed by Jesus historians' is that without analyzing the doxa of these 'traditional methods'", they simply "change into something more comfortable" (16).  Therefore, Thate contends that when Keith argues "if the historical-Jesus enterprise wishes to step out of its 'methodological quagmire' its only hope is through 'media criticism and memory theory,'" all he is really doing is taking the same old argument, that is, the "criterion" argument, and putting it in new dress.  Or to cite Thate, "Though certainly promising on many counts, the purported 'post-criteria' approach adopted here (i.e. by Keith et. al.) cannot escape the erotics of 'authenticity' or the gaze of the originary.  This is a Quest for the pure genre; the authentic genre; the real genre.  As such, this amounts to little more than the criterion of authenticity in drag" (17).

In the end, according to Thate, "A 'post-criteria' approach" is really a type of re-aestheticizing and re-racializing "of the very criteria which they think they have left behind" (17).  Readers of these anti- or post-criteria works, then, should not turn a blind eye to the processes of outbidding that are taking place and the redressing of old ideas; readers should beware.

Since I just started working through the volume, I still have some ground to cover.  But I look forward to engaging what already seems to be a very learned, informative, and well-written, study.  When I was writing my book Entering the Fray and writing my chapter on the the so-called Quests for the historical Jesus, or the history of historical Jesus research, one of the most enjoyable parts was reading and researching Schweitzer.  So, I'm glad to read up on this influential man once again and Thate's work is already proving an enjoyable entree.  I'm grateful for the opportunity to review this book.

PS:  You can also get the .pdf version of Thate's dissertation HERE.


On Being Bold And Humble As A Bible Scholar

In the first post of this series, which you can read HERE, I talked about the notion of being wrong as a Bible scholar.  In my discussion I considered the dangers of feeling like one always has to be right as well as the fears of being wrong.  I noted that these fears can sometimes causes learners to freeze up, to stop in their tracks, and to not just "go for it" and put themselves and their work out there.  This leads into today's post, which is concerned with being bold as a Bible scholar.

From the start, I should say that when I think about boldness I do so in relation to humility.  One can be both bold and humble at the same time; these two things are not necessarily in opposition to one another.  Being bold is not the same thing as being cold or being a jerk.  Being bold has to do with finding the courage to maintain and share one's values without compromising in the face of pressure.  It is not bandying to the whims or views of others so one is not left out of the "in crowd."

Within the academy there are at least two factors that scholars, especially young, budding, up-and-coming scholars, can easily fall prey to:  1) Buying into the so-called "majority views" at the fear/risk of being pegged as one of the non-majority; and 2) Compromising one's beliefs and views because some of those who are perceived to be thought leaders or the intellectually elite do not espouse such views.  Both of these things are very much alive and well in the academy!  I've experienced the pressure myself and I've seen my peers face the same.

But there comes a time in a scholar's life when they must decide that they will think through things critically, especially those things that seem to be popular at the moment.  Fads, as in any sphere, come and go.  People who buy into fads tend to be very easily influenced.  Yet, a backbone is needed, a theological backbone especially.  One must be bold enough not to be influenced in undue ways while at the same time being bold enough to change when the evidence (and Spirit!) calls for it.

Boldness is also needed to break new ground in this field.  It is easy to go along with so-called "majority views" but that seldom leads to any new ground being tilled.  When one has a new view, it is quite easy to suppress it out of fear.  Some fear that they will be ousted, mocked, ridiculed, trampled over, etc.  There is, in fact, good reason for such fears because these things do happen.  The internet and social media has simply made it much easier to do.  Now, anyone can start a blog, facebook, or twitter account and drag another person through the mud.  So, a certain level of boldness is needed to not only deal with such things but to put oneself out there.

Now, when I speak of putting oneself out there, I do not simply mean starting a blog or twitter account and spouting off about whatever you want.  Instead, what I'm talking about is putting one's research out there, one's work out there, and one's well-formulated ideas.  Again, anybody can blog and much of the stuff on blogs, or the internet in general, does not meet the criteria of being well-formed or rooted in solid research.  It is the deep research that exudes scholarly boldness, not mouthing off about something when the requisite study has not been undertaken.  You see, when someone takes to writing on social media or blogs without the proper level of studiousness, what they'll tend to do is overcompensate; what they lack in scholarliness, they will often (more than) try to make up for in put-downs, name-calling, sarcasm, etc.

It takes no boldness to approach things this way.  In fact, as we all know, these things are usually masks for deep insecurities.  I know this personally.  What does take boldness, however, is to have done deep research and to submit that research to the scholarly community for peer-review.  Of course, people can bypass the peer-review process in this day and age and can basically even pay to do so.  It takes some guts to go through this process!

So, to make it in this field part of what is needed is an appropriate amount of boldness coupled with humility.  In my own life I know that when this equation becomes lopsided, I will most certainly say or write something I might just regret down the road.  But all of this is part of the learning curve; it's all part of the process.  As I move forward in my own scholarly journey, I will continue to examine where I'm at in this regard and strive to strike a fine balance.  That takes some guts too, I think.  


On Being Wrong As A Bible Scholar

Today I'm starting a series built around the theme "On Being A Bible Scholar." In each post of this series I am basically going to use some noun or adjective to help describe certain types of Bible scholars or certain characteristics of Bible scholars. I write these posts, of course, from the perspective of being "in the know" or within the circle; I also write as one who has often observed some of the traits in myself, so, when there are critiques, I'm definitely not exempt. So, to start the series off I want to talk about being "wrong" as a Bible scholar.

Being wrong is not something any of us, scholar or not, tends to aim for or to enjoy. Indeed, it would be rare to embark upon a goal with the hopes or intentions of being wrong. That, of course, is different than embarking on a goal with the realized possibility of being wrong. But there is a sense within the field of biblical studies that being wrong is to lose face, to lose social prestige or standing. Thus, it is in one's best interest to be right, even though that's not really possible all of the time (and we all know that).

Again, nobody sets out to be wrong but there are some dangers that come along with feeling like one has to be right all of the time. I have felt this pressure. One of those dangers is that it is easy to become closed-off or closed-minded when it comes to additional data, especially data that may call one's own view or hypothesis into question. Closely related to this is the danger of stunted intellectual and spiritual growth. The converse of this, however, is not necessarily true, that is, that to accept every idea that comes down the pipeline means you are intellectually superior or spiritually advanced. In fact, those types of actions can, in my view, be signs of weakness because they show an inability to reason through arguments and think for oneself.  In addition, the fear of being wrong can truly inhibit the creative process and can even cause one to stall (whether temporarily or permanently) and never produce or put their work out.  Recently, one of my students was expressing this sentiment to me, so, it is definitely real!  But there is a sense in which we just have to go for it and put ourselves and our work out there.  

Moving on, I might also say that when a Bible scholar always has to be right, another danger they can run the risk of is always being defensive. Now, being defensive is different than defending one's views. Being defensive is to hold a posture that listens to nobody, that responds to non-personal criticisms personally, that puts false words in the mouths of critics to slight or misrepresent them, and that isn't willing to entertain with any real seriousness counter-arguments. Offering a defense, however, is to hear a person out fully, with the intention of seeing if what they have to say can sharpen or better your own view (e.g. you may be bettered by allowing a certain view to be done away with).

In my own journey, I have had to relinquish views I once held dearly and I have adopted views I once called into question. This experience, however, was (and continues to be) formative. There are also times when I have found myself coming off to others as a know-it-all, an arrogant scholar.  This has happened typically without me being aware of it.  Thankfully, I've been blessed by a few honest people in my life who were willing to be truthful with me, and to point that out to me. So, I have been striving toward such self-awareness for a while now. I do not desire to to be the kind of scholar who must always be right and who resorts to belittling others if they call me or my views into question.  

Please don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that being wrong is, in and of itself, virtuous. But I am saying that a posture of humility, which is a posture that leaves space to be wrong, is needed; such a posture, I do think is virtuous. Years ago, when I was very much into apologetics, I walked around with the former mentality while these days, more and more I aim for the latter. I always find it something of an admirable thing when reading a journal article or commentary and the author says, "In a former writing I held this view ___, but since then my understanding has changed." Such comments are encouraging and, as a newly minted PhD entering this field, I find that they help relieve some of the stress of always having to be right.

Should we strive to be right? Yes, I think so. But we should also strive to be humble. I love what Abraham Heschel once said, "When I was young, I admired clever people. Now that I'm old, I admire kind people." That remark has really been convicting in my life in the last few years.  I have come to truly admire clever people who can advance scholarship while being kind and humble. The ability to mix cleverness with kindness is something rare, I think. Cleverness often breeds arrogance, which is at odds with kindness. Cleverness also often blinds one to the fact that they can be wrong.

While I think things like spirited debate and civil arguments are good and can even be edifying, I've also found that the danger of surety can often lead a Christian to step out of who they are in Christ, all in the name of scholarship, to prove they are either a) more clever, or b) more right than others. I'm the first to raise my hand in guilt.  It is so easy, especially as a young scholar trying to rise in this field, to feel the need to have to prove oneself, establish oneself, and make a name for oneself, and in the process, to fall prey to always having to be right. Perhaps it's something we all need to be more aware of and reminded of with greater frequency. 


Theological Educators Forum On Orality: Why Pronunciation Matters!

Here's a portion of the flyer for the upcoming "Theological Educators Forum on Orality" that I'll be participating in.  In this presentation, which comes on the heels of one I gave at a conference last week titled "Never Trust a Greek...Professor: Revisiting the Question of How Koine Was Pronounced," I will really focus in on the so-called "Erasmian pronunciation" and the damage it has caused both inside and outside of the academy.  The paper at the Forum on Orality is titled "Erasmian's Role in Linguistic Genocide: Issues Concerning Morality, Orality, and the Pronunciation of Koine Greek."  There will be an audio version of this presentation available in an upcoming episode of the "Get Greek! Podcast" hosted by the Conversational Koine Institute. (The previously mentioned presentation will also be available in a forthcoming episode of the podcast.)  In addition, Asbury Theological Seminary will be making a 7-minute follow-up video.  I look forward to getting more of my research on the pronunciation of Koine out there and I hope it can be a catalyst in shifting the tides of pronunciation in Western colleges, universities, and seminaries.


New Book: "Speak Koine Greek: A Conversational Phrasebook"

Hello friends, I am pleased today to announce the release of my newest book, co-authored with Dr. Fred Long, titled Speak Koine Greek: A Conversational Phrasebook.  Speak Koine Greek contains over 240 sayings, expressions, phrases, idioms, and figures of speech from ancient (Koine) Greek. This work has been strategically arranged into simple categories (Getting in the Conversation, Staying in the Conversation, Ending the Conversation) with each entry ordered alphabetically by English glosses and followed by both a phrase that is similar or comparable in Koine as well as a source citation. Speak Koine Greek is a user-friendly compilation of expressions meant to help learners progress in fluency and knowledge of Koine while having fun doing so. You can purchase the book on Amazon.com HERE or HERE.  As a further add-on, companion audio files for this book are available for purchase and download at the GlossaHouse website HERE.

Here are a couple of blurbs from the back cover:

"Michael Halcomb and Fred Long treat us to a smorgasbord of Koine Greek expressions for conversation. By learning how to speak in the language of the New Testament, which is what this book helps us do, one's reading ability of the Greek Bible can grow exponentially. I commend this book to students, teachers, or anyone interested in learning to converse in Koine Greek."

Wyatt Graham
Ph.D. Candidate, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

“As a busy Church planter I am always looking for fun and fresh ways to sharpen my understanding of Ancient Greek. This book does just that, helping the reader to speak, and so to think, Greek.”

Chad Graham
D.Min. Candidate, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary


New Book On Sale Today!

I'm pleased to announce today that my newest book, Ποῦ Οἱ Σταφυλῖνοι  Εἰσιν; (Where Are The Carrots?) is on sale for $7.65 HERE at Amazon.com.  Ποῦ Οἱ Σταφυλῖνοι  Εἰσιν; is a short story written in Koine Greek by Dr. T. Michael W. Halcomb and some of his family members. The story revolves around two horses and their missing carrots. Where did the carrots go? Did someone take them? Read and/or listen this fun tale to find out!

This is the first story in the new διήγημα ἐν τῇ Κοινή διαλέκτῳ (A Story in Koine) series, which is part of the "Conversational Track" in GlossaHouse's "AGROS" curriculum suite.  In addition to the print version of the book a listen-along audio file is also available for purchase below.  The audio file contains a 6-year old female child  reading the story and also an adult male reading the story.  

In addition, there is a watch-along video (in an animated flip-book/page-turn style) of the book available for purchase below. Purchase the audio and video files together an save (see below)!

The print version of the book is sold separately from audio/video companion files. The print version can be purchased HERE (Amazon) or HERE.
Audio Only ($5.99)
Video Only ($7.99)
Audio + Video ($11.99)


A Live Performance of Philemon

Here is a performance that I recorded of Dr. David Rhoads performing Philemon at the 2013 SBL pre-conference Performance Criticism event in Baltimore, MD. Enjoy!


Upcoming Conference Papers/Presentations

Despite having finished the Ph.D., life has not slowed down; indeed, I'm still just as busy as ever...maybe even more so.  In addition to teaching 8 classes at the Conversational Koine Institute this semester and launching the CKI podcast, among other things, I am preparing to deliver several papers.  As a well-known presenter once said, "I'll keep doing it until I die or the audiences die."  Hopefully, neither will be the case this time around but on the off-chance that you might be interested in what's on the horizon, here are some of the titles (with at least two more, which are not listed here, waiting to be confirmed):

* "Never Trust a Greek...Professor: Revisiting the Question of How Koine was Pronounced" (Stone-Campbell Journal Conference, Knoxville, TN - March 14-15)

* "Acknowledging an Overlooked Element in Markan Christology: 'Preparing the Way' for a Reconsideration of Mk 1:1-4" (Stone-Campbell Journal Conference, Knoxville, TN - March 14-15)

* "Erasmian’s Role In Linguistic Genocide: Issues Concerning Orality, Morality, and the Pronunciation of Koine Greek" (Theological Educators Forum on Orality, Wilmore, KY - April 3-4) - *Note: This essay will be collected for publication.

* "ἡ καινὴ σχολή· Communicating Ancient Greek Via Modern Technologies" (Annual Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature, San Diego, CA - November 22-25) - *Note: This essay may be collected for publication.


FREE Koine Greek Reading of Genesis 1:1-5

learn to speak biblical greek
A FREE dramatic audio recording of Genesis 1:1-5 in Koine Greek has been posted over at the Conversational Koine Institute.  Check it out and even download it.  While you're there, have a look around the site and come learn to speak biblical Greek with us!


46 Reasons Why You Don't Want To Pastor A Church

As many of you know, I have been serving in some capacity in a church for over a decade now.  I love the church.  I'm an advocate of "church renewal," which we good Methodists talk a lot about.  Not only do I think church renewal is needed, I believe it can happen.  I think it begins with education, specifically a robust theological education.  So, as you read this, know that I love the church.  If you don't keep that in mind, you'll certainly misread me.

I have served in the children/youth pastor role, sr. pastor role, assistant pastor role, worship leader role and Bible study and Sunday school teacher role.  I've sat in board meetings and voted, I've led mission trips, I've planned events...I've worn many hats and assumed many roles in the church.  I love the church!  In spite of the many times I've been burnt, mistreated and criticized, I still love the church.  In spite of the fact that my wife was once mugged during a church service by a couple of street thugs, I still love the church.  I've written books for the church and I continue, with the Conversational Koine Institute, to teach ministers and pastors Koine Greek.  

I'll say it again, just to be clear, "I love the church."

I have been teaching the last three years (almost) at the same church as a Sunday school teacher.  I love doing it.  I love not being paid to do it.  I think that my class is probably the most unique class in any United Methodist church anywhere; they are a great group of people.  Did I tell you, "I love the church"?  I do!

But I, personally, didn't love being a pastor.  Sure, there were great times and times that I enjoyed.  But I didn't love it. And there were many reasons for that.  I left the pastorate over 5 years ago and honestly, I haven't looked back.  And honestly, I don't have any intentions of doing so.  But I teach (and probably always will teach) people who are either in or considering being pastors.  I love them too!  I care deeply about them.  I know firsthand many of the things they will struggle with or are struggling with.  I've been there; I can relate.  I want to help them and I also want to educate them, not just in educational types of subjects but also in regards to ministry- and pastor-related things.  I've had many friends, Bible college friends, leave the ministry.  And some of the reasons for that can be found on my list below.  

When I was in Bible college, all I wanted to do was be a pastor.  Once I got into it, however, I realized that there were many dynamics, variables and matters that I simply had no desire to be part of.  So, why am I saying all of this?  Well, this post was prompted, in part, by a blog post that Dr. David Murray of Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary wrote titled "21 Reasons Why You Don't Want To Be A Seminary Professor."  I think he made some okay points but, in fact, I think he overstated his case quite a bit (especially with all of his definitive "you will" statements).  In conversation with a friend about this, I was asked if any of the things on this list were or were not experienced that led to me moving away from desiring to be a pastor.  So, I wrote this post.

Basically, what I did was take Dr. Murray's 21 reasons "not to be a seminary professor" and pretty much in a "word for word" manner (except I changed his "you will" to "you may"), simply added on to them.  Thus, in the list you'll find below, there first 21 "reasons" are his, except I've added the material after the periods of ellipsis ("...").  In short, I've taken his reasons "not to be a seminary professor" and used those same exact responses, all the while giving more explicit details, about why you might not want to be a pastor of a church. In addition, I've added 25 additional reasons (totaling 46).  I could've come up with more, for sure, but I decided to push the pause button there.  So... 

I want to preface this list again by reiterating, one last time, that I love the church.  I'm not bashing the church. All I'm attempting to do here is to give a list of reasons why folks who might be considering the pastorate, should question such considerations.  So, please, don't make me "lose my faith in you" because you want to distort or misread what I say here, as if I'm bashing the church or pastors/ministers in general.  That's simply not the case!  

46 Reasons Why You Don't Want To Pastor A Church
  1. You may lose the joy of seeing souls saved through your preaching...when you later see them fall away.
  2. You may lose the joy of helping people in the toughest life situations...because they don't help you in yours.
  3. You may lose the joy of feeding and edifying God’s people...because they never feed and edify you (or are even concerned with this).
  4. You may lose the joy of shepherding children through teenage years and into adulthood...because you realized that, at the same time, you neglected your own children.
  5. You may lose the joy of preaching evangelistic sermons...because you realize nobody really, truly wants to do evangelism.
  6. You may lose the joy of building long-term spiritual relationships...because people often move away.
  7. You may lose the joy of taking responsibility for your own flock...when they bash, criticize and badmouth you over Sunday lunch and to others during the week (and sometimes to your face)
  8. You may lose the joy of developing and working with a team of leaders...because you'll realize they're not really leaders in their homes, communities or the church.
  9. You may lose the joy of helping people make massive life decisions...that can backfire and come back to haunt you.
  10. You may lose the joy of seeking a fresh word from the Lord for His people...who don’t really listen to that word; it just goes in one ear and out the other.
  11. You may lose the joy of preaching to a people you know intimately...and who, because they know those deep things, may hold what they know about you against you or for blackmail.
  12. You may lose the joy of seeing long-term spiritual maturity...because people in the church often just do not want to become spiritually mature; it's just too much work.
  13. You may lose the joy of seeking and recovering lost sheep...because you'll eventually be the only one in the church with that burning desire; it's just too much work.
  14. You may lose the joy of seeing God miraculously provide for the church’s financial needs...because the wealthy in the church may take care of it and when they do, gain some political power.
  15. You may lose the joy of being loved by young, middle-aged, and old Christians...because only one of those groups can really relate to you at a time and vice versa.
  16. You may lose the joy of learning from the least educated and gifted of saints...and they may hold that over your head, warning you of the dangers of (your) education.
  17. You may lose the joy of identifying and growing people’s gifts...because they may use those gifts to try to manipulate you for their own gain.
  18. You may lose the joy and privilege of bearing the scars of pastoral ministry...because we all know earning and bearing scars from those in your flock is a joy.
  19. You may lose the joy of winning over enemies in your congregation...because they may make your life hell and try to divide the church if it comes down to it.
  20. You may lose the joy of helping Christians die...even though in the years after the funeral, the family may forget all of the ways you helped and served them.
  21. You may lose the blessing of God if you are pursuing a calling God did not give you...and your congregants may remind you, maybe even often, that this might not be your calling.
  22. You may lose the joy of developing theologically because the church doesn't want you to change your views.
  23. You may lose the joy of deep, intensive Bible study because so many other things may demand your time.
  24. You may lose the respect you once had for elders because you see how they really speak, think and carry themselves both in meetings and in life.
  25. You may lose the respect you once had for deacons because you see how they really speak, think and carry themselves both in meetings and in life.
  26. You may lose the respect you once had for the church when you see its dark, political underbelly.
  27. You may lose respect for other ministers when you uncover their real motives and experience their frequent power trips.
  28. You may lose the respect you once had for congregants when you see how they treat your spouse and children.
  29. You may lose the fire you once had because everybody in the church expects you to do the work.
  30. You may lose time watching your kids grow up because every night of the week something's going on at church and you're expected to participate.
  31. You may lose your sense of self-worth because you feel pressured into taking sides with people to keep your job.
  32. You may lose the joy of ministry you once had because now that money is involved it is a job, not a ministry.
  33. You may lose out on family time because you can never really go away for the weekends.
  34. You may lose your patience with the hypocrisy of congregants when they consistently judge themselves by their motives but judge you by your actions.
  35. You may lose respect for your fellow brothers and sisters in the faith when you see and hear how they treat others both inside and outside the church.
  36. You may lose the desire to teach because you may realize that people don't want to mature spiritually and really don't care about the Bible.
  37. You may lose hope in people when they "switch churches" because they were too immature to deal with an issue.
  38. You may lose close friendships when people move away.
  39. You may lose your sense of awe for the Gospel because church becomes about numbers and statistics rather than spiritual growth.
  40. You may lose respect for yourself when you cave to the demands of others.
  41. You may lose your sense of pride and allegiance in God's Kingdom when you see everyone mixing it with nationalism and patriotism.
  42. You may lose the love you had for people when, after you leave, nobody reaches out to you, keeps in touch with you or continues ministering to you and your family.
  43. You may lose your desire to preach when people stand up during your sermons and challenge you in front of everyone (yes, this happens!).
  44. You may lose your desire to see the youth ministries grow because you realize that this so-called ministry actually perpetuates spiritual and intellectual immaturity.
  45. You may lose the friends you once made because once you go to another church the so-called "friends" now want nothing to do with you and have no time for you.
  46. You may lose heart because you will be criticized for being lazy and only working 1 day per week...and working a non-laborious job at that.

Hmm... and this list doesn't even include mention of scandals really, like the one I experienced as a member of the high school youth group where the pastor's teen daughter had an affair with the youth pastor.  The youth pastor eventually left and divorced his wife, with whom he had two children, and married the girl.  Sadly, he's still a music minister and his wife is involved in such capacities from time to time too.  Yes, these sorts of things are real and disorienting and if you're going into the pastorate, you should not only be aware of them but ready for them.

If the pastorate is for you, that's great.  If not, that's fine too.  As I said above, "I love the church.  I'm not bashing the church. All I'm attempting to do here is to give a list of reasons why folks who might be considering the pastorate, should question such considerations.  So, please, don't make me "lose my faith in you" because you want to distort or misread what I say here, as if I'm bashing the church or pastors/ministers in general.  That's simply not the case!"  I wish pastors didn't have to face any of these things but that's simply not the reality.