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Sunday, December 20, 2015

Starting Over

For a 74 year old codger, this is rather daunting! But in following God's leadership over the half century plus of ministry, the challenge of starting over has come along several times. From a purely human standpoint the move from Santa Ana, Costa Rica to the Baptist Retirement Community in San Angelo, Texas has gone surprisingly smoothly. No major obstacles have come our way thus far.

Much of this has come about -- I believe -- through a combination of following God's leadership and careful, detailed planning ahead. The move has generated a lot of emotion for both Claire and me. The sad part was in leaving behind many, many friends in Costa Rica. Claire made small Christmas ornaments as farewell gifts for friends and we gave away almost 90 of them, mainly to friends in Santa Ana, as well as at church. We had not realized the extent of acquaintances that we had made in the town where we lived for five plus years.

Upon arriving in San Angelo, Tuesday, Dec. 8, a whirlwind of activities was unleashed in getting set up to occupy the duplex apartment, which we did on Tuesday, Dec. 15. Everyone here has been very gracious and helpful to us. Within this almost two week period of time, we have begun to realize just how profoundly this move is impacting our lives. On the positive side, it has been really fun to begin again in setting up a household with virtually everything being brand new. Never been able to do that before in my 74+ years on planet earth. But spending so much money in such a short period of time has felt really strange. Fortunately, we had saved up a nest egg of funds to enable us to be able to do this. Keeping track of orders and deliveries has within itself become quite a task. We have a garage literally full of packed boxes that will need to be emptied over the coming few weeks. This especially after the 64 boxes shipped from Costa Rica arrived on Friday.

We are really liking our apartment. It's small and compact -- a little larger than the one in Wesseling Germany but smaller than the one in Santa Ana, Costa Rica -- but I think it is going to work well for us. Especially the single level with no stairs to climb. The biggest challenge probably is going to be for Claire and me to share the second bedroom as an office. This we have never tried before, so a lot of patience will be necessary. With the apartment being just across the street from the "highrise" building that is the center of the independent living section of the retirement center, everything is very convenient. Already we are meeting many new friends here at the center and are looking forward to getting acquainted with many more as we get settled in. A college friend from Wayland days now living in Oregon sent me the phone number of dear friends of hers who live here at the center. So we are looking forward to meeting them.

Following God as He directs one's path through life is always exciting, daunting, and a wonderful adventure. Certainly that is the case for us as we move into this new phase of our life in San Angelo. Never could I have ever imagined what that path from the Lord would have followed over these seventy plus years. But I wouldn't trade it for all the money in the world!

Monday, September 14, 2015


In beginning the in depth study on the idea of marriage and wedding from a Christian view point, I have made some very interesting initial discoveries. Have you ever tried to define the term 'wedding'? What I have come to realize is that this term is among the most culturally conditioned terms in human language. Interestingly no specific Hebrew word in the OT precisely means 'wedding.' Yet one cannot read much of the OT without realizing that a wedding ceremony was the essential beginning point for a marriage. But inside even the OT such a ceremony varied from one period of Hebrew history to another, and by the beginning of the Christian era it tended to be significantly different from most of those alluded to inside the OT.

Add to that the modern traditional wedding ceremony has almost no connection historically or conceptually to what was practiced by Christians in the apostolic era of the first century. And I use the term 'modern traditional Christian wedding ceremony' extremely loosely. Having lived now both in Europe and Central America for many years, I have realized the vast differences among Christians. This has been highlighted even more by working in international Baptist churches of wide multi-cultural backgrounds of the members.

One of the early insights has been that throughout the biblical era both Jews and Christians celebrated a wedding, but it is a party rather than a religious service. Most of the time, the bride to be was not even present. The closest thing to a set ritual would be when the fathers or guardians of the bride and groom formerly reaffirmed the marriage contract agreement negotiated out some time earlier. No religious leader presided over even this ritual. But among Christians this all changed with the emergence of sacramentalism in patristic Christianity. Most modern Christian practices have far more in common with emerging RC sacramentalism, than with anything found inside the Bible.

This is going to be an interesting study! 

Saturday, August 22, 2015


HISTORY OF ANGELS: What People Have Thought. This 62 page study in pdf format is now available in volume 37 of the BIC Commentary series at The central focus is on the teachings of scripture about angels but a wide variety of perspectives historically is included in the study as well.

The most fascinating aspect from this study has been seeking to trace down how angels who in the Bible resembled young Jewish men in their twenties turned into young females and occasionally children from the post middle ages on. The surrounding cultural influences upon the developing views of angels have been enormous upon almost every Christian group from the third century to the present. So much so that understandings of angels have depended far more on pagan religious teachings and extra canonical Jewish writings than on the scripture itself. The reformer John Calvin issued stern warnings in the middle 1500s about Christians devoting much attention to angels. From this study, I have come to realize the profound wisdom in Calvin's warnings.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Reflection on moving back home.

Another big transition point that marks our earthly journey is just around the corner on Dec. 8, 2015. It has been a decision long in the making as we have prayed, reflected, and sought the leadership of God in knowing just what to do. The decision has been difficult to make for several reasons. In the five years here in Costa Rica we have grown to love the country, the people, the culture and the climate. Leaving such a place is never easy. God opened up numerous ministry opportunities during these five years through the International Baptist Church of San José. Service to God through serving others has been the goal of our retirement years. And the Lord gave us seven years of doing just that, first in Germany and then in Costa Rica. But now the time has come to move into another phase of our lives in the Baptist Retirement Community at San Angelo, Texas. 

The symbolism of this move for me personally is significant. I was born and raised in the edge of west Texas in Jack County Texas. Now I will finish out my earthly journey in that same west Texas. In between has been 55 years of living in different parts of Texas, in North Carolina, in different parts of Germany, in Switzerland, in France, and in Costa Rica. A journey I could not have ever imagined as a youngster growing up. 

In the commitment to Gospel ministry made in 1957, no boundaries were imposed on God's leadership. Early on, the thinking was to pastor churches in west Texas in ministry. But God's calling as a seminary professor and then as a university professor opened unimaginable opportunities to serve the cause of Christ in different parts of the world, both in the classroom and in the pulpit. Learning several languages, both modern and ancient, has provided deeper insights not just into life but especially into the scriptures in their historical setting. Teaching ancient Koine Greek and the New Testament on both sides of the Atlantic has been central to this work. Serving as senior pastor of two churches in Texas and one in Germany over twelve years of this time was a bonus in the package.

For over twenty years Claire has been my constant companion as wife, friend, and partner in ministry. What a blessing she continues to be. We have laughed, cried, and enjoyed life together in following God all over the western world. In this final phase back home in Texas, ministry will continue; just on a much more limited basis. The website has touched almost a quarter of a million lives over the fifteen plus years that it has existed. And writing Bible study materials for posting on the website will continue our ministry outreach for the foreseeable future. 

God has given us a wonderful life in ministry to Him. I've met and befriended people from all over the world  For a kid growing up in rural Texas where the edge of the world that I experienced was the stockyards of Ft. Worth, TX 75 miles away, God has opened up wonderful horizons of the people of the entire world and their great need of the saving grace of Christ through the Gospel. Deo sit gloria in excelsis! 

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Now available: Vol. 10, FIRST CORINTHIANS, in the BIC Commentary series at A SINGLE VOLUME commentary of 287 pages in the pdf format, To follow in time will be an in depth coverage of over a thousand pages. This commentary covers the entire text of First Corinthians from a socio-rhetorical exegetical perspective.

Paul addressed unique problems found almost entirely only in this one Christian community. At the center of the fist full of problems plaguing the church at Corinth stands a segment in the church that continued to think in their Greek culturally conditioned manner rather than turning to God's way of thinking at conversion. First Corinthians stands as a huge warning against every modern culturally twisted version of the Gospel in our world.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

THE GOSPEL OF RESURRECTION: A Socio-Rhetorical Study of First Corinthians Fifteen in the BIC Commentary Services volume 37

A 52 page analysis of Paul's response to the perversion of the idea of resurrection floating around some of the house church groups in mid-first century Corinth. Paul pulls together, in a highly creative manner, the structuring of classical deliberative persuasive Greek rhetoric with insightful arguments utilizing traditional scribal Jewish patterns of argumentation from his days as a Pharisee. He powerfully defends the apostolic Gospel emphasis upon the centrality of Jesus' resurrection and its connection to the resurrection of Christian believers at the parousia of Christ.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Περὶ δὲ τῶν πνευματικῶν in 1 Cor. 12-14.

What about the issue of τῶν πνευματικῶν? In First Corinthians 12-14, the apostle Paul critically evaluates the abuse of and twisted teachng about τῶν πνευματικῶν in the mid first century Corinthian Christian community. This church had adopted pagan Greek thinking out of their background in the city and considered it superior to the apostolic Gospel that Paul was preaching. Consequently, a fist full of destructive problems exploded in the church and threatened to ruin it and the Gospel witness to the city. In the letter body of First Corinthians Paul confronts these probloems head on with both compassion and uncompromizing bluntness. Relations with the church became severely strained but Paul stood his ground for the authentic Gospel over against a watered down twisted version based more on contemporary culture rather than divine revelaton. Modern Christianity has much to learn from the apostle Paul! The 85 page overview of these chapters in volume 37 of the BIC commentary provides new insight into the issues at Corinth and how they relate to the modern world.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Lorin's Musings: BIC Update 3

Update 3 on BIC commentary page at Although some finishing revisions on hyperlinks etc. still remain, at long last I have been able to convert the Greek grammar LEARNING BIBLICAL KOINE GREEK to a fully formatted Internet version. This was the grammar used in teaching the first two years of biblical Greek at Gardner-Webb University. Now it is available free of charge and in a revised format as volume 35 of the BIC commentary series. The updating of the remaining hyperlinks inside the PDF and HTML files will take place over the coming weeks. Additionally, the PPP files are being converted over to use the Unicode Greek font system that saves having to download and install a special set of Greek fonts

One additional new addition is the embedding of a set of SHARE buttons on both the home page and also the BIC home page. This will facilitate easy sharing of these web URLs with others via a variety of options. Figuring out the programing of this was indeed a 'fun time' for me. But it did help me dust off a lot of the cob webs on my writing of html code.

BIC Update 2

Progress continues on the revision of the BIC commentary page at Now the section on the Gospels, Acts, and the letters of Paul have been completely updated. The current format is more flexible and should boot up okay in smart devices with smaller screens. Both Bible studies / sermons and scripture study supplementary tools are included now.

The next challenge is completing the other pages inside the commentary. This revision will continue over the next few weeks and should be completed by the end of June (2015).

Saturday, May 23, 2015

BIC update

Updating work on continues on the commentary series at The sections on the LIFE AND MINISTRY OF CHRIST, the four gospels, and ACTS are now updated to contain hyperlinks on all related materials presently posted at The format of these pages has evolved hopefully into an easier to follow structure.

Suggestions for format improvement are gladly welcomed at

The goal is to complete the updating of the BIC page over the coming weeks. Then intensive research and writing on the Paul project will pick back up and be completed by the end of the summer.The background commentary is approaching 1,000 pages with about 300 left before its completion.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Finding decent commentaries

My actual retirement years (2010-present) have provided me with a lot more time to do research and writing of commentary materials on the New Testament. With a Logos digital library now approaching 19,000 volumes, the depth of secondary resources is gradually reaching a level where serious analysis of these resources becomes adequate.

But here is where the frustration sets in big time. When working through a scripture text, typically I have between 50 and 100 commentaries available to me on a text that reflect the full range of viewpoints in English, German, French, and Spanish. But repeatedly, I find the vast majority of them to be of little legitimate use. Commentary writers, even though having a scholarly reputation, are often just dumb! They often are ignorant of the fine points of ancient Koine Greek, and especially in comparison to the classical Attic Greek background. Add knowledge of Latin, Hebrew and Aramaic, except that the majority don't seem to know how to do that. Generally the European writers are better at their language skills.

Especially frustrating is the woeful ignorance of a first century Latin, Greek, Hebrew, or Aramaic mindset! The world of Paul did not think like moderns. It didn't often think like the limited Aramaic/Hebrew world of Jesus in Palestine. I can't imagine a legitimate understanding of the NT without a thorough grasping of these very different first century mindsets. And the Latin mindset of the Romans needs to be included in this mixture. Language is a key to a culturally conditioned thought world, but thorough knowledge of the language is absolutely essential to penetrating into that ancient thought world. It cannot be done based on translations. One is delusional to think that he can do it without the language skills.

And what really ticks me off is the abysmal ignorance of literary writing strategies in these first century thought worlds. Skill here requires thorough mastery of not just how the writers of the first century put their ideas together, but an equal mastery of modern literary strategies in the languages of the modern western world. Interpretation is the building of connective bridges between these two worlds. You have to know both to build real bridges!

Closely linked to this ignorance is the deeply inadequate knowledge of the social history of the first century. I'm not talking about formal history, although especially among more conservative commentators I often run into a fantasy reconstruction of even the formal history of the first century. Or, else ignorance of how to properly use history in biblical interpretation. The most common blunder is the making of broad generalized statements completely overlooking the huge diversity  of thinking across the Mediterranean world of the first century. Most conservatives would be highly offended at the idea that the religious thinking of the American KKK typifies all conservative religious thought. But these kinds of statements often surface in commentaries about the first century world.

But the ignorance of social history is more appalling. By that, I mean the history of social interactions between groups, individuals, and groups to individuals etc. The pages of the NT are literary soaked with such social history reflecting Greco-Roman and Jewish values and customs. And the diversity among just ancient Jews is enormous as well, e.g., Hellenistic Jews over against Hebraistic Jews.

In spite of these frustrations, a few bright lights are present among the maze of commentary writers. And a goodly number of them are evangelical, although mostly British rather than American. Writers like Aune, Theisen etc. have paid the price linguistically, literary wise, and historically to be able to plow deeply into the text for the richer meanings that it contains. The one consistent problem is that these tend to come up short when attempting to interpret that meaning over into a contemporary world.  Modern agendas -- denominational, theological etc.-- all too often get in their way.

In teaching the PhD seminar on Critical Methodology at SWBTS years ago, the one theme that I sought to instill into the thinking of these students was to think holistically. No interpretive method is adequate if it becomes lopsided in over emphasizing one angle of the text to the neglect of the other. And all angles must be considered in legitimate interpretation.

To the young, aspiring theologs out there, my appeal is passionate: Pay the price to learn all these different, often difficult skills. And just as importantly, learn how to bundle them together in a holistic approach to the text. You can't imagine how much is actually present in the sacred scripture text for those willing to pay the price. And the folks in the pew are drying up spiritually from sermons with little true scriptural foundation under them.

Here is one critically important way to reverse the decline in American Christianity. A true "Back to the Bible" emphasis where studying it seriously becomes exciting and life changing.   

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Getting Old

Getting old proves to really be challenging at times. This is happening to me more and more at 73+ years of age.

The primary challenge for someone who has been very active all of my life is the increasing limitations on what I can do. But reality cannot be brushed away as though it doesn't exist. One's body won't let the mind get away with such delusion.

For me, this spring has posed two of the bigger obstacles. Declining health has forced me to give up teaching a SS class at our church here in Costa Rica. I've been privileged to lead this class of adults almost the entire time that we've been here since Sept. 2010. I though at first that letting go of this responsibility would give me time and energy to then devote to the weekly Bible study group that meets at our home each Wednesday. But this has proven to be wrong thinking. Consequently the final meeting of this group at our home will be this coming Wednesday morning, May 20. Thus for the first time in my entire adult life I will not be teaching or preaching to a group of people on a regular basis since the middle 1960s.

Humanly speaking these pose huge threats to me. But in praying my way through all of this, the Lord has granted a wonderful sense of peace about everything. I know out of my family heritage from both my father and grandfather that I must have something constructive and productive to do if my earthly life is to continue on.

For several decades, my prayer has been that God would enable me to enjoy an active and productive retirement with serving Him through serving others at the center. Thus far He has seen fit to answer that prayer in the affirmative in so many ways that I could never have anticipated.

What seems now to be the continuation of that answer to prayer is found in my web site, What was begun in 1998 as a learning aid for my students at Gardner-Webb University has evolved into a global ministry for providing Bible study materials free of cost. Over the past several weeks some 250 people average coming into seeking such materials each week. There are so many projects not yet completed that enough work remains to keep me busy for quite some time to come. Increasingly the health limitations push me to focus more and more attention on research and writing Bible studies for the Biblical Insights Commentary series at

As Claire and I begin completing the plans to move to the Texas Baptist Retirement Center in San Angelo, Texas at the end of the year, my spare time will be devoted to cranfordville. For this I give God profound thanksgiving!