Teaching Tip from Paul (per Richard Hays)

In his commentary on 1 Corinthians in the Interpretation series, Richard Hays points out Paul’s strategy in addressing the concerns of the Corinthian church in 1 Cor.

His summary and takeaway is insightful for those who teach, preach, or evangelize:

…it is striking that Paul takes up the Corinthians’ concerns [in 7:1-15:58] only after writing the lengthy discussion of chapters 1-6, in which he calls for unity, reasserts his authority, forcefully scolds the community, and calls them to new standards of holiness and community discipline. Plainly, he is not content to allow the Corinthians’ concerns to set the agenda. He addresses their questions only after carefully rebuilding the foundation upon which he believes answers must be based. This strategy allows him, as we shall see, to reframe the issues; he calls repeatedly for the Corinthian community to be re-socialized into a pattern shaped by the gospel of the cross and illuminated by the eschatological setting of the church between cross and the final day of the Lord. Teachers and preachers may find Paul’s example instructive: It is not necessarily wise to begin “where the people are.” The teacher who does so may find it impossible to move the students to any other place. Of course, the students’ questions must be engaged–as Paul’s example shows–but that engagement will be most fruitful if the groundwork of the gospel has first been laid out clearly.

Richard Hays, 1 Corinthians, Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Preaching and Teaching (Louisville: John Knox Press 1997), 111.

New Phase: Campus Ministry at the University of Houston

The Boyds have entered a new phase of life: that of doing campus ministry in Houston, Texas.

Last year, I accepted the invitation from the Church of Christ Student Foundation to be the campus minister for The Point, a.k.a. “Coogs for Christ” at the University of Houston.

There are many exciting, missional reasons I accepted this opportunity.  I hope to unpack some of them in separate, future blog posts. The work seems to be going well so far, and the missionary field of the campus is almost always ripe.

More on all of it soon.

Photos from Europe – first edits

We recently visited Europe for two weeks: one week in Paris, and one week split between Florence and Rome.  Here are 90+ photographs that captured a lot of what we experienced throughout our travels. More photos and reflections to come, perhaps. Enjoy!


Arch of Titus! Click the picture to pass through the arch and view the whole album.

Pera Pera’s Top 10 Books for Learning Chinese

大家好!The good folks over at Pera Pera listed their top ten favorite books for learning Chinese. I haven’t used any of the ten personally, but I certainly have used and benefited greatly from Pera Pera’s free Firefox add-on (a sweet, Chinese-English-Pinyin pop-up dictionary). Based solely on that positive experience alone, I am willing to bet their suggestions are helpful. (I plan to write soon about how I use the Pera Pera dictionary in my sermon-prep workflow.) For now, check out Pera Pera’s recommended reading for learning Chinese:

Modern Mandarin Chinese Grammar: A Practical Guide

If you buy only one book for Chinese, get this one. Easily the best book I have found for everything. It is split into two parts, Part A for the structure of Chinese and explaining all the grammatical features, and Part B for situational Chinese like how to describe things etc. Explanations are solid, provides tons of example sentences and everything is in Simplified and Traditional characters.

Practical Audio-visual Chinese (Traditional)

My friend in Taiwan swears by this series and he used this at his language school when he studied in Taiwan. He was on book 3 and was at a very impressive level of Chinese. Comes with CDs and has workbooks if you want them. Only Traditional characters and starts with teaching you Zhuyin, but also has all the sentences in Pinyin as well. I am on book 3 now also and have to say it is my favorite course book.

Colloquial Chinese: The Complete Course for Beginners

This was actually the first book I used for Chinese that a friend recommended when I was starting out. A solid beginner course that is lesson based and comes with CDs. Spent a good bit of time with the pronunciation using this one. Another good option if you are looking for a starter course. Also has an intermediate book as well in the series. New Practical Chinese Reader: Textbook 1

If you want more of a course-type book this series is a good introduction. I did the first book in their series using Simplified Characters. Concise and nicely organized. Would recommend it as your first introduction to Chinese and Chinese characters. Especially good if you like the dialog lesson format. Comes with CDs.

Conversational Chinese 301

Bought this one when I was in China. It goes at a faster pace than the above course, but would still say it is good for beginners. Either one of these are a good introduction course. No CD though, so take that into consideration. The Michel Thomas Method: Speak Mandarin Chinese For Beginners

For working on speaking this is probably the best starter course. Harold Goodman does a good job of introducing the tones with concept of colors as an aid for remembering them. I love the Michel Thomas method and have used this series for other languages as well (French, Russian and German!).

Pimsleur Chinese

Pimsleur courses tend to be a little slow for my tastes, but if you are looking to learn a language while exercising or driving this would be the one to get. If you are sitting down and can focus, Michel Method is better and will get you to think more about what you are saying, while Pimsleur kind of hypnotizes you into memorizing, and that’s better than nothing when you cant devote all of you attention.

Remembering Simplified Hanzi: Book 1, How Not to Forget the Meaning and Writing of Chinese Characters

I don’t actually own this book but I’m a big fan of the method and used it to learn all the Kanji in Japanese with the original “Remembering the Kanji” book by the same author (see my Japanese book reviews). Comes in Simplified or Traditional versions.

Tuttle Learning Chinese Characters

Since I did Japanese before Chinese, I had already done my time learning 2000 characters, so I don’t actually own this one either. My friends at a language school love it though, and the method sounds very similar to the “Remembering the Hanzi” mnemonic system. So I would just pick either one and stick with it.

Chinese Demystified: A Self-Teaching Guide

A good overview of the Chinese language. I personally would buy the Modern Chinese Grammar over this one if I could only choose one, but that one can be intimidating since it is rather thick and does read a bit like a textbook with alot of explanations using grammatical terms. If that puts you off and you want a gentler overview of Chinese, but still with solid content, I would recommend this one.

By Francis Campbell. Originally Posted at http://www.perapera.org/best-10-books-for-learning-chinese/

By MARK SHECHTMAN [Attribution], via Wikimedia Commons

My Shifting Values of Higher Education and Dream-Job-Chasing

I recently became a fan of Marty Nemko, and it was the video at the bottom of this page that did it. There is a man who has consumed a lot of higher education and also worked for and in such institutions (both teaching and evaluating, at Berkley), yet he says higher degrees are often unnecessary and indeed a bad choice for many individuals.

This is no new idea; really, it’s very folksy wisdom in some ways.  America is obsessed with chasing dreams (a great thing), and we’re all about “finding one’s passion in life.” There a plenty of business podcasts and tweets telling us to quit our jobs and start our dream coffee shop. To an older generation, though, perhaps this sounds ridiculous.

After all, how many accountants ever had a burning desire to do accounting?

I’m not saying people should keep a job they’re miserable with, but I do say:

Finding a job you’re passionate about might not be as important as finding a way to be passionate about your work.

Some say it’s not what you do that matters but how you do it. Perhaps that oversimplifyies things a bit, but you get the point. A recent podcast from The Art of Manliness (Brett McKay) interviewed Cal Newport. Cal and Brett mentioned the research he found for Cal’s book, So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love. I listened during breakfast and thoroughly enjoyed it. You can find it here.

Here’s why I care:

I was in college for two or three years (it’s hard to keep count, considering how long I was there), and I had no major. After finally choosing Global Studies, I decided I wanted something more–practical. I wanted to teach, so I changed my major to English, with a minor in Secondary Ed and kept Global Studies as a second minor. By the way, this was after the two photography classes I took that went towards no part of my degree. I then proceeded to accept a scholarship to study Chinese for a year in Hangzhou, which counted nothing toward my degree but was an awesome experience that changed my life. I married my wife there; in fact, she’s one of the main reasons I applied. 🙂

I now study at Harding School of Theology for a Masters of Divinity and love every class. Nonetheless, I’m 26 years old and married, so I spend much time thinking about work and school. For me, I have to balance the two, and the ratio is always an area I debate in my head: should I work more? Should I study more and finish sooner?  Do I need this big degree or should I go for a shorter M.A.? I can only answer for myself and not for you.

That being said, here’s my two cents:

One shouldn’t go to college just because it’s the next “logical” step for a high school student with good or decent grades. If one does go, unsure of what to study, I recommend choosing a narrow degree in business (if engineering or another topic isn’t clearly calling to you), and sticking with it: Get in, get out. Then, if you realize you want to do something else, pursue a master’s in that field.

If you really are passionate about something that doesn’t make lots of money, pursue it. But ask yourself if you need a degree to start doing that kind of work. If you want to be a writer, I’d suggest you just start writing and save your work. Build a portfolio and present yourself in front of the person you want to work for.

If you decide to go to college, though, spend some serious time studying careers before you start. Don’t lolly-gag. Look at the United States Department of Labor’s free Occupational Outlook Handbook online, and you can find estimates on specific careers (that you’ve never even considered, perhaps!): projected growth rates/demand, salaries,  required training, et cetera. An entire branch of government is dedicated to this research. Take advantage of it.

Watch Marty Nemko’s video. I like his observation that community colleges might be a great value! That’s great news for folks in McMinnville, Tennessee and just about anywhere. Watch the video to hear his thoughts based on experience and researching and working in that field. His job, after all, is to assess these things. Give him a listen and see what you think. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.

This has little to do with intelligence and much more to do with pragmatism. Of course continuing learning is good for everyone, but bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees are not the only route to a smart, successful, and happy lives. Experience, seminars, internships, apprenticeships, certificate programs, trade schools, and community colleges are valuable options for continuing education.

What Colleges and Graduate Students Don’t Want You to Know:


Additional Resources: http://www.artofmanliness.com/2014/03/24/is-college-for-everyone-part-ii-the-pros-and-cons-of-attending-a-4-year-college/

Structure of the Acts of the Apostles

The structure of Acts, most scholars agree, is grounded in Jesus’ promise and command in Acts 1:8: “…you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Luke incorporates this as a programmatic statement for the second volume of his series. The overall structure of Acts remains perplexing, though, even with common ground of 1:8. To further analyze Acts’ structure, one should consider several major factors for starters: (1) the meaning of “εως εσχατου της γης” in Acts 1:8, (2) the Isaianic influence on Lucan writings, (3) the narrative flow of Luke-Acts, (4) the successful mission to the Jews first as fulfillment of scripture, and (5) the role of Samaria in the program.

To continue reading, click this link: Boyd – Structure of Acts


Chinese New Year Expressions: 新年快乐

Line Dictionary’s List of Chinese New Year Sayings : 新年快乐.

I found this during my study this morning (for a sermon in Chinese, Sunday), and I thought some of you other Chinese students might benefit from it as well.

Example (but Line’s site has audio):


Zhù jiérì kuàilè, xīnnián xìngfú.

Wishing you happiness during the holidays and throughout the New Year.

Happy New Year!

The Auld Triangle

The Auld Triangle,” is an beautiful Irish song about a man in prison. The old triangle, made of metal, rang every morning to wake the inmates. The song was written for a play about a prisoner in Mountjoy prison and occurred in the play just moments before the prisoner’s impending execution.

Here, some of Ireland’s best singer-songwriters sing together with a great crowd in the Royal Albert Hall, London. Enjoy (or as they might say, “cheers.”)


Two Quotes from Jerome

On the benefit of obeying Jesus’ words to the rich young man in Matthew 19:

“It is an act of apostolic perfection and of perfect virtue to sell all one has and to give to the poor—thus becoming weightless and unimpeded and flying up with Christ toward heavenly delights.”-Jerome, in Bonaventure, Defense of the Mecidants, ch.7.

And on preaching what we ourselves have not done:

“I exalt virginity to heaven, not because it is mine, but because I more greatly admire what I do not have. Preaching to others a quality lacking in oneself, this indeed amounts to a frank and embarrassing confession. But if I am held down to earth by the weight of my body, is this reason enough not to admire the flight of birds?” (Jerome in letter to Pammachius, qtd in Bonaventure ch.7, p.141)

Source: Bonaventure, Defense of the Mendicants, in The Works of Bonaventure,
trans. José de Vinck, v. 4: Defense of the Mendicants.