Monthly Archives: September 2022

Resurrecting my Blog

I am sitting at my desk in my study, surrounded by various objects assembled with the hope that they will make my time spent here more enjoyable and productive.  My goal is to spend some time each day writing.  Within the past month, I completed work on a new edition, the fourth edition, of a book on the history of twentieth-century Europe.  It was a joint effort by myself and Michael D. Richards, who, like myself, is a retired history professor. 

            I enjoy writing, but there is a difference between writing for pleasure and writing as work.  Writing a history book is laborious.  There is an outline to follow, deadlines to meet, editors to please, fact-checking facts, drafts and rewrites of drafts, and much more.  I have always wanted to write about whatever interests me at that moment.  It might be something in the news, something someone said, something I happened to read or hear, or my thoughts inspired by the beauty of a sunrise or a sunset. 

            The internet offers all sorts of opportunities to put one’s thoughts into words and release them in cyberspace on the chance that someone somewhere might choose to read them.  In August 2010, I started a blog.  It seemed like everyone had a blog, so why not I?  There wasn’t any particular theme.  I did not limit the blog to a specific topic such as philosophy, politics, food, or whatever.  I entitled it “My thoughts and opinions on a variety of subjects, mostly history.”  I chose history because that was my profession.  I was a history professor and remained one until retirement in the spring of 2016. 

            The blog was not my first effort at writing for publication.  Since my time in graduate school during the 1970s, I have written and published numerous book reviews and articles of one sort or another for journals and reference books.  By 2010, I even had five books to my credit.  My first venture into writing for publication was during my high school and college years.  I occasionally wrote editorial-style letters to newspaper editors, sometimes using a pen name.  Yes, some of my comments might have gotten me pilloried.  I have a couple of “memory boxes” in which I keep newspaper clippings and other mementos from my past lives. 

            Recently, I took up the challenge of writing a memoir or autobiography.  My better half has repeatedly encouraged me to do so for our daughters.  Also, I was involved in certain events and met people who might interest local history buffs.  And, who knows, maybe others from my past might choose to reflect on the time when our paths crossed. 

            Like everyone, I am not the same person today I was at various periods of my life.  I have learned a lot about the meaning of life through past experiences.  There was more than one fork in my life’s path at which I had to choose which direction to take.  My choice was not always what presented itself as the best choice, but I always decided to take the path I was convinced was the right one.

            I am learning how to use the Worpress, something I did not do in the past.  And so, as I begin to bring my blog back to life, I plan to include “my thoughts and opinions on a variety of subjects.” I will have a home page and different “pages” to organize my various blogs, for example, fiction, history, opinion, book reviews, memoirs/autobiography, musings on the meaning of life, etc. 

            So, consider this the launch of my “new” blog, and if you think you might be interested, please sign up to receive email notices when I publish.  Just use the “Email Subscription” form in the upper right-hand corner.  And until next time, be good to all God’s creation and always live under the mercy. 

Work: Curse or Blessing?

In the mid-1980s, my wife and I attended a Sunday School class at an Evangelical Free Church in Deerfield, Illinois.  The class was team-taught by two Bible professors from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Dr. John H. Sailhamer and Dr. Gleason Archer, Jr.  To learn about the Bible from two such scholars was a great honor. 

I remember well a discussion one Sunday in which the two distinguished Old Testament scholars debated whether the Hebrew word in Genesis 2:15 translated into English as “work” should be translated as “worship?”  Dr. Archer was of the opinion that the Hebrew word should be translated as “worship.”  He blamed the mistranslation of the Hebrew word as “work” on those who produced the King James translation of the Bible.  Dr. Sailhamer favored “work.”  The difference of opinion, as I recall, seemed to have something to do with a little mark—a jot or tittle as they say—above one of the letters of the Hebrew word that determines the correct translation.

That said, now to the subject of this review, Grace at Work: Redeeming the Grind & the Glory of You Job by Bryan Chapell (Crossway, 2022).  Bryan Chapell is a former pastor, seminary professor, and seminary president.  Grace at Work is a biblical, and therefore Christian, look at how we who identify as followers of Jesus Christ should view our labor, job, work, vocation, or “daily grind.”  Many of us, indeed myself, have often felt that work is a byproduct of the curse mentioned in Genesis 3:17.  That is not true.  Ecclesiastes 5:18-20 says that for one to enjoy one’s work is a blessing from God. Bryan Chapell challenges the reader to consider work as a part of who we are as Christians: “Is what we are doing truly honoring God?”  Every aspect of our life, everything we are and do, should reflect our relationship with our Lord, Jesus Christ.  Work, for example, results in financial reward.  But our material possessions, including our finances, are not “private property,” as seen from a worldly perspective.  We exercise stewardship over our possessions, including our very life.  Using or misusing our possessions will reflect our relationship with Jesus Christ.  The central theme in Grace at Work is that God gives purpose to our work, and through our work, many opportunities to show the world what it means to be one saved by Grace through faith in Jesus Christ.

Grace at Work is well-written, easy to read, and easy to understand.  It includes “Notes,” which guide further reading if desired.  There is also a “General Index” and a “Scripture Index.”

We Christians live lives in total obedience.  We struggle with what the apostle Paul called “the old nature.”  Still, we are given daily opportunities to be an example to the world of what it means to be a clay vessel in God’s hands.