August 11, 2020

Speaking with God's Voice

I will praise the Name of God with a song; I will magnify him with thanksgiving. 
This will please the Lord more than an ox or a bull with horns and hoofs.
Let the oppressed see it and be glad; you who seek God, let your hearts revive.
For the Lord hears the needy, and does not despise his own that are in bonds.
♒︎ Ps 69:30-33
It's very common among those who claim to take the Bible literally to believe that the Bible speaks with one voice. But the best argument against such literalism is that same Bible, for there are times when it debates itself. In some places in the Bible (e.g. Ezra 10), outsiders are thought of as an impurity, and blessing is promised to Israel if foreign spouses and children are sent away. In others (e.g. Isaiah 56), foreigners are specifically included among God's people. Another example of a debate being carried out within the pages of the Bible is adherence to God's law. I'm not talking about a debate going on between the Hebrew and Christian scriptures, but within the Hebrew scriptures themselves. In the Pentateuch (the first five books), ritual

August 10, 2020

Be Not Afraid

You shall cross the barrenn desert but you shall not die of thirs. You shall wander far in safety though you do not know the way.
I hereby command you: Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. —Joshua 1:9 

This particular performance of this particular song is the very definition of what it means to be people of faith: Love of God and neighbor, trust despite danger, and unity despite forced separation—these are just a few of the concepts that Christians universally understand. It's definitely worth a listen (and look)...

If I Strive

But I am lowly and in pain; let your salvation, O God, protect me.
Ps 69:19-29

When commenting on this little verse, Calvin reminds me that David "assures himself that the very thing which others considered as a ground for despair, would prove to him the cause of his salvation."

I like this. We are taught that meekness is bad—that we must put ourselves forward in order to succeed. Our culture does not teach us that patience and kindness and humility might do our spirit good. And yet the message of the scriptures we claim to believe in is quite different. It is not the proud that God takes note of, but the humble. After all, the proud need no salvation: they think they can save themselves. Those who are in pain and who know they're unable to save themselves—those who go unnoticed by the world—they are God's little ones, those whom God protects, the ones to whom Christ came, with whom

August 9, 2020

August 9 Worship

In the seventh installment of my study on Romans, I look at how Christ's story becomes our story, then I invite Phoebe and Joey to help me explain the human condition. Here's the order:

Some Little Death of Hope

Do not let the flood sweep over me, or the deep swallow me up, or the pit close its mouth over me.
Answer me, O Lord, for your steadfast love is good; according to your abundant mercy, turn to me.
Ps 69:15-16
Sometimes the psalmist describes a situation which is beyond my ken. Here we have David saying that he's being threatened with annihilation—and since David fought verifiable wars against flesh-and-blood enemies, I have to believe the threat is real. I suppose I can only relate to Psalm 69 in a figurative sense.

But as shallow as my comparison may seem, the fact that any of us can relate to it all is important. For in this era of constant communication and easy contact, I encounter people every day who feel like they're on the verge