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Six Ways to Praise God (Psalm 105)

Psalm 105 describes 6 ways to praiseGod:  Thank him (vs 1)“Call on his name” declare who God is to GodDeclare his works to everyone (vs 1b, 2b)Sing to GodSeek himRemember him (The six ways are based on general concepts that appear to be the same, not on verbal form). While all six of these elements are important, Psalm 105 is principally concerned about the sixth way - remembering what God has done. It is on the basis of remembering that the other five acts of worship are done. First, the Psalm remembers the covenant God made with Abraham that he then reaffirmed with Isaac (his son) and Jacob (Isaac’s son, Abraham’s grandson) (Ps 105:7-11). Then it proceeds to consider the wanderings of Abraham, Issac, Jacob and their families as they sought the promises of God’s covenant (Ps 105:12-15). Then the life of Joseph is summarized, being presented as an act of God’s faithfulness to prepare Jacob’s sons (future Israel) for the famine (Ps 105:16-22) (see Gen 37, 39-47). Next, the psalmist turns …

Citizens of....

Citizenship in Rome and in Heaven "Only let your manner of life be worthy [act as citizens] of the Gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in on spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the Gospel"- Phillipians 1:27 ESV These words were from a man sitting in a prison cell (maybe house arrest) for crimes he didn't commit. His name was the Apostle Paul. Paul was writing a personal letter to all the Christians in the city of Philippi, giving them many practical encouragements as he waited for a trial before the Emperor of Rome (or his bureaucratic support).
As a citizen of the Roman Empire, Paul had many special legal privileges, among them the ability to request a trial in front of the Office of Caesar (Acts 25:11). In the Roman Empire, citizenship was a special privilege- among the peoples of Rome there were citizens, slaves and others. Millions of people did not have full legal c…

Central States Society of Biblical Literature 2020

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to attend the Central States Society of Biblical Literature meeting (again). This was my 2nd year volunteering/observing at the meeting and was able to get some exposure to the world of biblical scholarship (especially to Old Testament)- a field in which I plan to pursue as a vocation, God leading.
SBL involves professors, graduate students and postdoctoral researchers to present early versions of their research papers on various topics of biblical studies with papers ranging from discussions of beheadings and homosexuality around the area of Sodom, to Jesus being a "living constitution" in the Book of Philippians. For both years I've attended, it has been hosted at the beautiful (though quite progressive) Eden Theological Seminary- a seminary of the United Church of Christ in a St. Louis suburb.

Being inexperienced in the field of biblical scholarship, I heard many new (and some familiar concepts)- some of which may not be the gr…

Word for Word: Episode 56

Our Home: The Earth
וַיֹּ֣אמֶר אֱלֹהִ֗ים יִקָּו֨וּ הַמַּ֜יִם מִתַּ֤חַת הַשָּׁמַ֙יִם֙ אֶל־ מָקֹ֣ום אֶחָ֔ד וְתֵרָאֶ֖ה הַיַּבָּשָׁ֑ה וַֽיְהִי־ כֵֽן׃ וַיִּקְרָ֨א אֱלֹהִ֤ים לַיַּבָּשָׁה֙ אֶ֔רֶץ וּלְמִקְוֵ֥ה הַמַּ֖יִם קָרָ֣א יַמִּ֑ים וַיַּ֥רְא אֱלֹהִ֖ים כִּי־ טֹֽוב׃
And God said to the water under the sky, "Get together into one place, so that which is dry can be seen". And so, it happened. God called the dry stuff "land" and the gathered waters he called "seas". And God saw that it was good.  -- Genesis 1:9-10 (dynamic equivalent translation).
The narrative of the creation of the world we know is a bit simplistic to us in that God just seems to tell inanimate matter to act on its own accord. The translation "let [this happen]" to give room for natural laws to just go into affect and form stuff on its own. In the case of water and bedrock, this is quite literally what happens when a liquid flows into a solid basin, "seeki…

Word for Word: Episode 55

A place called "Heaven" וַיֹּ֣אמֶר אֱלֹהִ֔ים יְהִ֥י רָקִ֖יעַ בְּתֹ֣וךְ הַמָּ֑יִם וִיהִ֣י מַבְדִּ֔יל בֵּ֥ין מַ֖יִם לָמָֽיִם׃
וַיַּ֣עַשׂ אֱלֹהִים֮ אֶת־הָרָקִיעַ֒ וַיַּבְדֵּ֗ל בֵּ֤ין הַמַּ֨יִם֙ אֲשֶׁר֙ מִתַּ֣חַת לָרָקִ֔יעַ וּבֵ֣ין הַמַּ֔יִם אֲשֶׁ֖ר מֵעַ֣ל לָרָקִ֑יעַ וַֽיְהִי־כֵֽן׃
 וַיִּקְרָ֧א אֱלֹהִ֛ים לָֽרָקִ֖יעַ שָׁמָ֑יִם
And God said "Let a space be in between the waters to separate them." Then God formed a space between the lower waters and the upper waters. That's how it happened. So, God called space "Heaven". -- Genesis 1:6-8a (author's translation) Translators are sometimes forced to choose between interpretations in the use of the Hebrew word "Shamayim". I have followed the Hebrew in uses the most general term to reflect a basic understanding of the act of creation of this space. In order for an artist or an artisan to work, he must have plenty of space. Though the whole universe, as information, might fit neatly in a finite box i…

Sin Personified: Cain's Sin in Genesis 4:6-7

The story of “Cain and Abel” is one of the most famous stories in the whole Bible. Abel gave the first of his flocks in his sacrifice to God, while Cain did not give the first-fruits of his crop- he gave the leftovers. When God rejected Cain’s sacrifice, he becomes angry. Here, God uses one of the most interesting descriptions of sin in the Bible- sin is personified as “crouching at the door”.

 “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is [for] you, but you must rule over it.” Genesis 4:6-7
 But what does this really mean? Let’s take a look at what this means, what it doesn’t mean (you may be surprised) and how this applies to life today.
 Cain’s Sunken Face  “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen?” Gen 4:6 
 Verse 5(b) of Genesis 4 describes how Cain’s “had fallen”,
"For Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell”…

Its Not About Christmas or Easter (or Sunday)

Its not about Christmas, or Easter or for that matter Sunday. What do I mean? I don’t mean- “Don’t celebrate holidays”. Absolutely we should celebrate the Sabbath,  Christmas and Easter. Heartless religion does not please God. So often our celebration of these days like Christmas and Easter and even our weekly Sunday gathering at church is religious, but has no true heart for God. People have been falling into this trip since the beginning of time. We see this in the Book of Malachi,
“When you offer blind animals in sacrifice, is that not evil? And when you offer those that are lame or sick, is that not evil? Present that to your governor; will he accept you or show you favor? Oh that there were one among you who would shut the doors, that you might not kindle fire on my altar in vain! I have no pleasure in you, says the Lord of hosts, and I will not accept an offering from your hand.” Malachi 1:8, 10 ESV In this Bible passage, the Jewish exiles had been sacrificing and worshipi…