Archives For Scripture

There is no doubt in my mind that this post is going to offend some of you and if it does then I am truly sorry.  Do what you normally do when you disagree with something I (or someone else) say…ignore it. 

I am concerned that we (Christianity/the Church) have fostered what Kenda Creasy Dean so eloquently defines as a “do-good, feel-good spirituality that has little to do with the Triune God of Christian tradition and even less to do with loving Jesus enough to follow him into the world” (Almost Christian, p. 4).  There is a lot to unpack and there is not “one-thing” that is causative for this pop-psychology “blue-skies-and-rainbows” type spirituality.  Dean points to many factors but something that is foundational is our theology (or lack thereof) that shapes a pat-you-on-the-back approach to Christianity.  Please do not misunderstand me as I am all about words of affirmation and encouragement as people who are in deep moments of despair need words immersed in grace and hope.  That is not what I am talking about.  I am speaking of the sermons, classes, youth talks, books and conversations all that funnel our spiritual formation into one idea: what makes me feel good for the day.  Part of that funnel process is how we approach Scripture. 

Reading on Facebook and looking at all of the daily devotional material it is doubtless that you have not come across the verse-of-the-day approach to spirituality.  Verse-of-the-day approaches to spiritual formation seem to limit what God had in mind with Scripture.  I receive verses of the day through Twitter (4 different groups), Facebook (3 different groups, numerous people) and e-mail.  I tend not to read the verses of the fday because most of them are the same.  They are designed to make you feel better about the day in a self-help, pick-you-up type of approach.  Notice you will see verses like Genesis 50:20; Isaiah 40:31; Proverbs 3:5-6; Isaiah 6:6-8; 1 Corinthians 10:13; Philippians 4:13; James 4:7, 10; 1 Peter 5:6-7; Romans 8:28; Jeremiah 29:11; and anything in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7).  Don’t get me wrong because those verses are all amazing and life-changing.  But all have a context located in Scripture but also a historical context.  You don’t get that on a Twitter feed or on a status update.  Two problems I see with this approach:

  1. This approach has the danger of taking verses out of context.  Jeremiah 29:11 is my classic example: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  Little do they realize that in context God is speaking to the people who will have to endure exile in Babylon for 70 years (29:10)!  Then they will propser!  That doesn’t sound so appealing on a coffee-cup does it? 
  2. This approach has the danger of neglecting other verses in Scripture.  I jokingly put on my facebook status these words: “Anti-coffee cup verse: ‘When a man or a woman has spots on the skin of the body, white spots, the priest shall look, and if the spots on the skin of the body are of a dull white, it is leukoderma that has broken out in the skin; he is clean’ (Lev. 13:38-39).”  I wanted to make the point that nobody puts that as a daily bible verse (rightfully so) but does it deserve any less attention?  Nobody “liked” that on my status nor did they comment on that.  Furthermore, the verses that we may need to be paying attention to are often the verses that do not pop-up in our verse-of-the-day websites (Luke 13:3 anyone?).    

The flip side of this discussion is that these things are not bad in-and-of-themselves.  If they aide you in a daily walk with God then it is a good thing.  But these things should never be ends to the goal of spiritual formation.  Reading the bible in 90 days (or a year) has the same danger as the verse-of-the-day approach.  We need to learn how to read Scripture and read it well.  We should not neglect the “tough” parts of the bible just because we can’t understand them.  There are books upon books that are written to teach you how to read the bible.  Matter-of-fact there is a book called, How to read the bible for all its worth.  Check it out sometime.  

I hope this blog post has challeneged you and if I offended you…I am sorry and ignore it.           


The plane was late leaving Las Vegas so people were overly-tired, easily-agitated but most-of-all ready to go home.  A little boy who was no more than 12-14 months old was playing peek-a-boo with me a couple of airport aisles in front of me.  After a while he was tired of playing and then shortly he started to scream as if all screams on earth suddenly fused into this little boy’s lungs.  It was loud.  I could feel the tension in the mother but mostly I could feel the tension around the room as people looked at this boy with eyes that said, “I hope he is not on our plane!”  Without missing a beat this girl that was beside us (and her family) proceeded to mouth what most everyone  was thinking: “I hope that boy is not on our plane!”  The boy kept screaming and the girl beside me said, “They need to give him some benadryl or something because I can’t handle that on this flight.”  Her brother who was sitting behind me said, “Give him a tranquilizer or something!”

They were serious…

I thought: “How selfish could these people be?  I guess they were perfect children growing up and never cried, complained or bothered anyone’s ‘peaceful’ flight.”  I got up and walked away because I was so agitated.  Reflecting upon this I thought how selfish we all are.  In our parenting we think we are the best parents in the world and nobody is better than us and when anyone offers us advice we dismiss it because..again…we know it all.  How selfish!  We help programs in church that only affect us and we do that because we see no redemptive value in helping someone if we are not getting anything out of it.  How selfish!  We like certain bible class teachers, certain preachers who make us feel good, we like certain songs, certain people who pray, certain Scriptures (conveniently avoiding certain ones as well) all because these things are about us.  How selfish!  We think as if God wrote Scripture to give us a self-help book to give us a verse-of-the-day to make us feel better about the day (you won’t see 2 Cor. 5:10 as a verse of the day) as if God wrote the Scriptures to make us feel better.  How selfish!  We don’t like certain ministers because they “clash” with our personalities and we start dissension behind his back so we can eventually find a minister that “fits our personality.”  How selfish!  We get upset when that “minister” says something about our personal spirituality that we disagree with and so we ignore him because, “He doesn’t know what he is talking about!”  How selfish!  We go on vacation after vacation complaining how the drive was so long, the food was ok, the room was less-than-par and the kids ruined our peaceful leisure not really cognizant of the fact that in many of the world’s countries people live on less than $2 a day (“But we give money to missions for people overseas so we are ok”).  How selfish!

Another selfish aspect of our lives is the sad reality that most of us walk our spiritual lives as if we are righteous because of us alone.  Listen to Moses when he encouraged the Israelites to remember everything they received had nothing to do with them.

“Take care lest you forget the LORD your God by not keeping his commandments and his rules and his statutes, which I command you today, lest, when you have eaten and are full and have built good houses and live in them, and when your herds and flocks multiply and your silver and gold is multiplied and all that you have is multiplied, then your heart be lifted up, and you forget the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, who led you through the great and terrifying wilderness, with its fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty ground where there was no water, who brought you water out of the flinty rock, who fed you in the wilderness with manna that your fathers did not know, that he might humble you and test you, to do you good in the end. Beware lest you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.’ You shall remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your fathers, as it is this day. And if you forget the LORD your God and go after other gods and serve them and worship them, I solemnly warn you today that you shall surely perish. Like the nations that the LORD makes to perish before you, so shall you perish, because you would not obey the voice of the LORD your God” (Deut. 8:11-20).

And as if they did not get the picture Moses says in the next chapter…

“Do not say in your heart, after the LORD your God has thrust them out before you, ‘It is because of my righteousness that the LORD has brought me in to possess this land,’ whereas it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the LORD is driving them out before you. Not because of your righteousness or the uprightness of your heart are you going in to possess their land, but because of the wickedness of these nations the LORD your God is driving them out from before you, and that he may confirm the word that the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob” (Deut. 9:4-5).

I have been thinking about this a lot lately and my heart has been heavy about this so I just want to say it:  The person that will send you to hell is YOU.  You read this right.  YOU!  I could have been nice and said that the person that will keep you from going to heaven is you but the reality is that the person who will send you to hell is you. That is not popular for me to say this and I realize that some of the things I mention are some of the things I have struggled with but I know that selfishness is the pre-flight manual for the trip to hell.  Don’t like what I am saying?  I don’t either but it’s the truth…no…it’s the GOSPEL!  If we are to imitate Christ (see 1 Cor. 11:1) then our act of obedience is to make the selfless act of following God and taking up our cross (a symbol of shame).  If God calls us to suffer…it is the gospel. If God calls us to a church with only 60 people…it is the gospel.  If God calls us to serve in a capacity we despise…it is the gospel.  I am tired of the church, its leaders (myself included) and its adherents opting for a more selfish gospel when the words of Christ and his followers were radical, selfless and life-changing principles with one goal in mind: “Thy kingdom come…thy will be done!”  IT’S NOT MY KINGDOM COME AND MY WILL BE DONE IT IS THY KINGDOM COME THY WILL BE DONE.  ALWAYS!!!


Quit being selfish and think of other people (Phil. 2:1-4).  Be gracious to God for everything He has given you (Rom. 8:32).  Confess those things you need to confess (1 John 1:5-9).  Resist the urge to fight discipline (Heb. 12:7-11).  Realize that your, my and our entire existence is to praise God.

Life does exist after 30

January 18, 2011 — 7 Comments

I have delayed writing this post much like I delay going to the dentist, doctor or even a car repair shop.  It is the self-discovery that I dread and the inevitable bad news that comes from a doctor’s office or a repair shop that I loathe.  Nevertheless I drudge on through because it is only through self-discovery where we truly find the living God who dwells in our past, present and future.  Last Friday I turned 30 and it was a wonderful experience that capped off a week of a softball party and a surprise birthday party.  I feel both loved and supported by so many individuals and I truly am a man most blessed by God.  I would like to share some lessons I have learned in my life in the first 30 years that will help you live your teens and twenties to its fullest potential.  I will try to avoid trite sayings that preachers use but I find that those sayings are regretabbly unavoidable…

  1. It’s not all about you. If there is one word that could characterize my first 30 years it would be the word, “narcissism.”  I know we all are a little selfish at times but it seems that I struggled with this more than most people.  In my teenage years  if there was a worldly pleasure easily accessible to me than I took advantage (without disclosing much just let me say, for the record, that I have not always been a moral person).  If I had to walk over someone to benefit my cause then I did it.  If someone neglected me, punished me or ridiculed me then they were ignored, ostracized or even punished for lambasting my integrity.  As I recall some dark periods of my past I can’t help but to think much of my pain was avoidable if I just realize that it was not about me.
  2. Life is a roller-coaster. Different seasons call for different experiences and the ever-changing ebb and flow of life brings about conflicting narratives that tug on a person’s soul.  Early in our marriage (December 29, 2003) Heather had a miscarriage and we were devastated at our loss.  Amelia (our second-born) was born with a whole in her lung, Kaleb had RSV as a child and recently my youngest broke his leg.  Mix that with financial troubles (some self-inflicted…see point #1) and economic hardships and life can be very hectic.  God created us to weather serious storms in our lives and it seems that while a current struggle may be significant we should always look at the trial with a lens of perspective.  Some people flip-out over the small things but lately I have learned to not worry as much and it has made me a better husband, father, son, friend and minister.
  3. Not much is happenstance. I look back at my life and believe in the providence of God.  I place my finger on significant events in my life and ask the million-dollar question, “Why did __________ happen like that?”  A friend of mine overdosed years after I moved and I ask, “Why was that not me?”  After dropping off a high-school girlfriend my car spun out of control in the rain in the direction of a 20 foot drop-off.  “Why did my car stop right before the edge?”  A girl in college just recently got out of a relationship and I did too and I asked her out.  “Why did Heather  say yes?”  Not much is happenstance…not much is chance…we are merely paint on the canvas of the divine painter.
  4. “God is not made by human hands…” Paul said that in Acts 17:24 to the men of Athens and I believe it strongly to this day.  I have shifted in theology since I first arrived at Freed-Hardeman in 1999.  I used to think I had everything figured out and that I could put God in this neatly packaged box and if someone needed me to explain who God is/was then I would open this box and show them who God was.  That worked until I realized that God was doing some amazing things that confronted (opposed) my preconceived notion of how God operated.  Scripture used to be information for me to dissect, translate and pattern for people to understand.  Now I still believe in good exegesis I think we can almost treat Scripture as an idol instead of its intended purpose as transformation (Psalm 1; Rom. 12:1-2).  God is not solely bound to leafs of paper but is living, active and powerful.  Scripture, at best, is an attempt by God to describe an infinite concept using finite terms.  That is why no perfect description of heaven exists…it cannot be contained by human vernacular but God paints the best picture he believes we can understand.
  5. Life is never over. Abraham got his call to ministry when he was 75 years old!  We never should get to the point where we think God is through with me I shall now die.  As a minister I see at Main Street God using people who are infants and who are 90 years old!!!  God uses us for his purposes in every season of our life no matter what age we are.  Sarah laughed because she thought she was too old, Jeremiah was afraid because he thought he was too young and God essentially told both of them that nothing is impossible with God.

So here I am, 30 years old and ready to do whatever God wants me to do wherever he sends me.  I am not wise, but I am wiser than I once was.  I am not experienced but I am a little more experienced than I once was.  Regardless…I am content.

I came across this verse today in my reading and thought that it was not happenstance.  A lot happened to Joseph that could have caused him to be bitter and angry but because of God’s providence Joseph did some amazing things.

“Joseph was thirty years old when he entered the service of Pharaoh king of Egypt…” (Gen 41:46a).

I am starting a new series on the bible class with this first post and an idea. But first this series is for you if you ever…

  • Had a teenager drooling in your class from boredom.
  • Received blank stairs because they did not “get” it.
  • Felt like you were a circus ring-leader rather than a bible class.
  • Had a teenager respond with “Jesus” no matter what the question was.
  • Sat in your office wondering how you were going to communicate dispensational premillenialism to teenagers on a Wednesday night.
  • on a serious note…if you ever were felt like you just did not want to teach anymore.
  • You would rather someone else teach your class.

We have all been there friends and nothing helps more than ideas that are tried and tested.  First things first…start praying.  Prayer will change everything and start doing more of that.

FIRST IDEA: Change the atmosphere.  Last night we had a bible study at Shoney’s and I felt like it was more of a positive atmosphere than if we simply stayed at a house or in a classroom.  I had a devotional in a graveyard one time and a teenager years later said that it was the best devotional ever.  Jesus rarely taught in one place at one time.  The Sermon on the Mount?  The lesson to his disciples in a boat (on water!!!)?  Even when he was on the cross he taught those who watched him.

My first recommendation to you is to change the atmosphere.

Proverbs 26:5 reads, “Answer a fool according to his folly or he will be wise in his own eyes.” I often heard this quoted by preachers, teachers and students who are apologetically inclined to defend the truth against the skeptics and naysayers of our society.  There is some merit to answering a fool to his folly as some people make arguments based on little to no research whatsoever.  It can be a daunting task defending the truth especially with the internet being at everyone’s fingertips.  People, under the auspices of anonymity, feel like they can say anything and everything they want to hiding behind their cute and clever “screen names” while dishing out their rhetorical banter like Krispe Kreme doughnuts.  People can spend hours and hours online at forums defending/attacking (depending on your posture) arguments for/against God, the Church, Jesus and Scripture.  There is no longer a need for debates as we remember reading about them (Warren/Flew debate is still an amazing read) rather the debates are right in front of our very eyes with the click of a mouse and a stroke of a key.  Sometimes it is appropriate to answer people and respond to their poor assessment of Christianity.  Jesus responded on more than one occasion to the Pharisees’ inaccurate assessment of who He was.  At one point in the narrative Jesus gives such a compelling argument that Matthew records this statement: “No one could say a word in reply, and from that day on no one dared to ask him any more questions” (22:46).  So there is a need in some instances to respond to the critics, to the skeptics and to those wishing to spread false statements about Jesus.  Perhaps maybe we need to respond more to our brethren than those on the outside (?)!

But… or rather resoundingly BUT….

Proverbs 26:4 reads, “Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you will be like him yourself.” It’s funny that this verse


comes before the previous one because I have rarely heard this quoted (wonder why?) but it makes perfect sense.  You can only say so much and spend so much time with someone and at the end of the day it’s better to smile and walk away than to say keep fighting.  Jesus is not going to cast you to outer darkness because you did not win an argument (whatever we mean by “win” anyways).  Some people are just looking for an argument (even some people in the church) and they can’t seem to operate unless they are dissecting every statement you make and claim you purport.  In the context of Jesus speaking to disciples about pseudo-Christs and to not listen to them Jesus offers this proverbial statement: “Wherever there is a carcass, there the vultures will gather” (Matt. 24:28).  In context Jesus means that the disciples are to avoid people who believe that they are Christ and to avoid those who gather with them but I would suggest that we avoid all types of argumentation that lead us to the vultures.  Simple farm wisdom suggests that if one lingers around the hog pen too long eventually he or she will end up smelling like a hog.  It is best to, like Jesus suggested, shake the dust off our feet and move on (Matt. 10:14).  You did your best to talk/reason with them and God has not chosen you to reach out to them and perhaps someone else will be able to do it.  For some of us this is difficult because we are the ones who love arguing yet we call it “discussion” or “dialog.”  I think you love being right and want people to know it.  You can’t win everybody so move on!

So there are times when we answer people and times when we do not answer people but the point I want to make is that we need to make the best use of our time.

Bibles and Consumerism

June 28, 2010 — 2 Comments

I was looking on my twitter feed and noticed a tweet about this new bible called the Green Bible which is the latest edition to a string of study bibles which aims to help the reader grow closer to God.  Consider the publisher’s promotional statement for the Green Bible:

The Green Bible will equip and encourage you to see God’s vision for creation and help you engage in the work of healing and sustaining it. This first Bible of its kind includes inspirational essays from key leaders such as N. T. Wright, Barbara Brown Taylor, Brian McLaren, Matthew Sleeth, Pope John Paul II, and Wendell Berry. As you read the scriptures anew, The Green Bible will help you see that caring for the earth is not only a calling, but a lifestyle.

What does it mean to “read the Scriptures anew”?  It means reading it with a particular lens that causes you to look at verses differently and perhaps causes you to change your theology.  I understand that each and every one of us bring something different to the Scriptures when we read it but often these study bibles influence that even more.  Study Bibles are a billion dollar a year industry and publishers seek to find the latest “fad” or interest to peak reader’s attention or to reach into people’s pockets.  I looked on Christianbook Distributors and saw the different study bibles and here are some of my favorites (there were 950 different ones to choose from):

  • Thou Art Loosed Study Bible
  • Fire Bible (in chocolate and pink)
  • The Explorers Study Bible
  • The American Patriot’s Bible
  • TNIV True Identity
  • Serendipity Bible

I could go on and on with different bibles and I am not trying to make you feel guilty if you have one of these but my question is this: What happened to simply reading the Scriptures without having some sort of commentary?  Why can’t we read Scripture and let it be our “delight” and on God’s law we “meditate day and night” (Psalm 1:2)?  I understand that these bibles are tools to help you see the divine but what better way to see the divine than to read about Him in the book that he wrote?  One of the best decisions I made was to purchase an NIV bible that has hardly any footnotes and does not have one cross-reference.  It makes me do the work and does not distract me from simply reading the Word.  Look, all you need are pages with words on them.  You don’t need a Life Application Bible with Italian Duo calf-skin leather on it.  It’s just a Bible.  If you want to look cool carrying your $120 Bible into worship then by all means go for it but carrying that thing is not going to change your life.  Reading it will.  

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.”  Psalm 119:105   

Man Peeking Through a Hole in the FloorI don’t like to type the word let alone say it in a conversation.  The word carries with it a negative connotation and there is no escaping it.    The word is “hell” and I am teaching a class on it tonight  and I am honestly dreading it.  One person who was struggling with alcohol and drug abuse said, “my life has been a living hell.”  Perhaps he is right but the word brings a chill to my spine.  My sermons reflect the fact that I do not like to discuss hell and if you search “hell” on my blog you will find few posts about it.  I hate it.  

But I cannot ignore it no matter how much I do not like it.  My devotional reading today is Joshua 6-10 which is a context of war, conquests and a lot of things I would like to just skip.  Something spoke to me (thanks God ;)) in chapter 8 after the city of Ai was destroyed and the covenant was renewed with God’s people.  This is a monumental event in the story of God because the people have wandered for so long and now God is setting them down in their land that God himself has provided for them.  Jericho’s walls fell down and now the people have conquered Ai and so Joshua’s first message to the people was nothing more than astounding:

Joshua 8:34-35 34 Afterward, Joshua read all the words of the law– the blessings and the curses– just as it is written in the Book of the Law. 35 There was not a word of all that Moses had commanded that Joshua did not read to the whole assembly of Israel, including the women and children, and the aliens who lived among them (NIV). 

Note what Joshua did…

  • he read all the words of the law. 
  • just as they were written…
  • There was not one word…that Joshua did not read
  • to the whole assembly

You might say Joshua read the good, the bad and the ugly.  It was not Joshua’s place to interpret or to address his own specific needs from the text or portions that spoke to him more than others.  He simply read everything to everyone.  Perhaps some portions hit home more than others but that was not the point.  The point: exposure to the will of God and what he wants from his people. 

So tonight I speak to some high-schoolers about something I do not like to talk about but I speak declaring what God says even if I am not a fan of it.  Not all lessons are like this you know!!!

Pick and Choose

October 16, 2009 — 7 Comments

I want your opinion on something that is controversial in the churches of Christ so please feel free to comment on it.  A book that has probed my thoughts more than any other book has in a long time is Scot McKnight’s Blue Parakeet.  It is a book designed to help readers rethink how they should read the Bible.  Really it is a book on hermeneutics.  I will not get into much of the discussion but here is a few select quotes:

Furthermore, it is my belief that we-the church-have always read the Bible in a picking-and-choosing way.  Somehow, someway we have formed patterns of discernment that guide us.  (McKnight, Blue Parakeet, 122)

When we see how we actually live, we have two choices: either become radical biblical literalists and apply everything (and I mean everything), or to admit that we are “pickers and choosers.”  (123)

So here is my question: “Can we avoid the fact that we pick and choose in a certain manner?”  “Is it enevitable?”  Can we really believe the old adage, “The Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it” in all circumstances?  I am open to your thoughts.

We are studying Psalm 119 (parts of it) this weekend for Fall Retreat and the entire week I have been studying Psalm 119 in its entirety and I am drawn back from how much this Psalm focuses on Torah (or Law).  One author notes, “Each verse, except verse 122, contains at least one word for the Torah.  The fact that the poem exhausts the alphabet to describe and praise the Torah would suggest that the poet intended to describe its all-encompassing nature.  He has worked over the Torah from ‘A’ to ‘Z,’ (really Aleph to Taw) as it were, and looked at it from the linguistic angle of every single Hebrew letter” (C. Hassell Bullock, Encountering the book of Psalms, 221).  What’s the point?  I have always remembered Psalm 119 as being the longest “chapter” (a Psalm is not a chapter which has become a bit of a pet peeve for me when people say, “Turn to Psalm chapter _______) in the Bible.  Have you ever asked, “Why is the Psalm so long?”  The answer, I believe, lies in the Psalmist’s desire to show how God’s Word is all-encompassing and totally sufficient for the human condition.  Read the psalm sometime and look at the different characteristics and you will be amazed.  Consider my research below:

The different words used to describe Scripture in Psalm 119 (taken from the ESV):

Way – 3, 14, 15, 27, 32, 33, 37, 132

Law – 1, 18, 29, 34, 44, 51, 53, 55, 61, 70, 72, 77, 85, 92, 97, 109, 113, 126, 136, 142, 150, 153, 163, 165, 174

Testimonies – 2, 14, 22, 24, 31, 36, 46, 59, 79, 88, 95, 99, 111, 119, 125, 129, 138, 144, 146, 152, 157, 167, 168

Precepts (Occurs only 3 Times Outside of Psalm 119) – 4, 15, 27, 40, 45, 56, 63, 69, 78, 87, 93, 94, 100, 104, 110, 128, 134, 141, 158, 168, 173

Ordinances – 5, 8, 12, 16, 23, 26, 33, 48, 54, 64, 68, 71, 80, 83, 112, 117, 118, 124, 135, 145, 155, 171

Commandments – 6, 10, 19, 21, 32, 35, 47, 48, 60, 66, 73, 86, 115, 127, 131, 143, 151, 166, 172, 176

Rules – 7, 13, 20, 30, 39, 43, 52, 62, 75, 102, 106, 108, 137, 156, 160, 164, 175

Word – 9, 11, 16, 17, 25, 28, 42, 43, 49, 57, 65, 67, 74, 81, 89, 101, 103, 105, 107, 114, 130, 139, 147, 160, 161, 162, 169, 170, 172

Another study I did (taken from the NASB) is to look at what the Psalmist does “to” or “for” or “because of” the Scriptures.  I know that the Hebrew for some phrases are the exact same but rendered differently in English (I have taken that into account with some of the instances below) and some of them are the same in English but different in Hebrew.  My response to that is that we read an English Bible and the nuances are not that big a deal. 

Walk in It – 1, 3, 35

Observe (Watch) – 2, 22, 33, 34, 56, 69, 100, 115, 129, 145

Keep – 4, 5, 8, 9, 17, 34, 44, 55, 57, 60, 67, 88, 101, 106, 134, 146, 167, 168

Look (Regard) – 5, 15, 117

Learn (Be taught) – 7, 12, 26, 33, 64, 66, 68, 71, 108, 124, 125, 135

Don’t Wander – 10

Treasure it in my Heart – 11

Tell Others – 13, 46

Meditate – 15, 23, 27, 48, 78, 97, 99, 148

Rejoice – 14

Delight – 16, 35, 47, 70, 174

Not Forget (Remember) – 16, 49, 52, 61, 83, 93, 109, 141, 176

Live – 17

Cling – 31

Choose – 30, 173

Run in the Path – 32

Understand – 27, 34, 73, 104, 144, 169

Incline my Heart – 36, 112

Wait – 43, 74, 81, 114, 147

Seek – 45, 94

Not be Ashamed – 46

Love – 47, 48, 97, 113, 119, 127, 140, 163, 167

Lift Up My Hands – 48

Do not Turn Aside – 51, 102, 157

Turn my Feet – 59

Hastened and Did Not Delay – 60

Believe – 66

Heart be Blameless – 80

Eyes Fail Towards – 82, 123

Did not Forsake – 87

Diligently Consider – 95

Ever Mine (with me) – 98

Gone Astray – 110

Inherited – 11

Am Afraid – 120

Esteem Right – 128

Longed – 131

Know – 152

My Heart Stands in Awe – 161

Hope – 166

Do you have any observations from all of this?  Do you notice how the Psalmist elevated Scripture above all other aspects of his life?  In suffering, in success, in fellowship, in any aspect of his life the Torah of God was the way of life for him and it brought him great joy!  Tomorrow (a second appetizer for Fall Retreat) I will post about our response to Scripture and how it differs from the response in Psalm 119.

Chew on this for a little while! 

Whenever we pick up the bible, read it, put it down, and say, “That’s just what I thought,” we are probably in trouble.  The technical term for that is “proof-texting.” 

Ellen F. Davis, “Teaching the Bible Confessionally in the Church,” in The Art of Reading Scripture, Eds. Ellen F. David and Richard B. Hays (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2003): 16. 

Good quote from an interesting read.