Month: May 2012

The Psalmist is more like Frodo than Gandalf (Psalm 119:31)

I cling to your decrees, O LORD;
let me not be put to shame
(Psalm 119:30 NRSV).

“Fly, you fools!”  Our son Nathan exclaimed as he was clinging onto a rock at the top of a cliff and suddenly let go, disappearing from our sight.

We weren’t really nervous, unlike Gandalf (in Lord of the Rings 1) he wasn’t actually being pulled down by a Balrog.  There was another ledge just a few feet beneath him.

But whenever we watch Gandalf let go, I like to ask, “Why doesn’t Gandalf just keep clinging to the edge of the cliff like Frodo does at the end of LOTR 3?”  Frodo doesn’t initially let go (despite having just lost a finger) because he doesn’t want to get burned up in lava, but right as he’s tempted to give up and stop clinging, Sam commands him to not let go, so he just keeps clinging until Sam helps him up.


The psalmist is more like Frodo than Gandalf.

The psalmist desperately clings to God word and doesn’t let go.  In 119:25, the psalmist clings to the dust in 119:25 (see here).  And now, just a few verses later the psalmist is clinging to God’s decrees (or “testimonies”; see below in the ESV).

Since the Hebrew verb “cling” is dabaq the psalmist uses it at the beginning of two verses (119:25, 31) here in the Dalet section of Psalm 119 (verses 25-32) where every verse begins with the Hebrew letter Dalet. 

For Frodo, clinging meant not getting burned up in hot lava like Gollum (oops, too late, spoiler alert).  For the psalmist clinging to God and God’s laws protect the psalmist from shame (see also 119:6 here).  (Despite my unfortunate familiarity with shame, I’d still probably rather be ashamed than get burned up in hot lava.)

For the psalmist clinging involved, among other things, writing a 176 verse poem singing the praises of God and God’s laws.  For me, it involves blogging about Psalm 119 every Sunday (or in this case, Monday morning).

What other ways can we cling to God’s word? 

I hope I can be more like Frodo, than Gandalf in this regard, desperately clinging onto God and God’s word.  But all of us, a bit like Frodo, need people like Sam, who tell us not to let go, in this case of God’s word.  Be like Frodo and like Sam.

Help us, God, cling to you and your words. 

Who killed more people, God or Satan? (Part 1)

In the spirit of God Behaving Badly, several people have mentioned versions of this chart to me,

One of the atheists mentioned it to me while I was speaking at Bucknell, and I didn’t really have a good answer (partly because I wasn’t sure what the person was talking about).

Let’s come up with some good responses to this chart.

What would you say to someone who asked you about it? 

Where do the 10 Satan-caused deaths come from? 

In part 2, I’ll share my thoughts about the chart.

Here’s the article where the image comes from

Missional Presidents and Missional Partnerships (Biblical Faculty Blog)

At the end of WWII, President Truman needed someone to run a food aid program for post-war Europe to potentially save 100 million people.  Who did he select?  It’s someone you’ve heard of, but not someone you would have expected.

To find out more, read my blog post on Biblical Seminary’s faculty blog: Missional Presidents and Missional Partnerships.

Is it possible that the church can learn from the example of Republican and Democrat presidents about how to work together across traditional boundaries?  Yes.

While still unusual, “Missional Partnerships” among Christians are becoming more common.  In the post I mention two examples of Christians working together across denominational boundaries to advance God’s mission.  (I also discuss the book, The Presidents Club: Inside the World’s Most Exclusive Fraternity a great read, by the way.)

Two nights ago (after I had written this blog post), I attended a reception for high school students with my son Nathan (a junior) hosted by five schools: Duke, Georgetown, Harvard, Penn and Stanford.  When I told one of my friends about the reception he asked, “Did they all bag on each other?”  Shockingly, they did not.  It was impressive to see highly competitive schools work together for a common goal.  I wish denominations could reach across boundaries to work together like these presidents and these colleges.

God, make this more true of the Church.   

Where have you seen missional partnerships among Christians? 

Used for $7.25 (God Behaving Badly update)

Three random notes about my book.

About a year after God Behaving Badly came out I’m pleased that price for a used copy is still $7.25 (almost 80% of the retail new price).  It’s not uncommon for used books to be 50% or less of the retail price  People don’t want to get rid of the book (so far).

Rachel Held Evans calls the interview last week with Frank Viola, “Best Interview”: .


Scot McKnight on JesusCreed also mentioned the Viola interview under “Weekly Meanderings”:

Frank, Rachel and Scot all have blog readerships that are much broader than mine, but they were willing to mention me, my book and the interview I gave.  Thanks.  Check out their blogs if you haven’t already.