Month: May 2013

Saying “No”

Two years ago I arranged to present an academic paper at Oxford on the Wise Women of the book of Samuel.  I was really looking forward to going back to Oxford where we lived for six years, visiting my church (St. Aldates), seeing colleagues and sharing some of my research.

We moved away 7 years ago and went back once in 2008.  We loved England and we desperately miss it now.

In the fall of 2012 when I was in the middle of my health crisis (reflux, vocal chord damage, sleeplessness, panic attacks), I had to cancel speaking engagements at churches and conferences.  I also canceled my talk and trip to England.

If I hadn’t canceled that trip, I would be giving my paper right now.

IsayNO1As painful as it is for me to think about not being in Oxford, I’m glad I said “No” to the wise women of Samuel talk.  It was a wise decision.

By saying “No” back in October, my stress level went down a notch, which needed to happen.

Two weeks ago, I was offered a very attractive 2-week teaching gig in Colorado.  I would have loved it.  But I have two book contracts that I’ve committed to (a Kings commentary for Zondervan and a Historical books textbook for Fortress) and teaching for two weeks in Colorado, and grading for two more back home, would have prevented me from making much progress on those books.  So, I said “No” to teaching in Colorado.  Ask me at the end of the summer how those book projects are coming.  

I’m slowly getting better at saying “No“.

Maybe you have no problem saying no.
Maybe your life isn’t busy enough.
Maybe that’s why you have time to read my blog…

But if you’re like me, and most Americans, you probably need to say no to more things, in order to make sure the most important things get done.

What do you need to say “No” to?  And you can’t say “blog reading.”  

Let’s practice together: “No.”
Again: “No.”
One more time: “Yes.”
That wasn’t right.  That was actually aYes.”  I know it’s easy to get the two confused, but “Yes” is the opposite of “No.”  

See, it’s hard to say “No”  Keep working on it.  I will.

Cursing, Baby Bashing, and Psalm 137

What do you think of Psalm 137, the end of the psalm where it talks about blessing people who bash babies heads against the rock?

I was asked about it during a job interview and didn’t have a good answer.  If I had a better answer I think I would have gotten a job in England back in 2005.  (I started working at Biblical in 2006.)

While I can’t say I like Psalm 137:9, I’m glad it’s in the Bible.

In this blog for Biblical Seminary I discuss this highly troubling text.

Check it out here: Cursing, Baby Bashing, and Psalm 137.

psalm-1379-christian-bible-girl-baby-religion-1351402656Apparently atheists love this verse.  I found this image on what appears to be an atheist website:

Christians should be troubled by, but not afraid of, this verse.  I hope my readers who consider themselves Christians know people would consider themselves atheists who they could discuss Psalm 137 with.

A student told me yesterday that her atheist professor embarrassed her in front of the class when he asked about another troubling text, the rape of the Levite’s concubine in Judg. 19.  She still vividly remembers this experience decades later.

We Christians too often ignore these troubling texts of the Old Testament, so when they come up in discussions with atheists, agnostics or skeptics, we don’t have an answer.

Check out the Biblical blog for some of my thoughts (I hesitate to call it the “answer”).



Are you pissed at God?

I’m the divine anger guy.  I’ve written articles recently on “Wrath” in the Dictionary of the Old Testament: Prophets (IVP Bible Dictionary) and Divine Wrath and Divine Compassion in Holy War in the Bible: Christian Morality and an Old Testament Problem.

So, when I was looking at the CBS news website today and I ran across an interview with Ian Punnett, author of How to Pray When You’re Pissed at God: Or Anyone Else for That Matter I was intrigued.  Human anger?  Perhaps a new topic to focus on?

Here’s the link if you want to listen to the interview with the author.  It’s good.

I haven’t bought the book yet, but I probably will just based on the title.  It’s currently in the top 200 on Amazon and the #1 book on prayer right now.

He starts out with an angry tweet from Steve Johnson, wide receiver for the Buffalo Bills who was pissed at God (after he dropped a pass).  Johnson took flack for his angry outburst since people think that pious people don’t talk like that to God, but Punnett thinks he shouldn’t have.  Scripture is full of people who are angry at God.

I could have used this book during the fall when I didn’t understand what God was doing in my life.  I will probably have opportunities in the future when this book will be relevant to my life.  Although, it would be OK if I didn’t.

How do you pray when you’re pissed at God? 

Be careful, though, you don’t want to get struck by lightning.