Psalms

The Good Shepherd: An Endorsement

The 23rd Psalm must be the best-known, most-loved psalm, or perhaps even poem, in the world.

Kenneth E. Bailey, author of Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes, has written a book tracing how readers have read and interpreted the psalm: The Good Shepherd: A Thousand-Year Journey from Psalm 23 to the New Testament (IVP). See top image.

Here is my endorsement, which appears on the back cover:

“Kenneth Bailey refreshes the souls of readers with deep textual insights and helpful contextual background to safely shepherd readers through the thousand year story of Psalm 23, making several stops along the way in the Prophets, before settling into the Gospels where he deftly introduces us to a fresh understanding of the Good Shepherd. Anyone who loves the 23rd Psalm will love this book.”

I felt honored that my endorsement appeared alongside those of Gary Burge, Tremper Longman III, and Christopher Wright (the latter two have gracious agreed to endorse my next book), but curiously, the British publisher for the book (SPCK) decided to omit one of the four IVP endorsements from their back cover (hint: the one dropped wasn’t from Longman, Burge or Wright). See bottom image.

IVP generously sent me two copies of this book (one as an IVP author, one as an endorser).

In addition to endorsing the book, The Good Shepherd, I always endorse the person known as the Good Shepherd (see John 10:11).

I hope this book restores your soul.

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Does God really promise to give us our own nation?

Joel Osteen Psalm 2.8Recently, Joel Osteen Ministries posted on Facebook that we should pray “hidden dreams” and “unborn promises” based on Psalm 2:8.

I disagree, and write about it here on the BTS blog.  (The blog was written in August, but publication was delayed.)

My perspective is also quoted here in this article in the Christian Post (written by Nicola Menzie).

In Psalm 2:8, God promises to give the nations.  I keep asking for the nation of Tahiti, but God hasn’t come through yet.  Perhaps, I’m not righteous enough (see James 5:16)?

Please Comfort Comfort

kidnappednigeriangirls-1On April 14, 2014 more than 200 schoolgirls in NE Nigeria were kidnapped by the terrorist group Boko Haram.

Today at our BTS faculty meeting we prayed over a list of some of the names we received from the Church of the Brethren, since many of the girls are from families associated with the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria.

While politicians discuss ransoms and prisoner exchanges, whether it is ever acceptable to negotiate with terrorists, or whether the US should send troops on the ground to another sovereign nation, we can pray.  I assume, many of you are doing so already, but if not pray with me.

God, comfort Comfort Amos and her friends. 
Show grace to Grace Paul and her friends.  
Christ, be with Christiana Bitrus and their friends. 
Lord, we want to rejoice with Rejoice Sanki and her friends.

I spent the summer of 1985 in Bauchi state northern Nigeria not far from Borno State (NE corner of Nigeria) where the village of Chibok is located, where these girls are from.  Ironically, the nickname of Borno State is “Home of Peace.”

God, bring peace to the Home of Peace.  
God, comfort Comfort Amos and her friends.  

If you’d like to read more about the injustice that is happening to females in the world, check out these two books.

 

Half the Sky, by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, is a bestseller that not only tells incredible stories of oppressed women and girls but also offers a hopeful vision–how empowerment and education of women will lead to progress and development.

Half the Church, by Carolyn Custis James, speaks to what God is already doing, and what the church could be doing to embrace God’s vision for women throughout the globe.  

Hiking Oyster Dome, Part 2

Oyster Dome Hike Dave at sunset 4.45 pmIn Hiking Oyster Dome, Part 1, I told about my trip to Logos Bible Software in Washington state to tape two courses (1, 2, Samuel, and 1, 2 Kings). I concluded my week discussing David’s song in 2 Samuel 22 (which is the same as Psalm 18) where he praises his God for being his rock, his deliverer, and his savior. After a full week of taping, on Friday I wanted to head to the woods where I encountered God on my hike to Oyster Dome. After reaching Oyster Dome, I had 5 minutes to enjoy the spectacular view of forest, mountains, coastline, ocean, islands, clouds and sunset before heading back to my car, hoping to arrive before dark. (Review is now over.)

After going down about fifteen minutes, the path didn’t look familiar.  “I don’t remember walking across these logs.”  I had a moment of panic, thinking that I made a wrong turn.  I decided just to backtrack and find the right path.  After walking back about 10 minutes and not seeing an obvious “right path”, I began to wonder if I had made a mistake backing up.  I decided to just keep going the way I had originally gone.

But now the panic really began.  I could easily be 2 hours away from my car.  I wasn’t sure where I was.  Darkness was coming quickly.  I hadn’t seen anyone for 30 minutes.  Did I mention that my cell phone was dead?

The prospect of spending the night in the mountains loomed on the horizon.  I never made it past Cub Scouts, so I wasn’t good at the whole eating nuts and berries, and starting a fire from scratch thing.  No working phone, no flashlight.  I did have a map…and a God who listens to my prayers.

I recalled 2 Samuel 22 that I had taught on that morning, particularly verse 7.

In my distress I called upon the LORD

It’s been awhile since one of my prayers has felt that urgent.  “God, get me back to my car safely.”

I hiked another 10 minutes and found a point on my map that I did recognize.  I had made a wrong turn at the base of Oyster Dome.  Now, I had a choice, 1) Go back the way I had just came, or 2) Descend using my map on an alternate route called “Max’s Shortcut.”  I decided to go with Max (and hoped that that was not where the wild things were) and option 2 since I had already tried backtracking and it didn’t work out.  I had a good trail map.

As I headed down on “Max’s Shortcut,” I thought I should start jogging if it was flat or a slight decline to save time.  It was a bit awkward with my backpack.  I felt like Gimli (not like Aragorn or Legolas).  The sweat started to pore down my face.  My green shirt smelled like a high school boys locker room.

I was making good time and this path was clearly marked. (“Thank you, Jesus.”)  I met no wild things.  I knew where I was and could follow along on my map.  Everything was great until Max’s Shortcut ran into the Larry Reed Trail.  I saw a sign from the distance and was encouraged since I had seen no humans for about an hour.  I ran up to the sign, read it and was devastated.  “Trail Closed Due to Logging Danger.”

In my distress I called upon the LORD

The sign told me to go back the way I had come, which would now take over 2 hours.  It informed me that if I were caught trespassing on this trail I could be fined.  I thought, “I’d be happy to be caught and fined.  That’s better than spending the night in a forest.  But I don’t want to be crushed by a log.”

I decided to take my chances with falling logs with Larry Reed.

At first everything was great.  (“Thank you, Jesus.”)  The trail was clearly marked and relatively flat.  I knew where I was on my map and because I kept jogging I was making great time, until I ran into a clearing where the loggers had done their business.  The path disappeared as an enormous swath of the forest had been harvested.  All that was left was a big, brown gap, with no sign of the path.  I couldn’t make it back without a path.

In my distress I called upon the LORD

 I looked down at my map and noticed that the path through this section was relatively straight, so I tried to guess where the path should reappear on the other side of the clearing to give myself a heading and then starting walking straight.  After climbing through the dirt, and rocks in the clearing, I came to the other side and found my beloved Larry Reed Trail.  (“Thank you Jesus.”)

Ten more minutes of hiking/jogging took me to the Samish Overlook.  The view was amazing, not as high as Oyster Dome, but you were closer to the ocean and had a much wider panorama.  There were people there (Civilization!) who I considered hugging, but then thought better of the idea and just said “hi”.  (Did they think I was a wild thing?)

After a brief stop to take in the view, I was back to my Gimli-esque jogging and reconnected to the Oyster Dome Trail and went down the steep switch-backs knowing that I wouldn’t spend the evening in the wilderness, I wouldn’t be crushed by falling timber, and I wouldn’t be forced to chew on tree bark for sustenance.

About 4:45, I met a serious photographer taking shots of a gorgeous sunset who I convinced to take a picture of me with my iPad.  He’d never used a iPad. (“Just press that circle.”  “I don’t think it took.”  “It probably did.” “I’ll make sure.”  He took 10 pictures.  I included 1—image #3. “It will just be a silhouette.” “That’s OK, people don’t want to see my face anyway.”)

I finally made it down to my car as it was getting dark a few minutes after 5:00, exhausted, sweaty, sore, stinky, but most significantly grateful to the God that not only delivered David the king, also delivered David the hiker.  In the future, whenever I wear my green Samuel shirt I will be reminded of my hike to Oyster Dome and this is what I’ll say:

In my distress I called upon the LORD;
to my God I called.
From his temple he heard my voice,
and my cry came to his ears…
For this I will praise you, O LORD, among the nations,
and sing praises to your name (2 Sam. 22:7, 50).