Monday, February 12, 2018

Lectionary Ruminations 2.5 for The 2nd Sunday in Lent (Year B)

Lectionary Ruminations 2.5 is a further revision and refinement of my Lectionary Ruminations and Lectionary Ruminations 2.0.  Focusing on The Revised Common Lectionary Readings for the upcoming Sunday from New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) of the Bible, Lectionary Ruminations 2.5 draws on over thirty years of pastoral experience.  Believing that the questions we ask are often more important than any answers we find, without over reliance on commentaries, I intend with sometimes pointed and sometimes snarky comments and Socratic like questions, to encourage reflection and rumination for readers preparing to lead a Bible study, draft liturgy, preach, or hear the Word. Reader comments are invited and encouraged.

GENESIS 17:1-7, 15-16
17:1 Last week, we encountered Noah and Noahic Covenant.  This week, we encounter Abram and the Abrahamic Covenant.  How do these two covenants inform our understanding of Lent and Easter? Abram was only ninety-nine year old? Well, at least he was not one hundred years old! Will it be lost on most people that Abram’s name will be changed to Abraham?  What does it mean to walk before God?
17:2 Of all people, why did God Almighty choose Abram?
17:3 Why does Abram fall on his face? Why do we no longer fall on our faces when we encounter or come before God Almighty?
17:4 What is the meaning of “nations”? Both Jews and Arabs trace their lineage to Abram. Do any other nations or ethnic groups, other than Jews and Arabs, trace their roots back to Abram?
17:5 Why does God change Abram’s name to Abraham? What does a name change symbolize? Who else in the Hebrew Scriptures exeriences a name change? Who in the New Testament experiences a name change?Note the use of the past tense “I have made you”.
17:6 Will Abraham be exceedingly fruitful or will his descendants be exceedingly fruitful?
17:7 In verse 17:2 God Almighty promises to establish a covenant with Abraham.  In this verse, the promise is extended to Abraham’s offspring.
17:15 Why does God have Abraham change Sarai’s name to Sarah? Are there any other women in the Bible who experience a name change?
17:16 What is the difference between a covenant and a blessing? God will bless Sarah, but does God extend the covenant to Sarah? Who else will bear a son of Abraham?

PSALM 22:23-31
22:23 What does the psalmist mean by “fear”? Why does the psalmist refer to offspring of Jacob/Israel rather than Abraham?
22:24 Is the Psalmist the afflicted? How was this Psalm interpreted by early Christians?
22:25 What is the great congregation? What vows will be paid?
22:26 Why “poor” rather than “hungry” if the issue is their being fed? Shall anyone praise the LORD who do not seek the LORD?
22:27 How many ends of the earth are there? Remember what? Why “families of the nations” rather than just “nations”?
22:28 What is the meaning of dominion? I though dominion had been granted to humans.
22:29 Is life being contrasted with death? How can the dead bow down? How does the recent observance of Ash Wednesday affect how we read and hear this verse?
22:30 Is this promise for the church as much as for Abraham and his offspring? Who will tell future generations about the Lord?
22:31 How does one proclaim anything to a people yet unborn?

ROMANS 4:15-25
4:13 Did only Abraham have faith, or did his descendants also have faith? What came first, the promise or Abraham’s faith?
4:14 This sounds logical.
4:15 Again, this sounds logical. Whose wrath does the law bring?
4:16 What does Paul mean by “the faith of Abraham?” Note that adherents to the law also guaranteed the promise.
4:17 Where is this written?
4:18 Is “hoping against hope” the same as “faith?”
4:19 Is hope or faith ever misplaced?
4:20 This sounds like faith is trust rather than assent to doctrine. Is distrust the opposite of faith? Is distrust the same as doubt?
4:21 God may be able to do what God promised, but does God always do what God is able to do?
4:22 What is Paul quoting?
4:23 How could anything written about Abraham be written for Abraham’s sake alone?
4:24 It seems Paul is now arguing that faith is belief rather than trust. How are belief and trust the same and how are they different? Does Paul call for faith in Jesus or the one who raised Jesus from the dead?
4:25 Must one believe only that Jesus was raised, or that he died for or trespasses and was raised for our justification? Does this passage assume only one particular theory of the Atonement?

Mark 8:31-38
8:31 Why does Jesus not begin to preach this until Chapter eight? How many people in the pews understand “Son of Man” language? How much time should a preacher spend in a sermon unpacking “Son of Man” language?
8:32 Did Jesus not always speak openly?  Why did Peter rebuke Jesus?
8:33 Note that Jesus look at the disciples rather than looking just at Peter when he rebuked Peter? What might be the multi-faceted meaning of “Get behind me Satan?” What are the “divine things” Peter out to be setting his mind on?
8:34 What cross? Is this the first time in Mark that Jesus or anyone else has mentioned a cross?
8:35 I think this is the kernel of wisdom in the husk of this passage. Was Peter seeking to save his own life or the life of Jesus?
8:36 Is this anything like the Faustian bargain?
8:37 Is this a rhetorical question?
8:38 Who might Jesus have in mind when he refers to those who are ashamed of him? Was this warning only for those in Jesus’ day, or for the readers Mark was writing to and for all generations? I can never recall being ashamed of Jesus but I have often been ashamed of what others, including the Church, have done, and are doing, in his name.

ADDENDUM
I am a Minister Member of Upper Ohio Valley Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and am serving as the Interim Pastor of the Richmond United Presbyterian Church, Richmond, Ohio. Sunday Worship at Richmond begins at 11:00 AM. My various blog posts have appeared on PRESBYTERIAN BLOGGERS and Appalachian Trials.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Still Tutoring

I started tutoring over eight years ago. Since then I have tutored students as young as sixth grade and as old as graduate students. I have tutored students in math, language arts, chess, philosophy, and theology. I have seen students raise their grade twenty-five points and two letter grades while I tutored them.

I am currently tutoring two female eighth graders who have been struggling with Algebra. I also first encountered Algebra in the eighth grade so I have empathy for these two teenagers, but my eighth grade Algebra course was forty-six years ago!

I excelled in high school math, acing the most difficult courses offered, as well as an optional course in slide rule back when we used those stone aged instruments instead of calculators. I did so well in my first year of college math that my professor had me tutoring students in the course the following fall. While I have not taken a math course in thirty-eight years, I still remember enough math, love math, and have maintained enough math proficiency to enable me to help both high school and college students with Algebra, Geometry, Trigonometry, and Algebra II.

I tutor each of my current students between one and two hours a session once a week, one Monday evenings and the other Tuesday evenings, both at a public library. I love helping them better understand and finally fully grasp often difficult algebraic concepts, from PEMDAS to linear equations, and quadratic equations to FOIL. I have come to realize that public school teachers often do not have the time or resources to devote to struggling students but that an hour or two of one-on-one tutoring can make a big difference.

I am offering my tutoring services to anyone within more-or-less a ten mile radius of Wellsburg, West Virginia. That includes Follansbee and Weirton, West Virginia and Steubenville, Ohio. If you or a person you know might benefit from tutoring, please visit this link to arrange for sessions.


https://www.wyzant.com/match/tutor/77187020

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Lectionary Ruminations 2.5 for the 1st Sunday in Lent (Year B)

Lectionary Ruminations 2.5 is a further revision and refinement of my Lectionary Ruminations and Lectionary Ruminations 2.0.  Focusing on The Revised Common Lectionary Readings for the upcoming Sunday from New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) of the Bible, Lectionary Ruminations 2.5 draws on over thirty years of pastoral experience.  Believing that the questions we ask are often more important than any answers we find, without over reliance on commentaries, I intend with sometimes pointed and sometimes snarky comments and Socratic like questions, to encourage reflection and rumination for readers preparing to lead a Bible study, draft liturgy, preach, or hear the Word. Reader comments are invited and encouraged.

PREFACE
It is a subtle grammatical distinction that makes an important theological and liturgical point when we identify Sundays “in” Lent rather than “of” lent. Do I need to say more?

GENESIS 9:8-17
9:8 Why does God not address the women? Why are the sons not named?
9:9 This is the first, the Noahic, not the Abrahamic covenant. The Covenant with Abraham (and Sarah) came later.
9:10 What are the implications for an ecological ethic? “Every animal of the earth” reminds me of the Native American “All my relations.”
9:11 Apparently God did not know about global climate change.
9:12-13  And the name of this sign is Roy G. Biv! Note that the covenant is not just with Noah or Noah and animals but the earth.
9:14 What is the science behind this?
9:15-16 Would God forget with this sign to jog the divine memory?
9:17 Is the sign of the covenant anything like the sign (and seal) of a sacrament? By the 17th verse, I am starting to hear redundancies.
9:13-17 The rainbow is not there for us but for God, to remind God. Sacraments are not there for God but for us, to remind us.
9:8-17 It is unfortunate that this passage does not mention the number forty.

PSALM 25:1-10
25:1 I am used to hearing about the lifting up of the eyes and familiar with the lifting up hands.  I wonder how many instances there are of lifting up of the soul. How do we lift up our souls to the LORD?
25:2 What is more biblical, trusting in God or believing in God? What, in your mind, is the difference between “trust” and “belief?”
25:3 What does it mean to wait for God and in this context who is waiting for God?
24:4How can the LORD “make” us know?
24:5 How does the LORD “teach”? Note “wait” in this verse as well as 25:3.
25:6 This sounds like the Psalmist is trying to remind a forgetful God. Maybe the Psalmist needed a multi-colored reminder to set before God.
25:7 I guess it is all right for God to forget some things, like my sins, but not other things, like God’s mercy and steadfast love. Are the “sins of my youth” the same as youthful indiscretions?
25:8-9 What is God’s “way”?
25:10 How many paths of the LORD are there? Can this verse be used to defend religious and spiritual  pluralism?

1 PETER 3:18-22
3:18 Christ suffered for whose sins? Christ was “made” alive in the spirit?
3:19 What spirits in what prison? Does this account for the “he descended into hell” phrase in The Apostles’ Creed?
3:20 Was this Second Reading selected in light of the First Reading, or vice versa? I compliment Paul on his theological creativity and seeing in the story of Noah a prefiguration of Christian Baptism.
3:21 Baptism may not remove dirt but what about sin?  Whose good conscience is being referred to?
3:22 What “authorities and powers” might Paul have had in mind?

Mark 1:9-15
1:9 In what days? Why was Jesus baptized?
1:10 Who saw what? If you had been there, what would you have seen?
1:11 Who heard this voice? Whose voice was this? Will we hear anything like this again in Mark’s Gospel?
1:12 How many times in Mark do we find “immediately?” Why would the Spirit drive Jesus out into the wilderness? What do you think of when you hear “wilderness?”
1:13 Why “forty days” and not “forty days and nights”?  How was Jesus tempted by Satan? Mark does not enumerate or name them, only Matthew and Luke do. How shall we understand and interpret this “Satan?” Why does Mark mention that Jesus was with the wild beasts? How did the Angels “wait” on Jesus?
1:14 Why did Jesus not come to Galilee until after John was arrested?  Where was Jesus before he came to Galilee? What is the “good news of God?” For any news to be good one must recognize that things can always be better.
1:15 What time is fulfilled?

ADDENDUM
I am a Minister Member of Upper Ohio Valley Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and am serving as the Interim Pastor of the Richmond United Presbyterian Church, Richmond, Ohio. Sunday Worship at Richmond begins at 11:00 AM. My various blog posts have appeared on PRESBYTERIAN BLOGGERS and Appalachian Trials.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Lectionary Ruminations 2.5 for the Transfiguration of the Lord (Year B)

Lectionary Ruminations 2.5 is a further revision and refinement of my Lectionary Ruminations and Lectionary Ruminations 2.0.  Focusing on The Revised Common Lectionary Readings for the upcoming Sunday from New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) of the Bible, Lectionary Ruminations 2.5 draws on over thirty years of pastoral experience.  Believing that the questions we ask are often more important than any answers we find, without over reliance on commentaries, I intend with sometimes pointed and sometimes snarky comments and Socratic like questions, to encourage reflection and rumination for readers preparing to lead a Bible study, draft liturgy, preach, or hear the Word. Reader comments are invited and encouraged.

2 Kings 2:1-12
2:1-12 How much does this reading influence our understanding of the Transfiguration and inform our interpretation of  Mark 9:2-9?  Can we read Mark 9:29, in part, as Midrash on this reading?
2:1 What is a whirlwind? Is there any significance to the fact that Elijah and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal? What was the relationship between Elijah and Elisha and are people in the pews aware of their relationship? Does their prior relationship influence or inform of interpretation of this text?
2:2 What is the significance of Bethel? Why might Elijah have wanted Elisha not to follow him? Why was Elisha insistent of accompanying Elijah?
2:3 Who are the company of prophets (see 2:5 as well)?  Why did Elisha bid them to keep silent?
2:4 Note the repetition of “stay here” and “as you yourself live” as in 2:2. Is there any significance to Jericho?
2:5 What do you know about Jericho? Note again the pattern of repetition, as in 2:3. Did every town, like Bethel and Jericho, have a company of prophets?
2:6 What do you know about the Jordan? Why this travel narrative? Why this continuous pattern of repetition and parallel structure, 2:2-3/2:4-5/2:6-7?
2:7 Is there anything significant or symbolic about the number fifty?
2:8 What is a mantel?  Is this a Midrash on Moses’ parting of the Red Sea?
2:9 What is a double measure of spirit?  Can prophetic spirit be willed or inherited? I would settle for half of Elijah’s spirit.
2:10 Does Elijah have the power to grant this request or does this power rest with God? Why the emphasis on seeing? How does this “seeing” inform our understanding of the Transfiguration?
2:11 Why does a chariot of fire and horses of fire appear?  What is their relationship to the whirlwind? Note the appearance of fire in Psalm 50:3.
2:12 What are “the chariots of Israel and its horseman?” Why did Elisha tear his clothes in two? Did Elisha inherit a double portion of Elijah’s spirit or not?

Psalm 50:1-6
50:1 Does God not summon from the setting of the sun to its rising? How does the LORD, the mighty one, speak and summons today?
50:2 What is perfect beauty? How does God “shine?” Would you have connected this verse with the Transfiguration if it had not been for the lectionary?
50:3 Does this verse alone, with its “fire” and “mighty tempest,”  justify this Psalm being paired with the First Reading? See 2 Kings 2:11 and 2:1
50:4 Who are God’s people?
50:5 Are we to assume from the First Reading that, at the time, only Elijah was faithful? Who initiated the covenant, God or the people?
50:6 How do the heaven’s declare God’s righteousness? Are images from the Hubble Space Telescope in any way Icons? I always ask the following question when “Selah” appears: how do you deal with it? Do you read it. Do you skip over it? Do you in any way interpret it?

2 Corinthians 4:3-6
4:3 Is our gospel veiled?  What sort of veil is Paul talking about? Who are perishing?
4:4 Who, or what, is  “the god of this world?” How does this verse illuminate our understanding of the Transfiguration and inform our interpretation of the Gospel Reading? How might “Illuminated Manuscripts” like The Book of Kells and the St. John’s Bible illuminate our understanding of this verse?
4:5 Why does Paul even have to write “For we do not proclaim ourselves?” Was someone accusing his of self promotion?
4:6 Where in Scripture did God say “Let light shine out of darkness?” Consider Genesis 1:3.

Mark 9:2-9
9:2 Six days after what? What else once happened after six days?  Why does Jesus always seem to take with him Peter, James and John?  What is the meaning of the word “transfigured?” Why am I thinking of Franz Kafka?
9:3 Was this in the days before Clorox and/or OxiClean? Have you ever seen anybody dressed in dazzling white?
9:4 Why Elisha and Moses?  What do they represent and/or symbolize?  If you had to pick two people from the Jewish Scriptures to appear with you, whom would you pick? What do you think they were talking about with Jesus?
9:5 Why might Peter have wanted to build three dwellings?
9:6 Note that Peter (singular) did not know what to say, for they (plural) were terrified. Have you ever been terrified? Is it human nature to sometimes make small talk, or even stick one’s footin one’s mouth, when terrified? Might Rudolph Otto help us interpret this verse?
9:7 What does the cloud represent? Where and when have we heard something like this before?
9:8 What just happened?
9:9 Why would Jesus order Peter, James and John not to tell anyone about what they had just seen?  What do you know about Mark’s “messianic secret?” Why is “Son of Man” used here but not earlier in this account?  Why do Peter, James and John have to wait until after the resurrection to tell people about what they experienced?

ADDENDUM
I am a Minister Member of Upper Ohio Valley Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and am serving as the Interim Pastor of the Richmond United Presbyterian Church, Richmond, Ohio. Sunday Worship at Richmond begins at 11:00 AM. My various blog posts have appeared on PRESBYTERIAN BLOGGERS and Appalachian Trials.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Prayer in Response to Marshall Co. KY Shooting

God of peace and wholeness,
our nation suffered yet another school shooting this past week.
Two were killed and seventeen wounded in Marshall County, Kentucky.
We pray not only for the families and friends of those killed,
and for the physical, psychological, and spiritual wellbeing of those injured,
but also for ourselves.
Give us the resolve to embrace common sense gun safety
and bring an end to our unfettered culture of gun violence.
May we live to see the day when students and teachers not only feel safe,
but are safe in their schools,
and such senseless violence is but a distant memory.
Lord, in your mercy . . . 

Monday, January 22, 2018

Lectionary Ruminations 2.5 for The 5th Sunday after Epiphany (Year B)

Lectionary Ruminations 2.5 is a further revision and refinement of my Lectionary Ruminations and Lectionary Ruminations 2.0.  Focusing on The Revised Common Lectionary Readings for the upcoming Sunday from New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) of the Bible, Lectionary Ruminations 2.5 draws on over thirty years of pastoral experience.  Believing that the questions we ask are often more important than any answers we find, without over reliance on commentaries, I intend with sometimes pointed and sometimes snarky comments and Socratic like questions, to encourage reflection and rumination for readers preparing to lead a Bible study, draft liturgy, preach, or hear the Word. Reader comments are invited and encouraged.

ISAIAH 40:21-31
40:21-31 This is one of the longer readings we have seen in a while.  How does the fact that this Reading is printed as poetry rather than prose affect or influence your interpretation and application?
40:21 What have you known? What have you heard? What are the foundations of the earth? Is the prophet asking merely rhetorical questions? Listen for an echo in 40:28.
40:22 Who is “he?”  I am surprised by “the circle” of the earth as I would have expected a flat earth with four corners rather than a flat disk. Why are humans compared to grasshoppers?
40:23 These images seem to assert God’s sovereignty.
40:24 What are the “they?” What is Isaiah talking about? In light of the recent US Government shut down, Republican as well as Democratic leaders should perhaps ponder this verse.
40:25 God is now talking. As in 40:21, are these rhetorical questions?
40:26 Now who is speaking? What are the “these?” What is God referring to?
40:27 Is there any other instance in Scripture of anyone speaking these words? What is meant by “way?” What “right” is being referred to and has God really been ignoring it?
40:28-31 These verses are sometimes used in the funeral service.
40:28 I hear an echo of 40:21.  This sounds like a confession of faith. Does either of the Genesis creation accounts inform this this verse?
40:29 What faint and powerless might Isaiah have in mind?
40:30-31 This is one of my favorite passages to read as part of a Service of Witness to the Resurrection and that fact probably colors my interpretation of it. No one is immortal and death may strike at any age.
40:31 What does it mean to “wait” for the Lord? What does renewing one’s strength feel like? Why am I thinking of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings trilogy? How many and what countries, beside the United States, have adopted the eagle as its national bird? I wonder if this is the favorite verse of marathoners and power walkers (I am neither). I wonder how Tom Brady and the New England Patriots read this verse.

PSALM 147:1-11, 20c
147:1 Why is it that some worshiping communities simply do not like to sing hymns and spiritual songs? How can the church carry on its tradition of musical praise when many public schools no longer offer music education and fewer and fewer people are learning to play the organ?
147:2 Who are the outcasts of Israel? What period in Jewish history does this reflect? How might recent political events, like the United States recognizing Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel?
147:3 Are the brokenhearted and wounded the same people as the outcasts of Jerusalem?
147:4 I wonder what God has to say about all the organizations that, for a small fee, will name a star after someone and then register that name. I wonder what names ancient Jews gave to the stars.
147:5 This sounds like a confession of faith as well as an expression of praise. Compare this verse to Isaiah 40:28.
147:6 Note the inversion, lifting up the downtrodden and casting down the wicked who were presumably on top because of their wickedness.
147:7 See my comments regading 147:1. What is our closest modern equivalent to the lyre?
147:8 God the cloud coverer and rain preparer.
147:9 Does God give food even to carnivores?
147:10 So God is not a horse racing or track and field fan?
147:11 What is the meaning of “fear?” Do you fear God? Might Rudolph Otto help us interpret this verse?
147:20c This is always a good way to end a Psalm and in this case the last/ending line echoes the first/opening line.

1 Corinthians 9:16-23
9:16 What is the meaning of “if?” I can almost resonate with Paul’s assertion about woe.
9:17 I think Paul’s comment calls for some spiritual and psychological honesty by those who preach.
9:18 How do “compensated” preachers handle this one?
9:19 How did Paul make himself a slave?
9:20 How could Paul make himself  a Jew when he was already a Jew?
9:21 Who were outside the law?
9:22 How did Paul become weak?  Can anyone truly be everything to all people? How would Paul have dealt with a non-homogeneous, pluralistic worshipping, spiritual, religious community? Was Paul self-differentiated?
9:23 How did Paul share in the blessings of the gospel?

Mark 1:29-39
1:29 Who were “they”? Where did Simon and Andrew live? Why are James and John mentioned?
1:30 So Simon was married? Who was and where was his wife?  Were Simon and Andrew living with Simon’s in-laws or were Simon’s in-laws and Andrew living with Simon? Who are “they” and who is “him?”
1:31 Who is “He?” What is the significance of her serving? Is there some patriarchal sexism behind this text?
1:32 Is “all” perhaps hyperbole?  What is the relationship between being sick and being possessed?
1:33 I think “the whole city” is again hyperbole? How many people might have inhabited Capernaum at this time (see Mark 1:21)?
1:34 Did Jesus cure many or all? Did he cast out many or all demons? Is his not permitting the demons to speak an example of Mark’s messianic secret?
1:35 So Jesus was a morning person!  Why pray in a deserted place? Was Jesus alone? How might this verse inform our understanding of the need for a spiritual discipline of prayer and retreat?
1:36 Who were Simon’s companions and why were Simon and his companions hunting for Jesus?
1:37 So Simon and his companions found Jesus! I did not know Jesus was lost. Is “everyone” another hyperbole? Is Simon referring to physical or spiritual searching?
1:38 What towns neighbored Capernaum? Why am I thinking of Eugene Peterson?
1:39 What if Jesus had proclaimed the message but not cast out demons? What if he had cast out demons but not proclaimed the message?  Must proclaiming the message and casting out demons go hand in hand? Why is there no mention in this verse of healing the sick (see my comments for Mark 1:32.

ADDENDUM
I am a Minister Member of Upper Ohio Valley Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and am serving as the Interim Pastor of the Richmond United Presbyterian Church, Richmond, Ohio. Sunday Worship at Richmond begins at 11:00 AM. My various blog posts have appeared on PRESBYTERIAN BLOGGERS and Appalachian Trials.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Lectionary Ruminations 2.5 for The 4th Sunday after Epiphany (Year B)

Lectionary Ruminations 2.5 is a further revision and refinement of my Lectionary Ruminations and Lectionary Ruminations 2.0.  Focusing on The Revised Common Lectionary Readings for the upcoming Sunday from New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) of the Bible, Lectionary Ruminations 2.5 draws on over thirty years of pastoral experience.  Believing that the questions we ask are often more important than any answers we find, without over reliance on commentaries, I intend with sometimes pointed and sometimes snarky comments and Socratic like questions, to encourage reflection and rumination for readers preparing to lead a Bible study, draft liturgy, preach, or hear the Word. Reader comments are invited and encouraged.

DEUTERONOMY 18:15-20
18:15 Who is speaking? How does God raise up prophets? Who are the prophets God has raised up in our day and age?
18:16 What and where is Horeb? What happened there? Is there any other reference to the people saying this?
18:17 Is the LORD in the habit of claiming people are right or wrong in what they say?
18:18 Is this simply a restatement of 18:15?
18:19 What does it mean to be held accountable by God? Is there anyone God does not hold accountable?
18:20 What other gods?  Do we ever presume to speak in God’s name when God has not commanded us to speak? Does not everyone eventually die?

PSALM 111
111:1 Do some Christians praise the LORD more with the mind than the heart? Who are the upright? What is the congregation?
111:2 What are the works of the Lord? How does one study them?
111:3 How do we experience the majesty and honor of God’s works?
111:4 What wonderful deeds might the Psalmist have in mind? What does it mean to gain renown?
111:5 In this context, what does it mean to fear the LORD? Does God not provide food to those who do not fear him?
111:6 What is the power of God’s works? What is the heritage of the nations?
111:7 God has hands? What are the works of God’s hands? What are God’s precepts? What does it mean that they are trustworthy? Are the works of God’s hands the same thing as God’s precepts?
111:8 What are established forever and ever, the works of God’s hands or God’s precepts? How are they performed with faithfulness and uprightness?
111:9 What is meant by redemption and how did God send it?  What is the difference between “Holy” and “awesome”? What is God’s name? Is God’s name so awesome and Holy that Christians should not pronounce it?
111:10 See my question regarding 111:5. All who practice what fear or all who practice wisdom? What is meant by “wisdom?”

1 Corinthians 8:1-13
8:1 When was the last time you were concerned about food offered to an idol? Is there any equivalent issue or similar concern in our culture or in the church today? What is meant by knowledge?
8:2 I think Socrates would have liked this verse?
8:3 Why am I thinking of Bishop Berkeley? What is preferable, to know God or to be known by God?
8:4 After all he has written about knowledge, how can Paul claim to know that “no idol in the world really exists” and that “there is no God but one?”
8:5 Who or what are these “so-called” gods and do they exist or not?
8:6 Note the “from whom” and “through whom” language. What is Paul saying?
8:4-6 What is the essence of Paul’s argument about idols, gods and God? Does this have any bearing on how we approach or engage in interfaith relations?
8:7 What is the relation between knowledge and conscience? Is Paul confusing knowledge with custom?
8:8 How might this verse impact our understanding of the spiritual discipline of fasting? What about those who are hungry, malnourished, and ministries like Bread for the World?
8:9 I understand how one person’s liberty can be another person’s stumbling block, but what about someone’s stumbling block becoming an impediment to the exercise of another person’s liberty?
8:10 In other words, don’t let people of week conscious see you engaging in adiaphorous activities?
8:11 How long shall weak believers be permitted to remain weak? Are not all believers called to grow and mature from a weak faith to a strong faith?
8:12 I would like to ask Paul what to do when people of weak faith wound my conscious by judging others when they should not be judged.
8:13 But the issue was not eating meat, rather food sacrificed to idols.
8:7-13 What is more pastoral when it comes to Bible study and preaching, to dumb things down for those whose conscious is weak, or to help people grow in faith and understanding by asking tough questions, employing recent scholarship,  and suggesting other  interpretations of Scripture they may not even be familiar with?

MARK 1:21-28
1:21 Who went to Capernaum? Where were they before they went to Capernaum? Why did they go to Capernaum and not someplace else? What do you know about Capernaum?
1:22 When was the last time you were astounded by someone’s teaching?  What does it mean to teach with authority? I’m glad I am not a scribe.
1:23 How convenient!
1:24 What is the irony here?
1:25 Why would Jesus rebuke this truth speaking spirit, even if it was an unclean spirit?
1:26 Do some people still associate convulsions with possession?
1:27 Indeed! What is this? What amazed people, a new teaching, or that Jesus taught (and acted) with authority? What is the relation between “amazed” in this verse and “astounded” in 1:22? What and where are today’s unclean spirits?
1:28 When was the last time you associated the word “fame” with Jesus? There may have been fame but apparently there was no fortune.

ADDENDUM
I am a Minister Member of Upper Ohio Valley Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and am serving as the Interim Pastor of the Richmond United Presbyterian Church, Richmond, Ohio. Sunday Worship at Richmond begins at 11:00 AM. My various blog posts have appeared on PRESBYTERIAN BLOGGERS and Appalachian Trials.