Posts Tagged ‘Psalms’



April 15, 2014

“But he said to him, “Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding, which must be curbed with bit and bridle, or it will not stay near you.” Psalm 32:10

 Snort was a present for my wife that I bought at a 4-H fundraising auction. Before you reach the obvious conclusion that the gift of a miniature donkey makes me a hopeless romantic, I will confess to an ulterior motive. I bought Snort for one particular joke.  A joke that necessitated, Snort being my wife’s donkey.  While I and all the other 12 year olds out there might find my joke hilarious, the Devoted Life editor (my wife) felt that it might not be very appropriate.  This is probably one of those situations where it is good for a man to be married.  Suffice to say, my joke cost me $200 but I enjoyed it immensely.

000_2627However, my joke lost its appeal as it became more evident that Snort was my donkey. I would let Snort out of his corral and he would follow me around like a dog. If I dug a hole, Snort would put his head in it. If I was trimming shrubs, Snort would work his way between me and the bush. When I was petting the dog or cat, he would chase them away and rub up against me until I scratched between his ears.  He would even try to sit on my lap.

It had become obvious that Snort was my little donkey, which ruined my joke. However, it had also became obvious that Snort was a bad little donkey.

Snort had turned into an escape artist. He had learned how to open his pen, despite the measures we took. I would be standing by the kitchen window and suddenly a donkey would go prancing through our yard, nose stuck up into the sky in defiance. Snort was out…again.

Snort amused himself by nuzzling up against me while I was kneeling down to work or sitting in chair reading a book. He found great delight in nibbling my baseball cap and then running off with it. It was cute the first couple of times but then it got annoying as I was spending more and more time battling Snort for my hat.

000_2625However, Snort’s disobedience was becoming more than a simple annoyance. He was becoming a danger to himself and others. Once, he escaped from his corral and was able to get into our neighbor’s pasture with several mules. Those mules ran Snort relentlessly. My wife just happened to notice him in the pasture when she was driving home. By the time she got him out of the pasture, he was exhausted and bloodied, having been run into barbed wire fence in several areas.

On another occasion, he had gotten himself into the middle of our neighbor’s freshly planted wheat field. We called and called him but he refused to listen. Finally, my kids and I had to chase him across a corrugated field, stumbling and falling, as that nasty little donkey refused to go back home.

The worst manifestation of his defiance was the kick he had integrated into his prance of independence. He would run by with his nose in the air and give a little side-ways kick with his rear leg. Even though he was a little donkey, that kick could cause some real injury.

My joke had run its course; it was time to train Snort.

Since I had neither the time nor the knowledge, we gave Snort to a friend who had both. Snort’s world changed abruptly. He was disciplined and trained to go where his master directed him. He was forced to do tasks over and over again until he did them willingly. He was made into something more than a joke.

There are not very many useful things for a miniature donkey. Yet, Snort has been the star in several Christmas and Easter plays and has been the ambassador in a multitude of parades. He did all of those events with only a halter because he had been trained.

I wonder how many times I have been like an untrained Snort. A little donkey prancing around in defiance to my Master’s wishes; refusing to be led away from a destructive environment; being a danger to myself and those around me; being a joke.

God did not save us for his amusement. He did not send His own Son to redeem us for the purposes of a joke. He saved us for a purpose. The Westminster Shorter Catechism summarizes nicely the chief purpose of man; Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.

The reality is that we have to be trained to this purpose. That will often require a bit and bridle to drive the rebellious Snort out of us. However, we have something that Snort does not have. We have the gift of understanding. Let’s use our understanding to cooperate with God’s purpose in our lives so that the bit and bridle are not necessary.

May we be like the horses in this video that come running when our Master cracks the whip.

PRAYER: Father, forgive me for too often living without the understanding  you have given me.  Thank you for those time when you have turned my rebellious head for my own good.  Lord, continue to train me in your righteousness; teach me how I can glorify you and enjoy you in all that I do. Sanctify my heart so that I will hear your voice and come with a cheerful heart, without the need for a bit or bridle.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen

Enhanced by Zemanta


March 1, 2014

“There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High.”  Psalm 46:2

Snake River in Idaho

I received an overview of rivers as I trekked across southern Idaho for a recent ski day.  I crossed the Snake River, which is a slow, wide, and meandering river that is not very inviting.  The Snake River is a dark muddy river where I live.  It is full of sediment washed from thousands of acres.  It cuts into banks of soil in its century’s long search of the perfect course.  Energy continually dissipates as soils are consumed along the river bottoms, producing an opaque soup that is not fit to consume.

Stuck in Customs / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

As I ascend into the mountain reaches, the rivers become narrow and hardened.  The soils have long ago been washed away and the underlying rock exposed.  Channels lie fixed between mountain ranges.  Water flows with vigor and energy.  The life-sustaining water tumbling across the rocks of these rivers and creeks glistening in the morning sun, inviting a refreshing taste.

The parables and other imagery of the Bible mixed and mingled as I contemplated these rivers that accompanied me in a weary descent from an enjoyable day spent sliding down a mountain.

I could see my life as a follower of Christ illustrated in the changing of these rivers.

I know that I live mostly oblivious to the majority of the deep spiritual realities all around me – like looking through muddy water.  The polluting influences of my flesh have long obscured the truths of the living water of Christ.  I get periodic glimpses of fleeting clarity to bolster my hope during those brief periods when my eyes clear of selfishness and the resulting murk of life.

The eroding work of the Spirit has continued through the years to churn away at the banks of my idolatrous world.  I meander spiritually through this life as the Spirit relentlessly undermines one unholy edifice after another.  It has always been messy when a bank of bad soil finally collapses into the rushing power of the living water.  Confusion and questions swirling in the obscured wash of a life being gouged deep.

Yet, the Spirit is faithful.  The flowing power of the living water has never diminished and the cleansing flush of the divine always brings clarity through reliance, restoring tranquility to the child, love by God.  The seemingly meaningless meandering of a life endlessly eroded is never futile.  God is accomplishing a concealed purpose within the sightless depths of our soul.

English: Shoshone falls located in the state o...

He is washing the bad soil of our flesh away to reveal the bedrock of faith.

Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock.  (Matthew 7:24)

We are able to have a hope in the future only through a life firmly fixed upon the rock of Christ.  We can only find that rock through the hydraulic mining of the Spirit, removing layer after layer of bad soil from our lives.  The entire process of sanctification, being transformed from one degree to another into the image of Christ, is a messy and bewildering process.  We rarely can see through the muddy confusion of a life being hydraulically washed by the Spirit.

I have often been frustrated by the ostensibly random patterns to life.  I have wondered if I had jumped the banks of my purpose.  I have wondered why events have transpired in so unexpected ways.

By faith, I know that there is nothing random in the life of an heir of God (Rom. 8:16-17).

Maybe, all the chaos that we don’t understand is evidence to the continued work of God in our lives.

Maybe, the sudden bend in circumstance is another opportunity of the Spirit to remove the bad soil of our lives.

Maybe, the vigorous nature of suffering and disappointment is the living water driving deep into hidden crevasses of our soul to remove the last vestiges of rebellion.

We need to take heart through all trials and temptations because the Spirit of God uses those times to drive us onto the rock of our faith – Jesus Christ.  He loves us too much to allow us to build our lives on bad soil.  He loves us too much to leave us in our idolatry.  He loves us too much to allow us to continue meandering through life in an endless search for contentment.

It is because of love that He continues to wash us clean
– as painful as that might be.

My hope is that every child of God will look back at their lives and see a transformation as distinct as the difference between the Snake River and a mountain creek.

May we be washed clean and Christ exposed in every aspect of our lives.

May our course be gouged deep into the sure foundation of the King of kings.

May the living water flowing through our lives invite others to taste and see that the Lord God is so very good.

May the assurance of our salvation abound through the clarity of a life being continually washed by the word of God.

May our lives be streams that make glad the city of God,
the holy habitation of the Most High.

PRAYER: Father, thank you for the good work that you continue to do in my life.  Thank you for continuing to erode away at my selfishness, disobedience, pride, and discontent.  Lord, thank you for repeatedly bringing me back to the sure foundation of your Son, Jesus Christ.  Please continue your work in me.  Don’t leave me as I am.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son,  Jesus Christ.   Amen.

Enhanced by Zemanta


May 26, 2013

“But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children’s children, to those who keep his covenant and remember to do his commandments.”  Psalm 103:17-18

English: Icon of U.S. currency.

English: Icon of U.S. currency. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Bitcoin is the new currency curiosity.  It is a digital currency in an electronic cash system.  Transactions are completed with the transfer of bitcoins from one person’s ledger to another’s ledger.  However, nothing is really transferred.  Numbers are merely tallied across all the ledgers of those in the bitcoin market.

I like the idea of having a bank where my money resides.  I realize that my bank doesn’t really have a vault with a pile of bills in the corner marked, “JD Blom”.  My money resides at their bank in a ledger stored on a computer.  I use a credit card or a check for most of my purchases.  Ledgers get modified with every swipe of my card.  Money gets tallied from one computer to another with each check processed.  I exchange my dollars more like bitcoins than I care to admit.

Bitcoins have value because people assign them value.  A bitcoin has value based on what you can buy with it.  The value is actually in the transaction.  A bitcoin could become valueless if no one were willing to accept the transaction in exchange for their “real” good or service.  However, that is the problem with any “real” money.  Money is only valuable when people give it value.  The dollar that I have in my wallet is only valuable if the store will accept it in exchange for what we mutually agree is of comparable value.

The problem for any currency is inflation.  The dollar that I have in my wallet cannot buy the same amount of goods and services as the dollar my great, great, grandfather had in his wallet.  The devaluing of currency seems to be inevitable.  I have never known a period when inflation was not occurring to some extent.  Inflation does not illicit much concern when it happens over decades but banks collapse when a currency devalues in terms of weeks and months.

Deutsch: Potin tetradrachme (21mm, 8.4g) gesla...That is when we see people try to move their money to more stable forms of currency.  During the latest financial troubles, many people exchanged their paper money into what they felt was a more lasting currency – gold. The best currencies in any market are those that are stable.  The perfect currency is that which can be counted upon to be of the same value, in good times and in bad times.

Have you ever thought about the love of God in terms of currency?  The love of God is from everlasting to everlasting.  It does not change.  It is through the love of God that we have been saved.  What we have been given by the love of God will never be devalued.   God showed us His love by sending us His Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin.  God’s love is manifested by His victory over sin for us.

English: A Celtic Cross in the Sunset, St. Mar...What is the value of God’s love?

The value is in the transaction.  The transaction is eternal life.  What value is that for you?

For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust. As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more. Psalm 103:14-16

Our own life and that of our family is most people’s treasure.  Most parents will exchange all that they have for the life of their child.  The value of life is very high.  However, our life is a poor currency.  Our life has value for only about 70-80 years and then it becomes valueless.  We invest heavily into something that will be dust in less than a century.  That is not a stable currency.

Where are you investing the value of your life?  Consider all that you do as an investment.  It will be either to dust or eternity.

The steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him.  Maybe it is time for a currency transfer.

PRAYER: Lord, forgive me for not valuing your love like I should.  Forgive me for taking it for granted and treating it as common.  I know that it is not even possible for me to truly grasp the extent of the love that you have shown me.  Your steadfast love is as high as the heavens are above the earth; your forgiveness is as far as the east is from the west.  Open my eyes, Lord.  Help me to understand the depths of mercy that you have shown me.  There is nothing of more value than you O’ Lord.  You are high and lifted up; worthy of all praise and honor.  Thank you for loving me.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son, Jesus Christ.   Amen.



March 15, 2013

“It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to your name, O Most High;…” Psalm 92:1

My son recently had the opportunity to attend a 4-H, “Know Your Government” event at our state capital.  It was a multi-day event of meeting state representatives, judges and people of political importance.  They got to role play from the actual seats where real decisions are made.  However, I think the biggest draw was the food and the hotel room.  Our son’s stay was his first without his doting parents.  His parents were assuaged by the fact that the adult chaperones were individuals who we know and trust.  That helped considerably in relinquishing our son for his first independent out-of-town adventure.

He had a wonderful time.  We think that it was a great education experience for him; time will tell on that one.  We know that it was an important step in maturing into a responsible young man.  It was important for me as a parent.  That makes us very grateful to those who were instrumental in allowing our son to experience such an event.  We are particularly grateful to the chaperones.  They took time away from their work and families.  They had to pay for their own hotel rooms.  They had to put-up with the drama and silliness that is teenagers.  This event was a significant intrusion into their lives.  Yet, they volunteered and as a result my son benefited from a great experience.

New Orleans: Thank you message in the grotto o...

New Orleans: Thank you message in the grotto of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church; added by those for whom prayer or miracles were granted (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As an expression of our gratitude, my wife encouraged, forcefully motivated, forced our son to write a Thank You note of appreciation and send it to  them.

I was surprised by what we later discovered.  My son’s note was the first note of gratitude that the chaperone had received in four years of volunteering.  He was appreciative of the appreciation.

How bad is that?

universal thank you noteThe definition of grateful is an appreciation of the benefits received. 

When we say thank you, we are communicating that we believe that we have received a benefit and that we value that benefit.  We do not feel appreciation for something that we don’t value.  I would not feel a lot of appreciation if a person were to give me a single penny.  However, I would feel a lot of appreciation if someone were to give me 100,000 pennies.  My appreciation will be more because I value 100,000 pennies more.

In addition, I would not be appreciative in the same way if the 100,000 pennies are given to my friend.  I have not received the benefit of the gift.  The gift is not mine.  We are benefiting from a variety of work that is seen and unseen.  Gratefulness comes only for those aspects where we acknowledge and recognize the benefits.

Consider the message that we communicate when we are not grateful.

We either:

Don’t value what someone has done for us


We don’t believe what they have done for us has a benefit.

Discouragement is the enemy of all who give themselves to the service of others.  These folks, typically, don’t put in the time and effort to receive the accolades or praise. However, the question of, “is it worth it?” will inevitably aside.

“Is it worth it?” is asked in a probing search to discover whether people are actually benefiting from all of their efforts.  The reason the question comes up is because they are often working in a vacuum.  The problem is that grateful people are not communicating to them how they have been helped by their service.

“Is it worth it”? is asked when there is a sense that all their efforts are not valued.  Those who serve others have made an exchange.  They have given something of value to them, their time, energy and often money, in an effort to create something of value for another person. It is when that effort is disregarded, tossed aside, taken for granted, or unfairly compared, that the discouragement of “is it worth it?” sneaks in.  The problem is that Grateful people are not communicating to them how much they value what is being given to them.

Are you a grateful person?  You cannot be a grateful person without other people knowing how you feel.  There is no such thing as private gratitude or stealth appreciation.

When was the last time you sent a thank you card?

When was the last time you told your spouse, parent, sibling, friend, Pastor, teacher, mentor, coworker, how much you appreciate them?

When was the last time you sent a small gift acknowledging someone’s special effort?

When was the last time  you told someone how much they have helped you?

These are some of the actions that define whether you are a grateful or ungrateful person.

When was the last time you thanked God?

God sent his only Son to remove our condemnation.  We have benefited from His sacrifice.

God has adopted us as his children; children of God, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ.  We have been given a gift of incomparable value.

“It is good to give thanks to the Lord…” (Psalm 92:1)  It is good to be grateful to the Lord because that expression is an acknowledgement that we understand that we have benefited from His gift of tremendous value.  The attitude of the one who has experienced the Lord’s amazing grace can be only that of appreciation – gratitude.

May we be known for our gratitude to those who the Lord has placed in our lives to help us and most importantly to the Lord Most High for saving us!

PRAYER: Lord, thank you for saving me.  Thank you for placing people in my life to help me.  Thank you for my wife and family.  Thank you for my friends.  Thank you for all that you have given me.  Thank you for the air that I breathe, the rain that falls, the earth beneath my feet, and all of the other miracles of this world that makes my life possible.  Father, I want others to know the amount of gratefulness that is within me for You and them.  Help me to pause on a regular basis and communicate my gratefulness.  Amen



January 6, 2013

“But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled, my steps had nearly slipped. For I was envious of the arrogant when I saw the Prosperity of the wicked…But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task, until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end.” Psalm 73:3, 16-17

I was doing interval training on my bicycle trainer last night.

That is not entirely true.  I intended to do interval training on my bicycle.  For those who don’t know, interval training is doing an activity, biking in my case, at an intensity that is near your anaerobic level for a short period, followed by a recovery period.  The reason you do intervals is to build up your cardiovascular capacity and lactate threshold.   The problem with intervals is that they hurt.

My plan was to push my biggest bike gear for 1 minute, followed by 2 minutes of easy spinning for recovery.  That was the plan.  However, implementing the plan did not go very well.  My head was not in the game.  I only did three intervals.  Three intervals during 40 minutes of spinning is pretty pathetic.  My problem – those things hurt.  I completely and totally wimped out – I am so disappointed in myself.   I could have gone harder but I wussed out.  I hate that.

pain-suffering-cyclingThis last summer I read an article in Bicycle Magazine that just confirmed what I had already known.  I am weak. I don’t endure pain well.  I don’t suffer well.

Why is it that some athletes have the ability to just keep going; to push just a little harder; to dig a little deeper?  I have always convinced myself that the reason that I would stop was because I had reached my physical limit.  Those guys that pushed past me were in better shape; had a higher lactate threshold; had a higher max VO2 level; were simply a better athlete.  My comfort in my mediocrity was that my body was my governor.  You can’t fight genetics.

The Bicycle Magazine article pretty much shatters my excuse with the research that has been done.  The research shows that for the majority of us our governor is our brains – we stop a long ways before we have to physically stop – we all can go harder and longer.

English: Cyclist Lance Armstrong at the 2008 T...

English: Cyclist Lance Armstrong at the 2008 Tour de Gruene Individual Time Trial, 1 November 2008 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So, why is it that some athletes can will themselves to endure what others cannot?  I believe it has to do with maintaining a vision of the end.  Why was Lance Armstrong able to win seven Tour de France races?  Putting aside all the steroid discussions, I think that Lance Armstrong was successful primarily because of this attitude:

“Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever. That surrender, even the smallest act of giving up, stays with me. So when I feel like quitting, I ask myself, which would I rather live with?”  (Lance Armstrong. It’s Not about the Bike: My Journey Back to Life)

He had a vision of the end.  That is what drove him to endure temporary pain because he would rather live with temporary pain than quitting – the only thing worse than suffering is quitting.

We are all going to have to live with something.  At the end of it all, we all will have to live with the decisions that we have made.

Endurance, perseverance, and suffering are all common themes of the Bible.  I think that we can ask the same endurance questions of our spiritual lives that we do of athletes.

Why is it that some believers can endure extreme suffering, while other give up under much lesser circumstances?

Why is it that some believers can lose family members, be criticized, be challenged, see no results of their labors and yet, still keep going?

Why is it that some believers give up on serving when they fail to receive a thank you?

Allow me to be a bold enough to suggest something that none of us will care to admit.  The difference between these Christians is not God.  God does not give different pain thresholds to various believers.  We are all filled with the same Spirit.

There is a common Christian saying, “God will not give me more then I can endure.”  There even is a popular song on Christian radio with that theme.  I cringe every time I hear it because God will absolutely give you more that you can endure.  Joni Erickson Tada has written a wonderful book on suffering, A Place of Healing: Wrestling with the Mysteries of Suffering, Pain, and God’s Sovereignty.  She will attest to the fact that she has been given more than she can endure on her own.  I think that she puts this misconception of our human suffering capacity into perspective.  He will not give you a temptation greater than what you can resist but we will be called to endure more than we can take because that is when we rely upon him.  Our suffering is not about our capacity.  It is about His capacity and our reliance upon Him.  God will give me whatever is in His will to give me – He is sovereign.  It is not about what I can take but about what God is doing in his greater plan and in His on-going work of healing my heart.

This is where the rub comes in.  The governor of my spiritual suffering capacity (what I can take) is not God.  It is me.  Typically, we punch out long before we have to.  The reason I think that many of us “wimp out” when the going gets uncomfortable is because we don’t have a good vision of the end.  It is the same reason that I stop on my bike.  This is uncomfortable – I don’t care that much about my upcoming race – I am going to stop.  Many Christians don’t think about the end – times get uncomfortable and they seek the comfortable.

The Psalmist had this issue.  He was losing heart because the wicked were prospering.  He was wondering if all of this God stuff was really worth it.  He wanted what they had.  That was until he discerned their end. He understood that all the prosperity of the wicked was not worth it because of the judgment that they would face.

We all need a similar focus on the end – that is our goal.  There will be a day when we all will stand before our Savior – when we will fully see the glory of our Lord.  How do you think your suffering and discomfort will be compared to that?

“For I consider the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” (Romans 8:18)

On that day, I think that we will go, “I could have gone harder; I could have given more.”  My suffering was so worth this – my suffering does not even compare to this glory – I could have gone harder.

We need to adopt the attitude that the only thing worse than suffering is quitting.

On that day, I don’t want to be a quitter.

The Church is full of quitters.  People quit for all sorts of petty reasons.  People typically will punch out as soon as it gets a little hard, inconvenient, discouraging, confrontational, uncomfortable.  It doesn’t take much from our enemy to get most in the Church to give up on suffering the uncomfortable; it most often doesn’t even take the painful.

We all will endure the uncomfortable and the painful but enduring through it without quitting is optional.  Think about – we are encouraged to endure exactly because it is optional.  It is all in our heads; we have the same Spirit within us as those pillars of the faith that have gone before us. God will take us farther and longer than we can even imagine – we just need to be resolved not to punch out.

Go harder – we all can good harder – let’s endure to the end because it is going to be so worth it.

PRAYER: Father, I am such a wimp.  I have punched out way too many times.  I am weak.  I hate that.  Lord, give me the strength to endure well until the end.  Thank you for showing me glimpses of your glory.  Lord, I long to see the glory that you will reveal to us.  Forgive me for losing sight of that and focusing too much on this world.  Lift my eyes Lord; help be to keep the end continually in focus so that I will alway go harder after you and your kingdom.  Amen

%d bloggers like this: