September 30, 2011

The Worth of Words

I’m noticing in my reading this week the dramatic effect that words can have, depending on their source. The contrast is clear in two instances recorded in II Samuel 20.

First, “There happened to be there a worthless man… And he blew the trumpet and said…” People followed him, as people will, and soon a whole city was at risk of destruction for harboring him.

In contrast, was a wise woman who said: “Come here, that I may speak to you…Listen…” and by her wise advice destruction was averted; the whole city was saved. This woman impresses me. She saw what was coming and used words of wisdom directed to the right people to bring a halt to the impending plan of destruction. You can read the details of the account for yourself, but the principle catches my attention—the impact of words, wise or worthless.

Moses’ story continues to intrigue me. He was a model of meekness--at least once the Lord got through with him (Num.12:3). When he hesitated to say ‘yes’ to God’s assignment for him, God questioned him: Moses, who made your mouth? “Is it not I, the Lord? therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak. And when Aaron had to be conscripted to help, God promised to be with both their mouths and teach them both what to do.

Moses’ words seemed to go unheeded and yet they were God’s assignment for him: “Let my people go” was his slogan, though ignored. God backed up his words with His own display of power and eventually broke through Pharaoh’s resistance and the deed was accomplished. The children of Israel were shooed on their way with plunder besides! But first there were the words, wise God-given words.

Those are the kind I need.

No use talking, arguing, trying to persuade or influence without my words being God-ordained. I like David’s last words; that ‘sweet psalmist of Israel’ , in II Sam.23, attributes to God his good words: "The Spirit of the LORD spoke by me, And His word was on my tongue.” Isaiah did likewise: The Lord GOD has given Me the tongue of disciples, That I may know how to sustain the weary one with a word. He awakens Me morning by morning, He awakens My ear to listen as a disciple. (Is.50:4) This is what I want to be true of me!

I have no great testimonial to the effectiveness of my words this week. Mostly I’m at a loss to know what to say. What do you say to your mom when her best beloved of over 50 years is fast losing his mind and is unreceptive to her best efforts to take care of him?…when your efforts to take care of her are perceived as threats to the only way of life she can conceive of… what do you say? Is “I love you, I really do” enough?

Wise words don’t just materialize out of nowhere. James describes the kind of heart that births them—one that is meek and ‘easy to be entreated’, gentle and merciful…(3:17), one that asks with confidence for the wisdom needed and harbors no doubt or unbelief that God will give what’s needed (1:5-8). That’s the kind of heart I want. I don’t wish to come to the end of my days defensive and unreasonable, stubborn and unmanageable to my own detriment. Am I cultivating traits I want to have when my defenses are down and my mind a haze? What will bubble up then--the wise or the worthless?


Lord, teach me to number my days that I may gain a heart of wisdom. (Ps.90:12)

September 22, 2011

The God who is and was and is to come…

Sometimes you become the answer to your own prayers…It was this way for Moses I guess.  One fine afternoon on the backside of nowhere he gets a call, “Moses, Moses!”

“Here I am”, he says. And the next thing you know God is saying, actually what matters is that “I AM” here.
I’ve seen my people’s afflictions.
I’ve heard their cries.
I know how they’re suffering.
I’ve come down to deliver them…
Now you come, I'll send you to do the job.


OK, so Moses has to get involved, tongue-tied and disabled though he perceive himself to be, HE’s the man for the job…

I’m feeling a little like that today.  The call came a couple days ago.  I’ve got the plane tickets.  The suitcases are standing at attention waiting for me to make up my mind about a multitude of details.  I woke up a little early this morning and my mind started whirring restlessly.  So I got up and sat here pouring over some names of God, looking for one to be just the one I need to hang onto for this journey.

My dad’s an increasingly unmanageable patient these days with a lone caregiver (my mom) who is increasingly frazzled and stretched beyond capacity…something has to be done.  The Lord has seen their affliction, heard their cries, and is well-acquainted with their suffering… I have prayed.  And now am being asked to step into the picture with my very own skin, to get involved in the answer to my prayers. Who am I for such a task?  How am I going to do any good?

To keep anxious thoughts and ad nauseum pending decisions at bay this morning, I filtered through the names of God looking for one that might grab me and hold me tight as I pack and as I go*…Which of God’s many names is custom-fitted for my situation?

What am I in need of?  El Shaddai (God Almighty) ought to cover it…or The Lord my Shepherd (Jehovah Ra-ah)…These are so familiar.  My heart felt kind of numbed with doubt though…so I kept on…  The Lord my Confidence (Yahweh Kesel) caught my eye. Yes! this confidence that gives strength to internal muscles, this confidence.  Yes, I need that: “for the Lord will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being caught.” (Pr.3:26) That sounds good. 

Jehovah Shalom (The Lord my peace).  Yes, I need that too.  “Thou wilt keep Him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee”  would come to mind later in the day as I was out walking...
An unfamiliar name rang sweetly:  Jehovah Shamah.  This is the name given to the new Jerusalem as the book of Ezekiel closes out.  It means “The Lord is There”.  Yes, that’s all I really need, to know the Lord is there too, not only here with me on my cozy turf, but there also where I go, to face the unknown with confidence and grace.

But ya’ know, when God spoke through Moses to His people, the two names He chose were these: “I AM who I AM”,  and “Yahweh, the God of your fathers”.  This was His covenant name, the one He wanted them to remember ‘throughout all generations’ (Ex.3:15). He is my father’s God too, the one that has held his hand through all the years and the one that holds mine now, the great I AM.

Incidentally, I was looking yesterday at Jesus own I AM’s…the same words are translated “It is I”.  “It is I, be not afraid”-- “I AM, be not afraid”(Mt.14:27).  Isn’t that it?  Because He is, I need not be afraid.  All that’s left is to believe on the One that God has sent, not merely to save me and take me to Heaven, but to be with me in the meantime.  This is the real work I’m called to, to believe, and keep believing in the God who is.  And I’m back at the burning bush hearing God’s response to Moses’ “Who am I that I should go…”.   and God saying, “but I will be with you…” 
Grace to you and peace from Him who is and who was and who is to come… Rev.1:4

*I was gleaning some of these names from Knowing God by Name by Mary A. Kassian—a women’s Bible study book.

September 16, 2011

Did you enjoy the fajita?

Arguing with my heart today…I read a sweet little book this past while—an allegory written to show the heart of God for his little orphans.  A line stood out to me, made my heart jump in eagerness for it to be true.  The character representing Jesus had just shared little Willie Juan’s lunch with him, consuming it with obvious relish and attention even though it was but a humble home-made fajita.  The line was this:

“When you get to heaven, Little Friend, which is where I live, Abba will not ask you how many prayers you said or how many souls you saved. No, he’ll ask, ‘Did you enjoy the fajita?’ He wants you to live with passion, in the beauty of the moment, accepting and enjoying his gifts.” (Patched Together—Manning,60)

I like that.

But that’s not the sole criteria for accepting such a statement as true.  What of the ‘judgment seat of Christ’?  the giving an account for every idle word? the “What have you done with your few minas—how did you invest them?”

This sort of welcoming Father’s heart that just sweeps me up in arms and enjoys what I have to share is SO much more inviting than my own imagined version of a reserved conditional sort of welcome…or a rewards ceremony where I sit it out in the bleachers just glad to have made it to the event!

Can it be supported in Scripture? 

I waver between basking in God’s pleasure despite my shortcomings and taking serious stock of my situation and wondering if I’m fooling myself to assume He’s entirely pleased.  I don’t really want to think about it, but if my love of God is shown in love for my neighbors… well, these are concrete persons living beside me.  This is a measurable sort of love.  Do I love my neighbors in the same quality and quantity as I love myself?  (grimace)  And if not, hmmm…Will I just get a sympathetic  pat on the head and a ‘nevermind what I asked of you.’  What’s that verse about ‘trembling at His Word’? But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word. (Is.66:2) 

Oh, I’m eager to listen for His voice, but honestly, I want to hear good stuff—something congratulatory, comforting… Instruction too is ok if it’s not anything too challenging, too scary, too far from my comfort zone. 

And what of this business of reveling in blessings but being loathe to pass them on?  Enjoying ‘the fajita’, so to speak, but not wanting to share it for fear it will all get eaten and I’ll go hungry, or for fear the sharee won’t like it...  Is this why gratitude seems hardly a sufficient response to so much goodness dished out on my behalf?  I’m pretty good at receiving, not nearly so good at generosity…

‘Between the time a gift comes to us and the time we pass it along, we suffer gratitude.’—Lewis Hyde

And so goes my heart-to-mind talk with myself. Ha!  I was reading this morning in a little book on spiritual practices for the modern pilgrim.*  The author referred to “the athlete view of spiritual life” as opposed to a more receptive, less ‘disciplined’ view, where my job is to make space, to be receptive for the Spirit to work.  Interesting concept.  I obviously tend to be the ‘athlete’, at least in my mind!  Try a little harder, pen more lists, spend more time…But it does seem that when I get all through with my mental strivings, or maybe smack dab in the middle of them, when I least expect it, God speaks to my heart precisely what I most need to hear.

It was like that this morning.  I was digging into a  couple phrases that caught my attention from II Samuel 13.  The passage reads like a soap opera.  David’s reigning as king now but on the domestic front things are a mess!  It seems his own sins have come to nest in his children’s lives. David’s firstborn rapes his own half-sister.  Then after scheming for two years her own blood brother avenges her shame (and sets himself up to be heir to the throne?)  by murdering David’s first-born.  And twice in this passage you read the words: “Don’t take it to heart.”  Once addressed to the sister who’s just been violated and will now hide in shame for the duration of her life.  Once addressed to David whose beloved son has just murdered his firstborn son!  “Don’t take it to heart” !!! How does that work?

Oh, and the beautiful girl whose life is left in shambles is told to ‘hold your peace’.  Really?  This hardly seems like an appropriate response.  So I went looking at these two phrases throughout Scripture. [Incidentally, is a SUPER resource for such studies.  Try it out sometime!]   There are things that should and things that should not be ‘taken to heart’.  As the source of the ‘springs of life’ the heart has got to be guarded with discrimination. (Prov.4:23) 

For instance, Moses warns the Israelites to remember who their God is so they don’t go chasing idols: “Know therefore today, and take it to your heart, that the LORD is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other.” (Deut.4:39)

But Pharaoh, when he should take to heart the plagues as signs of the one true God, refuses to do so and instead hardens his heart. (Ex.7:23)

I won’t take your through all my rich gleanings... but what are the things I take to heart when in fact only what God says deserves to hold sway there?  Reminds me of something Brennan Manning said in that sweet little book I mentioned earlier:

Live like the beloved of Abba…Your courage in living as Abba’s beloved can give others the strength to do the same. For in the end only one thing remains—Abba’s love… Define yourself as one beloved by God.” (124)

Which brings us back to my mind and my heart arguing…ah, and that other word study: “Hold your peace.” Now this was interesting.  Definitely a range of reasons to hold your peace and definite occasions not to!  Queen Esther on the one hand was brought to her position for ‘just such a time as this’ and strongly encouraged not to ‘hold her peace’ lest she and her family be destroyed (Esther 4:14).  But there are times when the fight is the Lord’s and our job is to ‘hold your peace’. (Ex.14:14)

Okay, so I’m buzzing along through all these references to  charash, the Hebrew verb meaning: hold your peace, be silent, be dumb, be speechless, be deaf…keep quiet, and I’m loving it. ( I love words in their settings and all the nuances of written language! And when their God’s words, it’s even better!) And then I come to God’s answer for my restless debate between heart and mind.  For there is a verse that refers to God holding His peace, God choosing silence as the best expression of His love.  I have read it many times before,  (Oh that reading were believing!) and various translations render it in different ways. 

But Zephaniah 3:17 describes God as resting (being silent, speechless, quiet) in His love for His beloved.  First He is described as being ‘mighty in your midst’ and as One who saves.  Yes, He’s a powerful God and Saviour.  He’s described as ‘rejoicing over thee with joy’.  Yes, there is an exuberance too.  And He’s even said to sing over His beloved.  But in the middle is this resting, this silent love. “He will rest in his love.”  He isn’t hung up with all the objections that hold me back from believing His love could cover my multitude of sins.  He just loves.  This is a silent joy in ‘the possession of the object of one’s love, too great for words to express’(J,F, & B commentary).  It is perhaps like the rest of silent satisfaction after the six days of creation, when God looked and ‘behold it was very good’.

As Matthew Henry puts it, “The great God not only loves his saints, but he loves to love them."  Song of Solomon, if we can take it as a figure of Christ and the Church, implies that we captivate God’s heart. “You have captivated my heart, my sister, my bride; you have captivated my heart with one glance of your eyes…” (SofS 4:9) 

As heirs with Israel of God’s grace we are destined to be “a crown of beauty in the hand of the LORD, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God…and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you.” (Is.62:3,5)  There is not a lot of room for argument here.  We are objects of an incredible and very personal love.  And I suspect that as we come to live in our true identity as ones well loved, the obedience that seems so scary will begin to flow quite naturally from our well-nourished hearts, constrained by such a great love, to do anything desired by the Lover.

I give thanks, O LORD, with my whole heart; before the gods I sing your praise…for your steadfast love and your faithfulness, for you have exalted above all things your name and your word. (Ps.138:1,2)

So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.
(I Jn.4:16)

Whew! If you got to the end of that you’re a wonder.  Bless you and be sure to enjoy the fajita!


“The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever.  Do not forsake the work of your hands.” –Ps.138:8

P.S. A brief review of Patched Together by Brennan Manning is posted at:


*God in the Yard: Spiritual Practice for the rest of us--Barkat, p.41ff

September 9, 2011

What was it Like?

Do you remember when you became a Christian? Can you tell in a single sentence what it was like? It seemed a simple enough question to pose to a congregation of believers. But when individuals were pointed out to give an answer, my mind went scrambling for words. What was it like?

I’ve always considered my ‘testimony’ to be a rather boring thing, lacking the before’s and after’s of more dramatic accounts of meeting Jesus. In fact, my memory serves me so sketchily that I have few particulars of the occasion. Perhaps that’s why I am an inveterate journal keeper. I have boxes of assorted journals, mostly informal spiral bound versions, but way back in the beginning, there was a little black “One-Year Diary” with a little latch and a key. That was the first one. I guess I was about 10 then. And that’s the one I cannot find today. It’s the one I hoped would say what it was like when I prayed to ask Jesus into my heart. I know where it’s supposed to be. Its green twin from 1974 used to lie with it. But now just the green one is at hand. It talks of puppies and riding bikes, of picking strawberries and going to Girl Scouts…And laced throughout are mentions of reading my Bible…when I got up, when I was afraid after watching a movie, and when I was trying to ‘catch up’ with my OneYearReadThru plan… I was twelve then, growing up in a sheltered Christian community, Christian school, close-knit church, Christian parents and grandparents and cousins, aunts and uncles…What was it like in this context to ‘become a Christian’? I feel as though I’ve been one all my life.

But there was an evening at the altar one balmy summer’s night… It was ‘Campmeeting’ week. Nightly services for the faithful. Lots of hymn singing. Exuberant marching around the pews sometimes-- exulting in prospects like ‘Beulah Land’ and ‘marching on to glory with the faithful few’. Energetic preaching and always an altar call. Those were the days of real ‘altars’, well, long wooden backless benches up front where people knelt in rows to pray aloud after the service. And that’s where I ended up one such night with my two childhood friends, twins I’d known since Kindergarten. An old saint of a lady named Mrs. Wolfram knelt beside me and asked me if I’d ever asked Jesus to be my Saviour? I don’t remember just what she said, only the sense that Jesus had died for me personally and I could personally acknowledge this and he would be my Saviour.

Now I look back and wonder what I really acknowledged that night. Did I understand all the implications of depravity and repentance, of humility and grace? I doubt it. I was good little Lindy, the quiet pupil with straight A’s and little to add to the report card but “Linda needs to speak up in class.” I was a pleaser belonging to a community that excelled in measuring goodness by conformity to certain standards. Praying at the altar was the right thing to do. Asking Jesus into my heart was the obvious thing required of me in this setting. And that night I was ‘saved’ along with my friends who said their prayers somewhere along that bench. What was it like? Was I filled with rapturous wonder? Was I ecstatic? Was I transformed from that moment on? Thinking back I only remember being happy. My outgoing friends were more demonstratively so. We celebrated by running outside in the summer darkness to share our joy.

I woke up this morning with an old Sunday School song in my heart: “Happiness is…”  Do you know it?   It goes like this:

[Press CTRL and click to listen] [or, for the happy wordless version listen here.]

Happiness is to know the Savior,
Living a life within His favor,
Having a change in my behavior,
Happiness is the Lord.

Happiness is a new creation,
Jesus and me in close relation,
Having a part in His salvation,
Happiness is the Lord.

Happiness is to be forgiven,
Living a life that's worth the livin',
Taking a trip that leads to Heaven,
Happiness is the Lord.

Real joy is mine,
No matter if the teardrops start,
I've found the secret,
It's Jesus in my heart.

And that makes a pretty good summary of my own testimony. A simple one, more of a continuation in the path I’d been born into really. Not remarkable in most respects and yet… When I consider this God who humbly accepts such a child’s prayer, when she in all likelihood doesn’t comprehend His glory or her need... Who chooses her to have a heritage of believers preceding her and surrounding her…Who preserves her from being tempted or drawn into a world of sins she never samples…Who bears with her in her prideful self-righteousness, her silly legalisms, her deficient capacity to love well…When I consider this God inviting me to know Him and waiting as I grow into what that means… I see a remarkable story in the simplest of testimonies.

Later I would question my salvation when I compared my ho-hum existence to the enthusiastic inner joy and unconcealable delight my best friend found when she asked Jesus into her heart one night at Youth Group. What did she see that I’d missed? Every morning she’d bring to school a little snippet of paper with a verse on it that thrilled her, in hopes that we could exchange verses. Her enthusiasm was contagious. I prayed privately just case I’d missed something the first time around welcoming Jesus to re-ignite the joy of my salvation and was soon just as ‘fired up’ about the Word as she was. I look back now and see her friendship as His mercy, drawing me back to my first love

There were other strategic moments, quiet transactions with this God who was for me a wonderful shepherd. He met me in my insecure shyness and brought me gently along, to trust Him, to commit my days to Him as His bondservant, to do things I can only look back at now in wonder at what this quiet least-likely-to-leave-home girl would do with such abandon. Who’d ever heard of Alberta, Canada? How did I end up there for my last year of highschool, leaving the classmates I’d spent over a decade with, leaving family and beloved woods and sheltering church community…confidently following my Shepherd? This too is my testimony.

It’s a quiet one of circumstances woven to shape my life despite my inherent foibles. Of the Spirit bearing witness with my spirit that I am His child. And always, of this Shepherd drawing me to know how much He loves and forming in me a heart to love Him more. I haven’t had dramatic experiences, terrific revelations, or awesome visions. His Spirit moves quietly and unseen. I see my testimony in Peter’s words:

“Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” I Pet.1:8,9

And my mind scrambling to compose a succinct testimony to describe ‘What was it like’  is calmed and settled. This joy of being personally related to the One who knows me most and loves me best is inexpressiblenot meant to be circumscribed entirely with words and passed around like the latest news. It is not the ‘feeling’ of the moment that counts, but the long getting to know my first and best True Love. As the service ended that day, this song played and sang for me my heart’s own song:

“First Love”

[I highly commend it to you for a listen. May your heart sing along.]

Although I am changing You’re unchangeable oh God

You will be my first love, be my first love

And for all the changes that You lead me through oh God

You will be my first love, be my first love

Every morning when the sun comes up

And every evening when the day is done

You will be my first love, be my first love

Even when You fill my heart’s desires

Even when You are consuming fire

You will be my first love, be my first love

Although I am shaken, You’re unshakable, oh God

You will be my first love, be my first love

So let my idols crumble You’re unshakable oh God

You will be my first love, be my first love

May every day and every way I live bring glory to You Lord. (x3)

Be my first love. –Jeremy Horn


“Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears  we shall be like him, because we shall see him as He is.” (I Jn. 3:2)

May every day and every way I live bring glory to You Lord,


September 1, 2011

Something Good

Do you remember that song Julie Andrews sings in The Sound of Music? She can’t believe her good fortune in being loved by the wonderful ‘Captain’ so as they stand in a leafy arbor one evening she sings this sweet romantic song with him:

Perhaps I had a wicked childhood
Perhaps I had a miserable youth
But somewhere in my wicked, miserable past
There must have been a moment of truth

For here you are, standing there, loving me
Whether or not you should
So somewhere in my youth or childhood
I must have done something good

Nothing comes from nothing
Nothing ever could
So somewhere in my youth or childhood
I must have done something good
--“Something Good” from The Sound of Music

[For the audio, and decidedly romantic clip, press CTRL and click here]

Sweet and romantic, but an altogether erroneous conclusion! I’ve been thinking along these lines this week—due to the incredibly delightful ‘fitness vacation’ I’ve just been treated to with my best friend, coach and lover. (See: “Tandem Treat” at Sketches from Skeltons) What do we conclude when our lives overflow with blessing, when all seems sweet, when our health is good and we are strong? Why should we enjoy peace and prosperity, go camping for fun not out of necessity, live in comfort and safety…What is my response? I want it to be purely one of humble gratitude, like David’s:

"Who am I, O Lord GOD, and what is my house, that you have brought me thus far?” (II Sam.7:18), knowing that this is the grace of God for this season of my life. Maybe things will be different tomorrow. Will I still be grateful? Will it mean I’ve done something bad?!

But I hear a murmur of this tune—“I must have done something good”-- lurking in that part of me that wants to pat itself on the back, as if I deserved this, had it coming somehow. That’s nothing but raw pride, the energy of the flesh trying to claim some glory for itself. Not because of anything in me have I been so blessed. There’s something humbling about grace when you think about it. It’s freely given, can’t be earned, isn’t deserved, doesn’t have to continue, is entirely unrelated to merit. We are at the mercy of God’s grace. We are not in charge, not able to earn anything or guarantee one iota of ‘feeling good’ for tomorrow! A gratitude that gives Him all the glory is a humbly dependent thing. It is ok with whatever is given, trusting that He is good and His grace sufficient when life doesn’t feel good anymore.

Having just finished reading I Samuel, I’m intrigued with David’s life. At last Saul is dead, no longer able to impede David’s rise to the throne for which God appointed him. In all the conflict, all the running for his life, he has preserved respect for Saul as God’s anointed and refused to play a part in taking his life, though he had ample opportunity. He waited, humbly, for God to move on his behalf. And now, his time has come.

And what does he say?

“The Lord has rewarded me according to my righteousness… “ (Ps.18:24)

What?! That sounds just a tad arrogant, doesn’t it? I’ve always thought so. But with a closer look at David’s life, it’s obvious who he considers the source of his righteousness, his integrity, his strength, his everything. First he credits God’s rules with being his guiding principles. Then he goes on to attribute to God his security, his ability in war, his salvation, and his greatness… “I love you, O LORD my strength...For who is God, but the LORD? And who is a rock, except our God?—the God who equipped me with strength and made my way blameless. Your gentleness made me great.” (18:31,32,35) There is no arrogance here.

David’s attitude is made clear in the incident with Nabal and Abigail, where David was bent on vengeance against the wicked fool who denied him and his men any reward for their guardian services. As he’s marching on his self-righteous way to take revenge, Abigail meets him and persuades him to let the Lord defend his cause and spare himself “cause for grief or pangs of conscience for having shed blood without cause”. His integrity is preserved intact and he gives the credit to God:

“Blessed by the Lord…who sent you this day to meet me! The Lord…who has restrained me from hurting you…Blessed be the Lord who has…kept back his servant from wrongdoing.
(I Sam.25:32ff)

Arguably, there is great reward for the one who follows God’s principles. Staying married to one’s spouse through thick and thin does have a pay-back, for instance. As does ‘buffeting one’s body’ so that it can go on a splendid ‘fitness vacation’! God is after all the creator and He has established the ‘design specifications’ for mankind. This is how life will work best. David repeatedly acknowledges the value of God’s law: Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward. (Ps.19:11) But at the same time, he reiterates his dependence on God to enable him to walk in God’s ways:

Who can discern his errors?
Declare me innocent from hidden faults.
Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins;
let them not have dominion over me! (Ps.19:12,13)

So yes, God blesses those who walk by His directions, but no, there is no credit to be taken, only given to God for His love and mercy. Is this why we’re taught to pray: “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” We need the help! And who knows how often a ‘way of escape’ has been made for us that we were not even aware of. God is faithful to protect us in temptation (I Cor. 10:13) He is after all FOR US! He has an agenda for us, his ‘treasured possession’. We see it in the covenant with Israel:

For you are a people holy to the LORD your God, and the LORD has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. (Deut.14:2) His intention is to set them “in praise and in fame and in honor high above all nations that he has made, and that you shall be a people holy to the LORD your God, as he promised." (Deut.26:19) Israel stood out among the nations by virtue of God’s blessings on them. Not for any virtue of their own. They were to be a reference point for the nations around them to sit up and take notice that Israel’s God was AWESOME (in the truest sense of the word) and GOOD. Isn’t that what our lives should say? After all He’s the one who’s done something good! In us. Through us.

Seems we aren’t the only generation to get that confused. Way back in the day when God gave the land of Canaan to His kids he warned them about getting so comfy and cocky that they started thinking they must have done something good: “Do not say in your heart… ‘It is because of my righteousness that the LORD has brought me in to possess the land’…for you are a stubborn people.” (Deut.9:4,6) A little history lesson follows just case they needed to hear some specifics. Humbling. They are reminded that God set his love upon them for no merit of their own. And lest they start thinking there own power and might has gotten them to this place Moses reminds them it is God who in fact gives them power to get wealth! (Deut.8:18)

So what is my response to all the blessings, seen and unseen, felt and not felt, that are poured on my life from moment to moment?

Perhaps I can stand in my leafy arbor, this home He’s provided, and sing to Him…
“For here you are, standing there, loving me / Whether or not you should…”
And it’s only because You’re good!

Bless the Lord, o my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name!


For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks and of water, of fountains and springs, flowing out in the valleys and hills, a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates…a land in which you will eat bread without scarcity, in which you will lack nothing, …and you shall eat and be full, and you shall bless the LORD your God for the good land he has given you. (Deut.8:7-10)


“But I am like a green olive tree in the house of God.
I trust in the steadfast love of God forever and ever.
I will thank you forever, because you have done it.
I will wait for your name, for it is good…”