Psalm 55

Cast your burden on the Lord,
and He will sustain you;
He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.
God, You will bring them down
to the Pit of destruction;
men of bloodshed and treachery
will not live out half their days.
But I will trust in You.

This Psalm is explained and its lessons addressed at Daily Tehillim: “. . .according to the Radak and other commentators, was composed during the rebellion mounted by Avshalom, David’s son.  Specifically, this prayer was written in response to the news that Ahitofel, David’s skilled and renowned advisor and strategist, had sided with Avshalom.  We read in the Book of Shemuel II (15:31) that upon hearing of Ahitofel’s support for Avshalom, David prayed, “Foil Ahitofel’s plan, O God!”  David was well aware of Ahitofel’s brilliance and experience in military strategy and thus realized Avshalom’s distinct advantage in this campaign.  It appears that Psalm 55 presents the complete version of the prayer David offered in response to Ahitofel’s siding with Avshalom, to which the verse in Shemuel II only very briefly alludes.

“Although David makes no explicit reference here to Avshalom or Ahitofel, speaking generally about the “enemy” and “wicked man” (verse 4), the context of this chapter can be inferred from a number of verses in which David describes his current plight.  Firstly, he speaks of the turmoil and chaos that has gripped the “city” (verses 10-12), which likely refers to David and his followers’ frantic departure from Jerusalem and Avshalom’s takeover of the capital city.  Even more revealingly, David describes his adversary as somebody who has not been his foe, as a person whom David had actually always admired, to whom he had looked for guidance, and with whom he would frequently confide (verses 13-15).  Later, he describes a person who betrays his comrades and speaks in false and deceitful flattery (verses 21-22).  These descriptions accurately portray Ahitofel, David’s longtime loyal advisor and confidant who has now committed himself to David’s destruction.

Israel-twr-005“This Psalm expresses the sense of fear, loneliness and dejection that results from being betrayed by one’s loyal peers.  Ahitofel’s betrayal leaves David in a state of such anxiety and disorientation that he wishes he could just fly like a bird to an uninhabited wilderness where he could seek refuge, as if entering an insulated building during a rainstorm (verses 7-9).  Having always depended upon Ahitofel’s wise counsel and guidance, David now feels particularly lost, vulnerable and powerless.

We all encounter situations where a condition to which we have grown accustomed suddenly changes, leaving us disoriented and with a feeling of lonely helplessness.  David here advises, “Cast your burden upon God, and he shall support you” (verse 23).  When left in a state of loneliness and vulnerability, a person must remember that the Almighty has not left him, and whatever basis for support that has been lost can be replaced by God Himself, who is capable of rescuing an individual from even the most difficult and seemingly insurmountable predicaments.” (emphasis added)

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Inner Struggles

Lately I’ve been in a Spiritual struggle. It isn’t an inner conflict, exactly.  It certainly is neither inner confusion nor a Spiritual battle. Actually, it is a pleasant struggle, like the playful wrestling around that two kids might do on the grass in the cool of the evening after a hot day.

It began innocently enough while reading the end of the ninth chapter of the Gospel of Matthew. I’m sure you’ve read it too. Y’shuaJesus opens the blind eyes of two men who’d followed along behind him crying out for mercy.

And their eyes were opened. And Jesus sternly warned them, “See that no one knows about it.” But they went away and spread his fame through all that district.

Did these to men sin when the spread the word about Y’shuaJesus’s healing of their eyes? Simple enough question. But, they’ve been blind. How are they suppose to keep people from knowing about it? They were, no doubt, led from home to wherever they hung out during the day to await someone’s kind handouts. Now they can walk home themselves. Is no one suppose to notice this?

The various commentaries were of no help; one said one thing, while another said something contrary. Did the men sin? If so, how exactly were they suppose to not sin? And why is this important? It’s not as if it’s a faith-breaking thing. This isn’t some Spiritual battle that means I’m in Spiritual hot water. It’s just a curious thing.

An acceptable answer came. I could say, “The Lord told me. . .” Or I could say, “The Lord put it in my heart. . .” Or I could simply say, “I was led to an acceptable answer.” How does the Lord speak with us? That’s the way the answer came to me.

Now this sort of back and forth tussle continued throughout last week and this weekend on different questions that seemed to arise. Some of the questions came as responses to previous ones. Others, it seemed, just sort of popped up seemingly out of now where. Not all were “solved,” as they seemed only to be things to be explored, at least for the moment. It’s been fun. It’s been relaxing. It’s been reassuring.

So, the two formerly blind men—Did they sin or not? First, just asking the question was important. Second, not having an answer was equally important. I asked a question and spent time with the Lord exploring. In the end, it turns out it wasn’t about whether or not the men sinned or not.

Just telling this account now reminds me of something I realize how much I miss. For many years, as an adult, I would spend Sunday afternoon with my parents at their home in California’s Central Coast. Year round the weather was pleasant. Dinner was always served at 6:30, and was the big weekly meal. Usually during the meal we would talk, and continue some discussion long after eating. Occasionally the discussions became a bit heated, as is natural, as we disagreed on something. I learned from those discussions so many things. Not just about my Father, and his views, but ways to see the world. With him I was free to express everything I might be thinking, and while we may seem to argue about something, and he may say, “You’re cuckoo, or something,” it wasn’t him being mean. He didn’t put be down for what I might say. When things did get heated, my Mother would say, “Turned out nice again!” It was her way of saying, “Okay, boys, enough is enough, give it a break.”

The last time I saw my Father alive, he could barely speak; the Parkinson’s Disease had so affected him. I last saw my Mother when we buried my Father in a National Cemetery not far from where I was born. A bugler played taps. A rifle squad fired a twenty-one rifle salute. As we said good-bye, she said with almost no Welsh accent left, “We did good, didn’t cry.” Then tears welt up in our eyes.

It wasn’t many months later that we spoke on the phone. She was not feeling well. Her doctor said it was the flu. As we hung up, she said, “I love you.” I said, “I love you.” It was something that had never happened before. That night she died of meningitis.

This past week has been with my Heavenly Father like those dinner conversations with my birth Father, who would have turned 94 this month.

One day we’ll all sit around a table and dine together at the Feast. What a glorious day that will be. And truly it will have “Turned out nice again.”

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“Hear my Singing, O G-d. Listen to my Prayer,” says King David

Hear my singing, O G-d,
listen to my prayer;
from the end of the earth I call to you
when my heart is faint.
Lead me to the rock
that is higher than I,
for you have been my refuge,
a strong tower against the enemy.
Let me dwell in your tent forever!
Let me take refuge under the shelter of your wings!
For you, O G-d, have heard my vows;
you have given me the heritage of those who fear your name.
Prolong the life of the king;
may his years endure to all generations!
May he be enthroned forever before G-d;
appoint steadfast love and faithfulness to watch over him!
So will I ever sing praises to your Name,
as I perform my vows day after day.
—Psalm 61

This brief psalm of King David “speaks of the sense of security that faith affords a person under any and all circumstances.  It reminds a person that wherever he finds himself on earth, and when he faces situations of uncertainty, he can turn to the Almighty in prayer and find comfort in the knowledge that the fate of all men rests in His hands.  As David declares in verse 3, God is capable of lifting a person to heights he never thought attainable; when challenges and hardships seem too difficult to surmount, one can turn to the Almighty and rely on His ability to lift him over even the most formidable obstacles.” —Daily Tehillim

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Lazy Hazy Days of Summer. . .

. . . NOT! Although our spring lasted well into June, with good rain and cool temperatures, that’s over now, and hot and humid by two o’clock in the afternoon is the order of things. While there’s been some storm clouds building late in the day, we’ve had only sprinkles this past week. But the mornings–those are wonderful. Cool, with minimal bugs, birds singing, frogs croaking. Pleasant!

Echinacia or Cone Flower, while there is no scientific evidence to show that echinacea will heal, Native Americans and even Elk have used it for its immunological properties. And we grow it for the same reasons!

In the garden all weekend, digging out more clay, replacing it with top soil, planting. We also began work on a second pond that is a few feet higher, up slope, from the one we dug last year. Water will pump out of the old pond into a stock tank that will filter the water, dumping it into the new pond. From there water will fall two-foot into the old pond. The building process begins with digging out very hard clay down nearly three feet on one end, and a bit under two feet on the other. A wall added to that side will raise it above the older pond. We have rubber liner that will hug the clay, sealing the pond. Once the new pond is filled with water, we’ll let it sit a day or so and move all the fish and plants into it from the old pond. A thorough cleaning of the old pond is next. Refilled with water, letting it sit to de-clorinate, then we can move some of the plants and fish back.

Another Pond
Beginning to build another pond.

We’re adding a new, larger pump to fill the stock tank we’ll use as a filter, providing water flow of about 3200 gallons an hour. The old pumps will be re-purposed into aerators for each pond that will bubble air into the water to help with algae control.

Most of the work is just plain hard labor of digging out the clay. The interesting part comes when cutting in the new pond, getting the water to flow the way we want, and arranging the plants.

But one step at a time. Like in all things, it all begins with the sweat and aching muscles of hard work.

Lord Bless, Keep, Shine upon you all.

The Lord will keep you from all evil;
He will keep your life.
The Lord will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time forth and forevermore
Psalm 121:7-8


Michael Connelly’s character, Detective Harry Bosch, continues to develop throughout the series, especially his mission. Early on in the series, Bosch says, “Everyone counts, or no one counts.” His investigations into the truth are important regardless if the murder victim is someone well known politically or socially, or an unknown street person. Bosch’s own life’s story comes into play here: his own mother, a woman of the night, was brutally murdered, the killer never found. Bosch’s life, then, becomes a crusade for truth that often pits him against people who’d just as well let the truth slide, covering up the death. Bosch’s clashes with superiors cause him to be suspended on occasion, and even be demoted in his position.

As Bosch’s character develops we learn different views of his mission. For instance, we learn that he is becoming a voice for the dead, the murdered, he investigates. Always present is that Bosch is constantly on the edge as he looks deeply into what he terms the abyss where the monsters of our society abide. There is danger in chasing monsters, for it is all to easily to become a monster while deluding himself that he is speaking for the murdered. So Bosch must maintain a high standard in his operating practices. The humanity of Bosch the hero is revealed when he breaks the rules, so to speak, and causes damage to himself as well as others. In one instance he is responsible for the death of a man simply by using that man’s name to get information he wanted but knew he was not authorized to obtain.

Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.

John 18:37

While the Character of Detective Harry Bosch does not believe in G-d, he does have one thing in common with those who do: his search for truth; his desire to truth be made known; and his battle against evil. For isn’t that precisely what our general mission is in our life here on Earth? Are we not to search diligently for truth? Are we not to make known that truth? Are we not constantly in a battle against evil?

Lord Bless, Keep, Shine. . .

More Thoughts on Basketball

Friday night’s basketball games were terrific. The girls went up against a team from Savannah, Georgia. Those girls came well prepared to win, and at one time in the game nearly took the lead. In the end, however, my daughter’s team prevailed with a fairly nice margin. It was the boys’ game in which the  score fluctuated rapidly from leading to trailing to leading. Back and forth like a tennis match it was. In the end, a three-point shot and and a lay-up into the bucket nailed it for the boys. Victory! Both the girls’ and boys’ basketball teams will compete Saturday in the state finals. This is a first for the high school. The boys and girls did a fabulous job.

And I found myself once again transfixed by the action. One thing I’d noted to myself before is the stance many of the girls use defending their goal. One girl in particular, on Friday night, really stuck out. As she approached an opponent who held the ball, she’d stand with a wide-footed stance, arms spread out from her body. Her eyes seemed to loose focus, her head and eyes pointed straight, but it was obvious to me she was looking left and right with her peripheral vision. Her head never moved. Her eyes never moved. She starred straight ahead glued to the ball, yet seemed to soak in all around her. As the girl with the ball moved, the defender moved along by shifting her entire body to follow the ball. It was really rather enchanting, like a snake following the charmers flute.

It occurred to me that with with our chief adversary, our opponent, running loose, we might well adopt a defensive basketball stance in that we need to be fully aware of our surroundings, of the situation in which we place ourselves each and every day. We fall when we act upon temptations. Better we are aware of them as they sneak upon us, and flee them before we are ensnared in them.

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.

1 Peter 5:8

Lord Bless, Keep, Shine. . .

Past Choices Revisited

Ever think about past choices? I admit that too often I do. What would have it been like had I made a different choice? I should have. . . I could have. . . But I didn’t.

Map of Six Rivers National Forest
Map of Six Rivers National Forest (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But what if I had, for instance, continued on with the U.S. Forest Service. I was a Forest Electronics Technician on the Lassan National Forest. The main office was located in Susanville, California. It was an interesting place, to say the least. I’d been there only once, passing through, before I accepted that position. I remember very well, as I passed through I said “I sure would never go to this forest.” Well, G-d does have a sense of humor, (Never say Never) and led me there anyway. I met some wonderful people, worked with a terrific bunch of guys, and thoroughly enjoyed myself. Yet I missed the ocean, which I’d nearly always lived near. But after a few more years perhaps I’d have been selected for a Forest Electronics Engineer position on the Six Rivers National Forest in Eureka, California. That would have been so perfect. I did, in fact, live near there a few years later, after leaving the Forest Service. I attended Humboldt State University, in Arcata, a few miles north of Eureka. The whole area is gorgeous. Its where the redwood forest meets the Pacific Ocean. The average temperature is about 70 degrees (21 celcius), with highs and lows within ten degrees. It had its down sides, for some people: The bright California sun almost never shone; it was cloud cover most of the time. Coastal after all. Some people found it unbearable and fled after less than a year living there. But I loved it.

English: This is Juniper Hall at Humboldt Stat...
Juniper Hall at Humboldt State University. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When I’m really tired of the traffic around the area in which I now reside, I think of Arcata. I can see the redwoods and smell the ocean. I remember various choices I’ve made, looking at them as if they might not have been such good choices. Thinking about past choices as wrong ones comes doesn’t come just from frustration with the place I am suppose to call home at the moment. Such times come upon me when I feel poorly about what I’m currently doing, what I’m not doing, or times when I just don’t feel good about myself.

Others have experience trying times and must have known it was their choices that led them. Paul, for instance. Things weren’t going too well in Rome for the Apostle Paul. In what we know as the fourth chapter of Paul’s second letter to Timothy (2 Timothy), Paul says he’d been left during his defense, and requests Timothy to come to him, bringing along Mark, and some things he’d left behind, like a cloak. He was writing from prison, which must have been cold. So Paul is alone in prison. But remember, Paul wanted to come to Rome. He’d said as much as he journeyed toward Jerusalem. He’d even been warned of problems in Jerusalem, and kept right on going up to Jerusalem, into danger. And in the following passage, we see just how Paul got to Rome:

And Agrippa said to Festus, “This man could have been set free if he had not appealed to Caesar.

Acts 26:32

We don’t read of Paul whining about being in prison. We don’t hear that he mourned the days he roamed around Asia freely preaching the Gospel to the Gentiles. No. Paul went to Rome to testify the The Faith before the Emperor, and to all Rome. Along the way he preached to everyone from prisoners to government officials, soldiers, and even the king. He preached to the inhabitants of a small island upon which he was ship wrecked. He preached to the Roman Believers.

Paul knew his life was not his, but his was to live as Messiah, to do the will of Messiah, free or in chains.

When I come to my senses and stop whining and feeling sorry for myself, I can appreciate that which the Lord has allowed me to do on the way to where I now reside, not in spite of bad choices, but because the choices, as difficult as they were, were the right choice to have made. And these times lead to other times ahead.

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:28

Lord Bless, Keep, Shine. . .

The Christian Box – Part Two

If the Earth were a giant caldron, our Lord Y’shuaJesus came to make sure it was well stirred. Take a look at the following selection from The Book of John.

One man was there who had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, and while I am going another steps down before me.” Jesus said to him, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk.” And at once the man was healed, and he took up his bed and walked. Now that day was the Sabbath. So the Jews said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath, and it is not lawful for you to take up your bed.”

John 5:5-10

Invalid at the wall
Jerusalem Old City, Israel
Photo by Wil Robinson

This invalid spent thirty-eight years waiting to be helped to the healing waters. Lord Y’shuaJesus comes along and says, in essence, “If you want to be healed, break the rules of the Sabbath that say you can’t carry any load.” What would you do? Would you refuse, because you follow the rules? Would you question the Lord, try to find out why you were to break the rules of the Sabbath?

G-d made the Sabbath rules in the first place (Jer_17:21; Neh_13:15; Exo_20:8-10). Why did Y’shuaJesus command the invalid to break them then? “It may be answered, wrote Albert Barnes (1798-1870):

“1. That the Son of man was Lord of the Sabbath, and had a right to declare what MIGHT be done, and even to dispense with a POSITIVE law of the Jews, Mat_12:8; Joh_5:17.
“2. This was a poor man, and Jesus directed him to secure his property.
“3. The Jews extended the obligation of the Sabbath beyond what was intended by the appointment. They observed it superstitiously, and Jesus took every opportunity to convince them of their error, and to restore the day to its proper observance, Mat_12:6-11; Luk_6:9; Luk_13:14; Luk_14:5. This method he took to show them what the law of God really “permitted” on that day, and that works of necessity and mercy were lawful.”

The religious community got it wrong. Lord Y’shuaJesus made the rules, and set about trying to show people there is some depth to them, some principles behind them.

Lord Bless, Keep, Shine. . .

The Christian Box

Is is just me, or do you feel as though we, as Christians, are placed into a particularly small box, confined to a narrow set of behaviors considered “Christian”? Take the following scripture and Matthew Henry’s own comments on it as an example of how it all starts.

Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.

2 Timothy 2:23-26

Matthew Henry commented: “The servant of the Lord must not strive, 2Ti_2:24. Nothing worse becomes the servant of the Lord Jesus, who himself did not strive nor cry (Mat_12:19), but was a pattern of meekness, and mildness, and gentleness to all, than strife and contention. The servant of the Lord must be gentle to all men, and thereby show that he is himself subject to the commanding power of that holy religion which he is employed in preaching and propagating. – Apt to teach. Those are unapt to teach who are apt to strive, and are fierce and froward. Ministers must be patient, bearing with evil, and in meekness instructing (2Ti_2:25) not only those who subject themselves, but those who oppose themselves.”

My dispute with Mr. Henry isn’t that we, as followers of Y’shuaJesus, are not encouraged to not stir up strife. And, certainly, it behooves us to be considerate in all our dealings with all people. No, my dispute is that this places us into a small, confining box. By this commentary upon the Words of G-d, we are confined to fulfilling only one roll, utilizing one tool, in our daily living.

Let’s take a look at our example of what a true believer is to be. Let’s look at Y’shuaJesus as he appears to his disciples.

And the Jews’ passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem, And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting: And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew the tables; And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise. And his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up.

John 2:13-17

In the English Standard Bible Version, verse 17 concludes with “Zeal for your house will consume me.” This public display certainly shocked the disciples who had been with Y’shuaJesus for some time. Those disciples saw his first miracle, at the wedding where He turned water into wine. These disciples had seen His gentle ways, His meekness. Now these disciples witnessed the first public display of our Lord Y’shuaJesus. What part of gentle, meek, and mild is that display? What do we learn from it? We learn that “Zeal for your house will consume me.”

Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?
And [Y’shuaJesus] said to him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.

Matthew 22:36,37

Lord Bless, Keep, Shine. . .

American Election Day

English: A round bale of hay with a flag of th...
A round bale of hay with a flag of the United State of America on display for the 2008 presidential election on New Hope Church Road (Highway 1723) . Note the solar panel and spot light set up to illuminate the display at night. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today is America’s Election Day. For months now candidates have made great efforts to gather support, thereby enough votes. As this day approached, a lot of people speculated who would be the next president of the United States. Yet, American voters, according to a variety of polls, are evenly split between the incumbent president and his primary rival as we go to the voting polls.I read an article that outlined what to look for today as the voting progressed. We can predict the outcome early. We seem to want to know, now, and not wait. Oh, well, that’s not really unusual; we want to know what’s going to happen. Then thing we need to remember is that we just don’t want to take it too far, like King Saul did.

“When Saul saw the army of the Philistines, he was afraid, and his heart trembled greatly. And when Saul inquired of the LORD, the LORD did not answer him, either by dreamsor by Urim or by the prophets. Then Saul said to his servants, “Find me a woman who is a medium, that I may go to her and inquire of her.”

1Samuel 28:5-9, 11-19, NKJV

King Saul inquired of the Lord. Then, not hearing an answer, inquired of a witch. Not a good thing to do. While I’ve never inquired of a witch, that I know of, I know that I’ve prayed about something and before hearing an answer, gone off and mentioned something to someone, who wainting to be helpful, gave me some answers that I acted upon. Later I wondered if I’d done the right thing.

Learning to wait. Wait upon the Lord. Let Him bring answers to us as He desires.

This pray comes to mind today again. “. . .Lord direct your hearts into the love of G-d, and into the patient waiting of Messiah.” [2Thess 3:5] Also, Lord Y’shuaJesus Bless you, Keep you, and Shine upon you always.