Category: light for my path (page 1 of 51)

Ponderings based on intentional study of God’s Word.
Psalm 119:105 “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.”

How can we bless God?

What does it mean to praise God?

“Praise” is a common word in the church world. At this point in my life, it is a word heavy with the baggage of the last fifteen years of my experiences.

Praise the Lord, my soul;
    all my inmost being, praise his holy name. – Psalm 103:1 (NIV)

On some days, it enters my mind with pleasant memories of mountaintop worship experiences. Other days it comes in quietly, unnoticed in its ordinariness. Still other days, it crashes through with questions about what kind of egotistical God demands adoration from His people.

psalm 103

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
    and all that is within me,
    bless his holy name! – Psalm 103:1 (ESV)

What does it mean to bless God?

For me, “bless” is a lighter word than “praise.” One of the main things it comes with is a question: how can we bless God? Isn’t it He who blesses us?

I was in a yoga session recently that ended with a blessing. We were lying on our backs, breathing deeply, when the instructor came to each of us and tenderly rubbed oil on our foreheads. It was personal, and the perfect close to our time together.

The first time the word “bless” appears in the Scriptures is in the creation narrative of Genesis. After forming humans, God looks at his beloveds, and blesses them. It is an intimate and holy moment.

Praise can sound like it’s more about the receiver than the giver. As if it doesn’t matter who is in the room, or what is going on with them, because the focus is on the worthiness of the Recipient to garner worship.

But a blessing, now that is personal.

A blessing says, “based on what I know of you, and what I have to offer, here’s how I want to show my love and affection.”  In order to bless someone, we have to notice him. Notice what he is good at, notice what he has done for us, notice the beauty of our relationship. Blessings can happen in a group, but their significance is intimately attached to the heart of each individual who is present.

So what does it mean to bless God? Many times, the Bible points to something pretty simple: to remember Him.

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
    and forget not all his benefits, – Psalm 103:2

To remember God is to stay connected to Him throughout our days and throughout our lives. To notice the way He is with us, to see the way He has blessed us, to understand the goodness of His character being displayed over and over and over again. To bless God is to share these noticings with Him. Not because God is a narcissistic power-monger, looking for His people to tell Him why He is so awesome, but because recounting our gifts is the kind of intimate blessing we can offer to a God we love.

And over, and over, and over, and over again, what the Story of God calls us to remember and recount most often is this:

The Lord is merciful and gracious,
    slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. –Psalm 103:8

That when God passed in front of Moses to proclaim who He was, that this is how our God chose to describe Himself.

The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, - Exodus 34:6

We bless God when we notice the ways He shows this description of Himself to be true in our lives. Maybe that’s also what it really means to praise Him.

MATT REDMAN – TEN THOUSAND REASONS (BLESS THE LORD) – OFFICIAL VIDEO HD from Yodo Creative on Vimeo.


That was my reflection on Psalm 103. Link up with your own reflection below. Stop back next week when the Psalms Journey heads to Psalm 104.

Do people of faith struggle with pain?

Does faith in God’s sovereignty produce perpetual happiness?

That seems to be the sometimes spoken and often implied belief of Christianity.

“Rejoice in the Lord always!”
“In all things, God works for good!”
“God has a plan!”

We push away struggles with platitudes, portraying and either/or kind of faith. You either struggle with pain OR are content in the midst of all circumstances. You either question the direction of your life OR have faith God is at work.

These are implied to be mutually exclusive categories in a life of faith.

The Psalms tell a different story. The Psalms are the prayers of people with a both/and kind of faith. They both tell the struggles of their life AND maintain faith in a God who acts on their behalf. They display both honesty about the depth of their pain AND praise for a God who is present with them.

It is a complicated faith that can sometimes make the Psalms difficult to read. But isn’t it more true to life?

For my days vanish like smoke;
my bones burn like glowing embers.
My heart is blighted and withered like grass;
I forget to eat my food.

In my distress I groan aloud
and am reduced to skin and bones. – Psalm 102:3-5

AND

Let this be written for a future generation,
that a people not yet created may praise the Lord:
“The Lord looked down from his sanctuary on high,
from heaven he viewed the earth,
to hear the groans of the prisoners
and release those condemned to death.” –Psalm 102:18-20

I am prone to pushing away my struggles because I know I shouldn’t feel this way or that. There are others who have much bigger difficulties; I “shouldn’t” be struggling with something like this. I know that God is bigger than all this; I “shouldn’t” be so consumed with something like this.

It is never God who asks me to downplay my pain.

Psalm 102

God wants us. He desires us to come to Him with our true selves. Which means our Father welcomes the prayers of our honest, complicated, and sometimes contradictory hearts. 

God invites the both/and sentiments of a people who both praise Him and don’t understand Him, who both love Him and are angry with Him, who both ache with pain and find contentment in His love.

I believe God is always good. And I believe life can be really hard.

It’s not either/or. It’s both/and.


That was my reflection on Psalm 102. Link up with your own thoughts below. Stop back next week when Psalms Journey moves on to Psalm 103.

Commitment: Thoughts on Psalm 101

psalm 101.jpgWhat does it really mean to have a relationship with God?

A “relationship” can be such undefined terminology. I have a relationship with chocolate. We see each other often. Daily, usually.

What puts my interactions with God on a different plane than that?

Obviously it makes a difference that God loves me back. But just try to tell my taste buds that chocolate isn’t filled with affection for me. The feeling sure seems mutual.

One distinction that comes to mind about what a relationship with God can and should mean is something we don’t often talk about.

Commitment.

God is committed to us. His love never lets go.

What does it look like for us to be committed to Him?

I wonder if it looks something like Psalm 101.

Because when I read the “I will…” followed by “I will…” followed by “I will…,” I can’t help but think of wedding vows.

And though I might have chosen different vows than the ones made by David, that doesn’t throw me off too much. After all, we live in different countries and cultures thousands of years apart from one another. And, have very different roles. He was a king after all, and I am not a queen of anything but clumsiness.

But, I hear his commitment and I respect it. He is making promises to God about how He will live.

If this is a contract kind of situation, which is how I have sometimes read it, this doesn’t feel very loving. If David is committing to do these things because of what he will get in return, or out of fear of what will happen if he doesn’t do them, then this Psalm feels like shallow religion.

But what if it is more like wedding vows? What if they are a voicing of David’s desire to please the One he loves? What if David is fully aware that he will fail at some of these things, but wants to try anyway? What if David knows these promises might not be the 100% correct theology, but is more worried about the heart than the accuracy?

I will sing of your love and justice;
to you, LORD, I will sing praise.
I will be careful to lead a blameless life—
when will you come to me?
I will conduct the affairs of my house
with a blameless heart.
I will not look with approval
on anything that is vile.
– Psalm 101:1-3

If I read this Psalm as wedding vows, I can see something in it for me. I can find inspiration to speak my commitment to God, and hear His commitment to me.

We are in this together, God and I. I am committed to Him, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish as long as I shall live.


This will be my last post for a few weeks.I am taking a blogging break. After making it to 100 Psalms (yeah!) I realized that I have been burning myself out on content-creation, and need some space to work on some brewing projects in other areas of my life. Please join back with me for Psalms series and other posts in early June.


Link up with your own reflection on Psalm 101 below.

What I have learned in 100 Psalms

Psalm 100More than 2 years ago, I made the decision to blog my way through the Psalms, in order. Today marks a milestone.

Today is Psalm 100.

I have taken a few breaks, and had a few guest posts, but otherwise, I’ve been writing consistently. For more than two years, I have returned to the Psalms week after week to see how this ancient song book might speak to my faith and my life.

It has been a sometimes encouraging, sometimes frustrating, sometimes inspiring, and sometimes infuriating journey.

It has also been unexpectedly amazing. In the last two and a half years, I have moved to across states, changed jobs (twice), watched my oldest start school, said goodbye to old friends and waved hello to new ones, and through it all, the Psalms have been my constant companion. They are a warm and tattered blanket for my soul.


Today I read the words of Psalm 100, words I have read many other times in my life. But as I look at them now, I realize how differently I see the words in light of the 99 psalms leading up to their message.

Psalm 100 is a praise Psalm. It is filled with the kind of phrases that can be used as empty platitudes over a worshipping space, pressing people to forget the hard stuff of life and put on their smiling faces.

Unless you read the first 99.

The first 99 help us see how the worshipping community has fought their way into this place of praise.

Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.
Worship the LORD with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs. –Psalm 100:1-2

That though they now shout for joy, they have just as often (if not more often) cried out in grief and despair.

Know that the LORD is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. – Psalm 100:3

That though they now sound confident in the Lord, they have just as often (if not more often) wondered if He had abandoned them.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name. –Psalm 100:4

That though they now enter his courts with praise, they have just as often (if not more often) longed for the day when they would have that closeness with him again.

For the LORD is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations. –Psalm 100:5

The Psalms declare that the Lord is good, but they never say that life is easy.
The Psalms proclaim that God’s love endures, but they never claim that pain isn’t its constant companion.
The Psalms are the hymns of humanity, weaving through brokenness and beauty in parallel to the experience of our lives.

The Message of Psalms

The Psalms give us permission to approach God as we are, and know that we are welcome. Whether we come with ugly prayers of vengeance or stunning desires of commitment, we are embraced in the never-ending love of our Father.

I, for one, am grateful for that.


In honor of this milestone, I thought I would highlight some of Psalms in the first 100 of this series.

5 of the Most Popular:

5 of My Favorites:

5 of the Most Frustrating (Since the Psalms aren’t all roses and flowers, I want this recap list to reflect the wrestling…)

Also in honor of this milestone, I’d like to thank all those who’ve joined me along the way. First and foremost, for all of you who have read along as I have pushed my way forward on this crazy adventure. Second, to all who have joined me on any of the link ups, including Perfect Number, Kirsten, Brenna, Ben, Jennifer, Marvia, Brandy, Abby, and Janice. (I really hope I didn’t miss anyone). Thank you for being part of this with me.

100 down, 50 more to go…


I would love it if you would link up with your own reflection of Psalm 100 below. And stop back next week with thoughts on Psalm 101. Also, if you have participated as a reader or writer, I would love it if you would celebrate with me and comment with any of your reflections or favorites from the first 100.

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