It Started in the Garden – Psalm 36

God directed his beloved children not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Satan slithered in and spoke lies. Eve took the forbidden fruit. First, she ate some, then shared it with Adam. Their eyes were opened, and they knew sin—the human drive to worship and pursue knowledge blossomed in the garden. However, knowledge apart from God becomes too great a burden to bear.

In Psalm 36, David paints a portrait of man’s wickedness and God’s perfection.

1 Transgression speaks to the wicked deep in his heart; there is no fear of God before his eyes.
2 For he flatters himself in his own eyes that his iniquity cannot be found out and hated.
3 The words of his mouth are trouble and deceit; he has ceased to act wisely and do good.
4 He plots trouble while on his bed; he sets himself in a way that is not good; he does not reject evil.
(Psalm 36:1-4 ESV)

Fear of God

The wicked man does not fear God. His perspective is clouded by pride, and he no longer sees his sin. He has become fluent in the language of lies, and his behavior hurts others. He deceived himself. Even his rest time becomes an opportunity to dream of ways to exact revenge or harm others. He accepts and embraces evil as the cost of living in a fallen world.

My Own Understanding

I long to create a comfortable distance from wicked men and women. I like to believe I am nothing like them. However, I can be tempted to seek knowledge apart from God. I am guilty of relying too heavily on my understanding of situations when making important decisions. I believe the lie that proper research and finding the facts will light my way. Turning away from God to solve my own problems can be a subtle drift in the wrong direction. Wickedness is far closer than I like to think. I need the guidance of God’s word, the Holy Spirit, and regular time spent with the Christian community God has called each of us to be a part of. These daily and weekly rhythms provide the grounding I need.

5 Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds.
6 Your righteousness is like the mountains of God; your judgments are like the great deep; man and beast you save, O Lord.
(Psalm 36:5-6 ESV)

God’s Steadfast Love Displayed

Regularly disconnecting from the wired world of my tech devices allows me to notice how the Lord’s steadfast love is displayed across the skies and up to the heavens daily. The myriad colors of a sunrise or sunset reveal the spectrum of beauty God placed in His creation. Looking at nature, I notice how God’s righteousness is as high and unmovable as a mountain. Meanwhile, like the ocean, His judgment runs deeper than any of us can fathom.

7 How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
8 They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights.
9 For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light.
(Psalm 36:7-9 ESV)

How do I take refuge under the shadow of God’s wings?

It requires me to choose to stop pursuing my agenda. I must pause, rest, wait, and watch for the Lord. Even five minutes spent quietly sitting and listening for His voice could allow me to reset my mind and heart.

Feasts of Abundance and Fountains of Life

The feast God offers is His word. The drink He serves is from pure flowing waters of delight.

His fountain of life will refresh my soul, and the light He offers will cast out the darkness that can crowd my mind and heart.

10 Oh, continue your steadfast love to those who know you, and your righteousness to the upright of heart!
11 Let not the foot of arrogance come upon me, nor the hand of the wicked drive me away.
12 There the evildoers lie fallen; they are thrust down, unable to rise.
(Psalm 36:10-12 ESV)

Knowing God

When I take time to know God, I will see His steadfast and unchanging love. Pride may pursue me and cause me to swerve back into self-reliance. The Holy Spirit will tap me gently on the shoulder and help me to see my genuine need for God. Truly, I can do no good thing apart from Him.

Knowing Sin

Someday, all who choose evil will fall permanently down and not be able to recover. The weight of sin will crush them. God will allow them to have what they have chosen, again and again, a life without Him.

It started in a Garden. There God met with his children and gave them everything in abundance. He gave them limits because He knew what they could not handle. And yet, just like us, they rebelled in arrogance and were crushed by their own choices.


Lord, help me choose to take refuge under the shadow of your wings daily. Please guide me to follow the wisdom of your word and rely on something other than my limited understanding. Open my eyes to see Your steadfast love on display all around me. Help me to hunger and thirst for the food and drink only You can provide.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Flammable Foolishness – Psalm 14

Years ago, we sold a home, and a few weeks after closing got a call from our realtor. She explained that the home buyer had reported that the gas logs in the house we sold were not working correctly. There had been an incident, and she had been burned. The buyer wanted to know who had installed the gas logs and find out who was to blame.

My husband suggested we pay for the installer to go and inspect the logs and figure out what had gone wrong. A few days later, the installer called to report a rather interesting conversation with the buyer. It went something like this.

Can you tell me what happened on the day you had a problem with the gas logs?

Well, I turned the gas on in the fireplace and realized I didn’t have a lighter. I went back to the kitchen to search for one. When I got back and lit the logs, there was a flare-up. That is how I got burned.

Let me clarify this. You left the gas on and went to find a lighter?

Yes, that is what I said.

The installer then patiently explained that it was a wonder she didn’t blow the whole house up and would never do that again.

By God’s grace, her injuries were minor. While I was sad she got hurt, I was grateful not to be held responsible for someone else’s foolish decision. Today, I let my husband light the logs at our house.

The Bible is full of wisdom and stories of the foolishness of human beings. Psalm 14 contrasts God’s wisdom with foolishness. Perhaps God offers much insight to us because we so sorely need it. We live in a world where the voice of folly is loud and appears to be in charge.

How often does that voice influence me?

The psalmist begins Psalm 14, pointing to foolishness.

Follow Your Heart

1 The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds;
    there is none who does good. (Psalm 14:1 ESV)

This statement of practical atheism proclaims that God has nothing to do with our lives.

The fool speaks from his heart. Human hearts and emotions are not reliable sources of wisdom. Listening to your heart sounds so good in a country music ballad, but the practice may lead to severe mistakes. What feels so true in the moment might not be accurate in reality.

Relying on our hearts may lead to corruption.

Merriam-Webster defines corruption as “a departure from the original or from what is pure or correct.” The corrosive effect of foolishness leads to abominable deeds.  

Check out the headlines on any given day to read more about what that looks like in real life. What gets done to vulnerable people like the elderly or children all seems quite abominable. I don’t think anyone wakes up on any given day intent on extremely abusive behavior. It could be a slow drift towards foolish choices that slowly go downhill to an extreme degree.

Practical atheism or “God has nothing to do with my life” makes human beings feel adrift without a moral standard.

As a believer, I live in a sin-saturated society. Atheist fools are platformed, and their guidance is often set as the standard for all. That influence can take a toll on me as a believer.  

2 The LORD looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. (Psalm 14:2 ESV)


The LORD has a 360-degree view of seeing the entire universe. He looks down from heaven and sees the “children of man.” These people choose to live their lives apart from God and have limited perspectives.

The children of man misunderstand the wisdom of God.

God can discern, from His perspective, if a person understands or seeks Him. While sometimes I believe I know this too, I don’t. It’s easy for me to assign motives creatively, but I don’t know what is in someone’s heart or mind. Only God does because only God can handle that information.

3 They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good,
    not even one. (Psalm 14:3 ESV)

Contagious Corruption

Turning aside from God’s wisdom leads to contagious corruption, spreading from one person to another. They no longer have the ability to do any good.

I long to create a comfortable distance from this situation. I want to claim that I seek God so I won’t become corrupted. However, I live in a world where this is sadly so common. How many high-profile Christian leaders do we see fall into corruption? This can happen to any leader, but when one of the high-profile ones falls, it dramatically damages the body of Christ.

As a believer, I am not inoculated from foolishness. I need a steady stream of wisdom from God to counteract all I am exposed to daily.

4 Have they no knowledge, all the evildoers who eat up my people as they eat bread
    and do not call upon the LORD?


Foolish people become evildoers who eat up God’s people like bread. Exploiting other people is as natural to them as eating daily bread. They don’t suffer any guilt or concern. Evildoers do not call upon the LORD.

As followers of Jesus, we are called to love people. It is far too easy to focus on accomplishing a worthy goal that people feel used to or exploited. I must seek God’s wisdom to avoid these practices and rely on Him to achieve goals.

However, God will not allow exploitation to remain unchecked. This is the part of the psalm that turns in a promising direction.

5 There they are in great terror, for God is with the generation of the righteous. (Psalm 14:5 ESV)

God provides His presence.

Foolish people, who don’t acknowledge God, will end in terror and alone.

God is going to help the righteous ones who seek God’s wisdom.

God is with the generation of the righteous. God’s peaceful presence transforms our lives. He is the one who makes us righteous by the blood of Jesus’s death on the cross.

6 You would shame the plans of the poor, but the LORD is his refuge. (Psalm 14:6 ESV)

God provides refuge

The LORD is the refuge for the poor. Those who lack peace or provision can run into God’s presence. His door is always open, and He is never too busy for us. God can overrule the plans of people who are not seeking Him. He can also bless the plans of those who do seek Him.

7 Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion! When the LORD restores the fortunes of his people, let Jacob rejoice, let Israel be glad. (Psalm 14:7 ESV) 

God provides hope.

In verse 7, hope skips into the scene. The LORD points to Zion because it is where God revealed Himself to man most personally as Jesus Christ. Salvation is here for us now, and the complete restoration is coming. Notice that it is not a matter of if; it says when the LORD restores the fortunes of His people because He will.

We can keep a hopeful perspective even in times when foolishness abounds.

God is in the restoration business and working now and not yet.


Lord, when I feel surrounded by foolishness, help me seek Your wisdom every day. Please help me to take the time to take refuge in you. Guard my heart against being hijacked by the tyranny of the urgent. I need to hear from you in your word first and daily. Lord, let me live with a hope-filled perspective set upon your promises and presence.

In Jesus’s name, Amen.

How do you avoid flammable foolishness?

What is God doing in the dark? Psalm 7

In the cool dark recesses of the cupboard under the stairs, I carefully placed my newly potted bulb. My father made it clear that I was not to pull it back out into the light for a few months. At seven years old patience was not my strong suit, and I desperately wanted to take a peek after school each day. Instead, I took my red colored pencil and marked off another day on the calendar in the kitchen.

Eventually, my wait was rewarded. My father gave me permission to place the pot in a sunny window.  Within a few weeks, gorgeous blooms burst forth! Months spent in the dark followed by sudden sunshine caused the bulb to believe spring had come early, and it was safe to bloom despite the outdoor frigid temperatures in our British garden.

Have you ever spent a season in the dark with the Lord?

Sometimes we spend time in the dark waiting.

Sometimes we spend time in the dark wondering.

Sometimes we spend time in the dark preparing.

Sometimes we spend time in the dark resting.

God may use a season in the dark with Him in order to prepare us to grow and bloom.

1 O Lord my God, in you do I take refuge; save me from all my pursuers and deliver me,
2 lest like a lion they tear my soul apart, rending it in pieces, with none to deliver. (Psalm 7:1-2 ESV)

In the dark, God provides a refuge from evil.

While enemies might still be near at hand, God’s presence provides a safe harbor.

A place of refuge with God may cloak me in darkness to hide me from our enemies.

Days or weeks or months might slip by in this dark waiting place. All the while I sit in God’s presence away from the evil one who may prowl around like a roaring lion threatening to attack me. My dependence on God grows roots down into the soil of His word and His presence.

3 O Lord my God, if I have done this, if there is wrong in my hands,
4 if I have repaid my friend with evil or plundered my enemy without cause,
5 let the enemy pursue my soul and overtake it, and let him trample my life to the ground and lay my glory in the dust. Selah (Psalm 7:3-5 ESV)

In the dark, guilt might try to hound my heart.

Unlike David, the palmist, I know I could never claim to have no wrong on my hands. It is only my relationship with Jesus that provides forgiveness for all my past, current, and future sins. In the dark, the light of forgiveness keeps me company.

In the dark, God may call me to examine all I have done or left undone.

I may need to repent of sins I lost track of. I can ask the Holy Spirit to search my heart for any hidden sin. Time spent in the dark with God is sowing into a season of growth.

6 Arise, O Lord, in your anger; lift yourself up against the fury of my enemies; awake for me; you have appointed a judgment.
7 Let the assembly of the peoples be gathered about you; over it return on high. (Psalm 7:6-7 ESV)

In the dark, I need God to work in my most difficult situations.

In the areas of my life where I am fearful and controlling, I might need time to realize how much more I need to surrender to God. It may take time before everyone (the assembly) can see how only God can set things right and bring true justice.

8 The Lord judges the peoples; judge me, O Lord, according to my righteousness and according to the integrity that is in me.

9 Oh, let the evil of the wicked come to an end, and may you establish the righteous—you who test the minds and hearts, O righteous God! (Psalm 7:8-9 ESV)

In the dark, the Lord may take a full inventory of my life.

He may call me to let go or take on new kingdom assignments in order that I might grow in ways He wants me to.

Lord, when you judge me, I know that you alone are my source of righteousness. I can only become “right with you” in our relationship. I am established in righteousness once and for all by the blood of Jesus.

10 My shield is with God, who saves the upright in heart.
11 God is a righteous judge, and a God who feels indignation every day. (Psalm 7:10-11 ESV)

In the dark, I give thanks to God.

I give thanks and worship because He is my refuge, shield, and strong tower, I can always run and hide in His presence.

12 If a man does not repent, God will whet his sword; he has bent and readied his bow;
13 he has prepared for him his deadly weapons, making his arrows fiery shafts. (Psalm 7:12-13 ESV)

In the dark, God may reveal to me hidden sins.

In this world, it is far too easy to become comfortable with the presence of evil. I need time alone with God to discover anything that draws me away from Him. He may need to take his sharpened sword and remove what is not pleasing to Him for my good.

An evil man, who refuses to repent, will be destroyed by God. The judgment will be swift and accurate like an arrow.  

14 Behold, the wicked man conceives evil and is pregnant with mischief
    and gives birth to lies.
15 He makes a pit, digging it out, and falls into the hole that he has made.
16 His mischief returns upon his own head, and on his own skull his violence descends. (Psalm 7:14-16 ESV)

In the dark, God may reveal the wickedness of others.

He may even call me to draw healthy boundaries with those who seek evil who cross my path.

A wicked man becomes an incubator for mischief and lies. He gives birth to more and more deception. Ultimately all of this will end his life.

17 I will give to the Lord the thanks due to his righteousness, and I will sing praise to the name of the Lord, the Most High. (Psalm 7:17 ESV) 

God’s righteousness does not dim with time but is eternally preserved in who He is. The Lord is the only source of righteousness, and He generously chooses to share it with those who trust in Him.


I will give thanks for seasons of my life spent in a dark refuge with my righteous savior. In due time, I will be brought back out into the light and beautiful blooms will burst forth for His glory.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

How do you speak to yourself? Psalm 5

Do you use practice kindness or condemnation? I confess my default setting for the voice inside my head leans heavily towards harsh criticism. I struggle to practice self-compassion. In Psalm 5, the psalmist calls out to the Lord for help.

1 Give ear to my words, O Lord; consider my groaning.
2 Give attention to the sound of my cry, my King and my God, for to you do I pray.
3 O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch.

(Psalm 5:1-3 ESV)

Thank you, Lord, for hearing me today and every time I pray to you. You are always awake and ready to listen to whatever is in my heart. Words are not required. You hear and understand my groanings.

When I choose to watch for you, I will always see you appear.

4 For you are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil may not dwell with you.
5 The boastful shall not stand before your eyes; you hate all evildoers.
6 You destroy those who speak lies; the Lord abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man.
(Psalm 5:4-6 ESV)

Thank you, Lord, for taking care of all the wickedness and deception in this world. It is not up to me to bring justice or to right the balance of power. You have a plan to do all of this in your way and on your schedule. I can rest in you, knowing you are taking care of each and every evil act. You know and see all things, so I don’t have to. Help me release all wrongdoers into your capable hands and your perfect timing. Give me the ability to release my own mistakes and trust you to redeem them.

7 But I, through the abundance of your steadfast love, will enter your house. I will bow down toward your holy temple in the fear of you.
8 Lead me, O Lord, in your righteousness because of my enemies; make your way straight before me.
(Psalm 5:7-8 ESV)

Thank you, Lord, for providing an abundance of steadfast love. You meet me at the door of your house with the warmest of welcomes. When I come in, I am so overwhelmed by your loving presence, I must bow down before you.

Whenever I look for you to lead me, you do. You gently take me by the hand and make my path clear by revealing each step on the journey. I travel light because I am covered by your righteousness and not weighed down by all of my sins.

9 For there is no truth in their mouth; their inmost self is destruction; their throat is an open grave; they flatter with their tongue.
10 Make them bear their guilt, O God; let them fall by their own counsels; because of the abundance of their transgressions cast them out, for they have rebelled against you.
(Psalm 5:9-10 ESV)

There is no truth in the mouths of your enemies, Lord. Help me to speak the truth to myself and not relentlessly criticize myself or anyone else. Guide me away from pointing out what is lacking.

You cast out those who rebel. Your justice is perfect and absolute. I no longer have to keep score.

11 But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy, and spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may exult in you.
12 For you bless the righteous, O Lord; you cover him with favor as with a shield.
(Psalm 5:11-12 ESV)

Thank you for providing a place of refuge open 24/7 because of your grace. Once there, I find myself joining the chorus of joyful singing. In your presence, I can hide inside the shield of your love and acceptance. Help me to practice speaking kindly to myself the way you always do. Silence the voice of my inner critic that seeks to condemn me. Today, I choose to dance in the fullness of your love and give thanks.

A Remedy for Soul Weary Days Psalm 16:7-11

Are you tired? Are you worn out?

God’s guidance continues to challenge me to dismantle the influence of hustle culture on my life.  For decades I’ve been immersed in the need to do more, work harder, and keep going. My type A personality struggles to avoid the trap that hems me in on all sides with chaos of competing calls to never stop. I will never arrive or complete what is most essential according to the world. Choosing the narrow way, and daily exposure to God’s directive for time management realigns my priorities.

The second half of Psalm 16 gives special direction for finding a place of refuge that refuels me on my journey. The ever forward motion can cease when I pause and rest with God. (See last week’s blog post for the first half of Psalm 16

I bless the Lord who gives me counsel;
    in the night also my heart instructs me.
I have set the Lord always before me;
    because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.

When the dark of the night surrounds me it is easy to become disoriented and discouraged. How often has sleep been stolen by anxiety’s grip in the middle of the night, pulling back the covers and causing fears to loom larger? The worst dilemma is not facing a difficult decision, but it is actually the lack of clarity. In the night God will show up and give guidance. Perhaps it is in the night, when I finally get still, I can hear His voice above the hustle of this world.   

Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices;
    my flesh also dwells secure.

10 For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol,
    or let your holy one see corruption.

My rest is even found in celebrating in the security of my now and not yet. In a world full of anxiety and threats, I can rest assured in soul security found only in the Lord. I can know my eternal soul is safe forever in the company of God.

11 You make known to me the path of life;
    in your presence there is fullness of joy;
    at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

True soul tending rest delivers gladness and thankfulness. I know where I am going with God. He will never leave me or forsake me. He has revealed a way to live in His presence, and I can escape an exhausting cycle of second guessing, criticizing myself, and striving to do more and more. The joy found in the presence of God is soul sustaining for the ongoing journey of life this side of heaven.

Lord, teach me to take time away with you to restore my soul in the rest. I choose to listen to the faithful counsel of your word and sit with you and rejoice. All I need is right here with you. Amen.

How do you find rest?