You, O Lord, Are My Rock

“For by You, O Lord, I can run against a troop, by my God I can leap over a wall. As for God, His way is perfect; The word of the Lord is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him. For who is God, except the Lord? And who is a rock, except our God” Psalm 18:29-31 (NKJV)

The following is an excerpt from my book, Praises, Promises, and Provisions— Lessons Learned from the Pen of the Psalmist.

The battle of life is violently raging around me. It is relentless in its intentional pursuit. Day and night, the frightful and haunting sounds from the battlefield creep in to overwhelm my heart, mind, and soul. They give me no rest. Various enemies, clad with their weapons of warfare, seem to be coming at me from every imaginable angle. From without and within, and often with little warning, they seek to disable, discourage, and even destroy.

Who are these enemies that are coming after me?

  • The enemy of sin and evil — my own sin and the sins of others around me
  • The enemy of temptation — the good, the bad, and the ugly of it all
  • The enemy of persecution — bullying people that go straight for the spirit within
  • The enemy of harsh criticism — words that cut like a sharp knife, leaving wounds that are slow to heal
  • The enemy of defeat and discouragement — seeking its best to disarm me
  • The enemy of broken relationships — the hardship of saying good-bye
  • The enemy of death — walking through the valley of the shadow of death with a beloved friend
  • The enemy of failing health — so many doctor visits and tests to do
  • The enemy of financial struggle — too little money and too many bills
  • The enemy of time — so much to do and so little time to do it all
  • The enemy of to-do-lists — lists that keep on growing while seemingly little gets done
  • The enemy of perfectionism — What? Am I the only one?
  • The enemy of _____________________ — you add your own enemy that you battle.

All too often, in the midst of this raging battle, it seems as though I am just waiting to hit that proverbial wall with an almighty, hard-hitting thud.

But God!

I love what the psalmist David says about his enemy pursuing him and the proverbial wall that he encountered. “For by you, O Lord, I can run against the troop (the enemy), by my God I can leap over the wall” (Psalm 18:29). I love the picture that comes to my mind when I read those words.

This psalm was written on the day that David was delivered from his number-one enemy, King Saul. The king relentlessly pursued David, with just one intention— to kill him. Saul’s jealousy was the driving force behind his evil intent to destroy David. And with an unrelenting jealous rage, Saul put everything else in his kingdom life on hold just so he could go after David. That is what the enemy does!

David describes his enemy. “My strong enemy … those who hated me. For they were too strong for me. They confronted me in the day of my calamity” (Psalm 18:17-18).

David’s enemy was very real. David had come face-to-face with his enemy, and the battle between them ensued. David had to run for his very life. And he kept on running. He had to do everything possible to escape from the evil king who sought after him. David spent time hiding out in caves, hoping not to be found by the king and his men. So many times, David faced that proverbial wall, hoping he would not go splat against it. David did what he knew he had to do in order to keep himself safe.

What David found in the midst of his battle with King Saul, greatly encourages me in the midst of my own battles of life. “But the Lord was my support” (Psalm 18:18b).

I love those words of David. I so often have echoed them from my own lips to the listening ears of God. “In my distress I called upon the Lord and cried out to my God; He heard my voice from the temple and my cry came before Him, even to His ears” (Psalm 18:6).

Ah, how good it is to know that we are never alone in the midst of our battles. We all can cry out to God from the battlefield. He will hear us. David cried out to God in the midst of his distress. And David found that God was right there with him. God was not sitting on the sidelines, cheering him on. God was present on the battlefield, right there with David, making known to him the way that he should go. God gave David all the resources he needed to face the enemy troops. God never once allowed David to go splat against the wall that was put up in front of, behind, and all around him. God enabled David to leap over that wall. God strengthened David for the battle of his life.

Here is what God did for David:

  • He delivered me from my strong enemy (Psalm 18:17).
  • He also brought me out into a broad place; He delivered me because He delighted in me (Psalm 18:19).
  • The Lord rewarded me according to my righteousness (Psalm 18:20).
  • It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect (Psalm 18:32).
  • You have also given me the shield of Your salvation. Your right hand has held me up. Your gentleness has made me great (Psalm 18:35).
  • You enlarged my path under me, so my feet do not slip (Psalm 18:36).
  • You armed me with strength for the battle; You have subdued under me those who rose up against me (Psalm 18:39).
  • You have also given me the necks of my enemies, so that I destroyed those who hated me (Psalm 18:40).

Wow! God did all that for David! Imagine what God can do for you and for me on the battlefield in the midst of our own battles of life.

God promises to be with us. He will be present in the midst of our battles. He will be our support. He will give us strength. He will bring us to the place of victory. He will be our solid rock!

How do we get that kind of help from God?

It starts with us acknowledging that God is present with us, and knowing who He is (Psalm 18:1-3). It starts with seeing our enemies and naming them (Psalm 18:4-5). It starts with a cry (Psalm 18:6). It starts with us acknowledging our need for God.

We need His help. Cry out to Him. Call on His name. Invite Him to the battlefield. Let Him gird you with His strength. Take on His helmet of salvation, adorn the garments of praise in the midst of battle. Watch God fight for you, as He holds you tight with His mighty right hand. He will strike down each and every enemy. He will be the one who destroys them all. He will bring victory over all evil within and without. He will not cause your feet to slip or to stumble; rather, He will lift you up to high places, where you will stand strong. You will stand undefeated. The Lord, your God, will support you!

It is no wonder that in that moment after the battle was won, David wanted nothing more than to stand in the presence of his God and sing his victory song aloud.

“I will love You, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I will call upon the Lord who is worthy to be praised, so shall I be saved from my enemies … The Lord lives! Blessed be my Rock! Let the God of my salvation be exalted” (Psalm 18:1-4 and 46).

Whenever the Lord God has proven to you that He is your Rock upon which you can stand, you need to stand!

Whenever the Lord God has rescued and delivered you from the hands of any enemy that you face, you need to stand upon that Rock!

Whenever you stand upon your Rock, you need to look to the heavens and begin your own praise song the Lord God who delivered you!

Unexpected Grace

I am guilty!

Oh, yes, I am! Big-time guilty!

I am a confirmed bibliophile!

Do you know what that is?

My guess is that there are a few more of us lurking around out there in the world.

A bibliophile is a person who collects or has a great love for books!

Yep, that’s me! It all started when my parents introduced me to the world of books. They would read out loud to me and I would look at all the pictures as they read the words upon the page. Mom and dad read some of the greatest stories to their little girl. We would spend hours discovering the joy of reading a book. I was fascinated by them. My bedroom was full of storybooks. I couldn’t wait for the day that I learned to read complete sentences, by myself, from the pages of a good book.

But the real problem started when I discovered the school library! That’s another word for book heaven! The “hang-out” spot of every genuine bibliophile. Well, for me it was. So many books. So little time to read. Yet, my determination was to read them all before I left Hudlow Elementary School.

And then, it got worse when mom introduced me to the Pima County Public Library. Oh, that was glorified book heaven! Rows upon rows of books of every possible subject to delight the heart of a bibliophile. There I was introduced to the greats— great books, great authors, great biographies, great animal stories, great adventures to go on through pages and pages of books, great mystery stories to try and solve before I got to the end of the book, and great librarians who would point me into the direction of the “bestest” books an avid reader could get her hands upon. I hungered for more. Loved that I could take five books out of the library at one time— but for a week? Really? Man, I had those books read within just a couple of days, never mind a week. My mom gave her three daughters a very clear message, on our trips to the library: “When you have overdue books, the cost of your fine comes out of your weekly allowance.” Ugh! We knew mom was serious. I did my best, but there were a few times when my books were late, and I learned to pay my fine with a smile on my face.

Now, as an adult, I still love libraries, bookstores, and gifts of books, books, and more books. With every move I made in life (stateside or across the world), I carried only my favorite books with me, giving the rest away to new homes and hopefully to another avid reader. And then, when I got settled in my new place, I started the book collection all over again. Quite often, you will find me on the prowl of a good book to read. Got any suggestions? Oh, so many times, you will find me curled up with a good book in my hands and my nose buried into the printed page. In one corner of my multiple bookcases, you will find it contains the “soon to be read!” books, although I am noticing of late how that corner is taking over the whole shelf. So, yes! I am a bibliophile! And I am proud of it!

But I have to tell you about my unexpected moment in the library, just down the street from my house. Totally unexpected!

I went into the library with really good intentions. I was going to donate a few copies of my newly published book to the library. Which I did in hopes that someone might see it and want to read it. In the process I had to check out the “new” books that the library was offering. And of course, I found one that just had to come home with me.

So, I went to the librarian’s desk to check out. “Do you have your library card with you?”

Yes, but I first had to find it. After a few moments, I handed her my card and smiled. She did her thing on the computer. “I’m sorry, but you will not be able to take this book out the door until you pay your fine!” she says with a not so nice smirk upon her face. “What do you mean I have a fine? I haven’t checked out any library books for well over three years now,” was my reply.

“Yes, I know,” said the librarian. “You have fines that have mounted for three years!”

I was stunned. What? is all my brain could think of in that unexpected moment. Nor could my brain even begin to handle the calculation of that whopper of a fine! “Don’t even tell me how much it is, I really don’t want to know. I would rather go and check and make sure that book isn’t over there sitting happily upon your shelf” and I pointed in the direction of all the books. She thought that was a good idea. We both went on an unexpected mission. I asked God to join us in that unexpected moment! He did and He presented both the librarian and me with an unexpected surprise.

“See! Right there!” There upon the bookshelf. In its proper place. Sat the very book. The book that I had a three-year fine for. The librarian reached up and pulled the book off the shelf and she walked away. I followed her, hoping for a great outcome to my unexpected moment. She disappeared behind her desk, did a few things at the computer, got up and walked to the back room and was gone for what seemed forever.

Then, she finally emerged with that long-awaited-for smile. “You should be thankful for your GRACE period. It’s still in effect, my dear. And you won’t be paying any fines today!” I wanted to give her a big hug! But instead, I picked up my library card, ready for the next time I’m brave enough to walk through those doors again! I glanced in the direction of her computer and yes, my donated books were still there. I left the one book that I had wanted to check out behind me. Someone else could have the pleasure of reading that new book. I turned tail and left the library in a hurry, just in case the librarian changed her mind. Whew! What an unexpected moment!

But, with that unexpected moment came an unexpected gift. Did you catch what that was?

Unexpected grace! From the librarian! Thank you, God!

On my way home, I got to thinking about all the different times that God gives me His gift of unexpected grace. Wow! Now, there’s a thought that could easily fill a book. Maybe I’ll write a new one.

Unexpected grace! Yes, our God blesses us with unexpected grace every single day! Just think about it. Even today, God will, if He hasn’t already, surprise us with His gift of grace. And that grace just might come in an unexpected moment. Grace is mercy, lovingkindness that Jesus paid for with His very life. Not one of us deserves grace; but God will lovingly lavish His grace upon us today. Just watch and see for yourself.

Have a read of this biblical encouragement:

“The Lord will give GRACE and glory; no good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly” Psalm 84:11 (NKJV).

As you go through your day today, whether you have unexpected moments or not, be on the lookout for displays of God’s gift of grace towards you. It will be there. You just have to look and receive His great gift of grace!

Oh, and one more thing.

If you have any overdue library books, get them back to the library! Now! Before your GRACE period runs out! And tell the librarian that Kathy sent you!

God’s Word Is

God’s Word is life to me!

I spend a great deal of my life in God’s Word! Reading it, meditating upon it, studying it, writing about it, and sharing it with others. I would be lost without the Word of God influencing my life!

The following Bible verses are among my personal favorites for my life.

“Teach me Your way, O Lord, and lead me in a smooth path… I would have lost heart, unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart. Wait, I say, on the Lord!” Psalm 27:11, 13-14 (NKJV).

God’s Word holds my reality! “I would have lost heart” (oh, so many times!), “unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord” within the pages of God’s sacred Word. I saw/see His goodness every time I open the book and turn its pages. I believe it more and more with each word, phrase, and sentence that wraps itself around my heart and soul.

God’s Word leads me to prayer! “Teach me Your way, O Lord” is my prayer every day. I do not want to live life my own way, because I know I will mess it up and mess it up badly. “Lead me in a smooth path” is my prayer of acknowledgement that His way is way better than mine. He knows the right paths that I should take, and He will walk with me on every path of life, wherever it may lead me.

God’s Word challenges me! “Wait on the Lord” challenges me to wait for His perfect timing, His amazing leading, and His life-changing answers. Waiting is never easy, yet, I have learned that to wait on my Lord, the wait is always adventurous.

God’s Word provides the promises! And I just happen to love the promise that these Bible verses hold. “He shall strengthen your heart.” Oh, yes, that is what God’s Word does. It strengthens my heart. That’s why I’m in it every single day. I would lose hope. I would lose life if I didn’t have God’s Word. The Bible is full of precious promises just waiting to be claimed by His children as their own personal promise from a God who loves them.

This “land of the living” (our world of today) gets crazier with each and every passing day. I need God’s Word to keep me focused on what is right and true, pure and lovely, honest and of good report. God’s Word keeps my eyes on the God of the Word.

There is no doubt in my mind, I need God’s Word!

His Word is life to me!

The Prayer of my Heart

O Lord, my God, my Yahweh

May I always be humble enough to seek You first and foremost in all things pertaining to life. May I desire Your ways and will You show me Your righteous ways. May I always have a teachable spirit so that I can walk with confidence on the paths that You show me. I know You will always guide me in Your truth, for You are truth. You are my God, my one and only. You are my Savior, for you have rescued me and set my feet upon the right path. You are my hope, my only hope, in this life here on earth. All day long, I want to walk with You, in hope and in confidence, in faith and in trust. May I always stay upon Your path. May I always trust Your leading and guiding me through life. May I always cling to Your truth. Thank you, O Lord, my God. You will always be my Yahweh. Forever and ever. Amen!

I Choose to Praise God

Praise the Lord! Praise God in His sanctuary; Praise Him in His mighty firmament! Praise Him for His mighty acts; Praise Him according to His excellent goodness! … Let everything that has breath, praise the Lord. Praise the Lord! —Psalm 150:1-2 (NKJV).

Sharing with my blog readers an excerpt from my newly published book, Praises, Promises, and Provisions.

“The psalmist David knew all about praising his God… Throughout his lifetime, David had a heart that was not afraid to burst forth in bold praise to his great God. David chose to praise God!

“It did not matter whether David was tending his father’s sheep in the field, relaxing at home with his family, facing the giant that no one else wanted to fight, singing before King Saul, running for his life from someone who wanted to kill him, fighting the enemy on the battlefield, encouraging his soldiers as they returned tired from war, feasting at the fully loaded banqueting table, or pursing his kingly duties from the regal palace. One would often find David offering up his praise to God. David chose to praise God! …

“Praise should never be influenced by those around us. It should be instrumentally instructed by the contents of our hearts. Praise should never be dependent on our current circumstances being good or right or even fair. Praise is not based on our feelings at a certain moment of time. We can feel perfectly lousy and still choose to open our hearts, lift up our voices, and burst forth with praise to the God who loves and cares about us.

“Praising God is a choice. It is our privilege. It is our way of acknowledging that our great God is present with us (never to leave us or forsake us!). He is there, right in the midst of our circumstances. Praising God is a means of giving thanks for all the great things God has done for us, has given to us, and has answered on our behalf. Praising God is boldly declaring His faithfulness, His greatness, His power, and His majesty to the world around us. It is an honor to lift up our hearts, our voices, our hands, and our very beings in praise and worship to a God whose heart we seek after.

“Let everything that has breath, praise the Lord!” (Psalm 150:6).

“I choose to praise God today!”

If you are reading this blog today, and have a reason to praise God, I would love to join you in that “praise party.” Consider sharing your praise in the comment section and let others raise their voices with you in praise to our great God.

Lord God, every day You give me reason to praise You. You are a God worthy of all praise, including mine, especially mine. I just want to praise you in awe and wonder at Your great faithfulness to me!

New Book Release

The challenge is on! A challenge between student and teacher has them searching through the Book of Psalms for the praises, promises, and provisions contained within. Little did this teacher know that God had some specific lessons for her to learn during her search.

In Praises, Promises, and Provisions, author Kathy O’Brien shares a journey through Psalms and what she discovered. She seeks to answer some of the following questions?

  • Does the psalmist praise God in any way?
  • What is he praising God for?
  • Is there a promise from God shared in the psalm?
  • Is it a promise we can claim too?
  • Does God provide something for the psalmist?
  • Does God provide food, shelter, help, strength, wisdom, or any other thing for the psalmist?

Through a scavenger hunt of sorts, Praises, Promises, and Provisions helps Christians discover the blessings God provided for the psalmist in the Book of Psalms and thus for all those who believe.

This newly released book is available now in hardcover, softcover and e-book formats through WestBow Press Bookstore (www.westbowpress.com). It is also available through Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

It is my heart-felt prayer that my book gets into the hands of people who need a little encouragement and inspiration. May it be a blessing to all who read it. May God use it to minister to hearts in an awesome way that is so far beyond my imagination.

To God be all praise for His promises and provisions upon the lives of His children!

The Challenge Was On!

“Hey, teacher! Do you want to do a Bible challenge with me?” said one of my eleven-year-old students, with a smile on his face. He was shifting his body from one foot to another, anxiously awaiting my answer. I could not help but chuckle a little. Usually it was I who was presenting the challenges to my students. It did this teacher’s heart good to see the roles reversed for a change.

“Hmm,” I replied as I gave him a quizzical glance, “what do you have in mind?”

“Well, I really want to read through the entire book of Psalms. Do you know that it has the most chapters of any book in the Bible? I was wondering if you would like to do it with me. You could make sure that I read it from the beginning to the end, all one hundred and fifty chapters.”

While I was delighted at seeing his enthusiasm to read a portion of the Bible, as his teacher, I was just a little curious as to what led this young student to want to read the entire book of Psalms. He normally was not a keen reader at all. In fact, I had noticed the struggle he often had just to find his way around the various pages of his Bible. I clearly saw a teaching moment standing right here in front of me.

“You know what? I would love to accept your challenge!” Instantly I saw a smile break out on his face that rocked my heart as a teacher. “But, if it is okay with you, I would like to add something extra to your challenge to help make reading God’s Word a little more exciting for both of us.”

“Okay!” he said. His feet were practically dancing as his level of excitement went up a few notches. “What? What do you want to add?”

“Do you know what a scavenger hunt is?” I asked.

“Oh, yes, I love doing scavenger hunts!” His excitement level went up a few more notches. “With scavenger hunts you have a list of objects to find, and if you find them all, then you win the hunt and you get a prize.”

I gave a thumbs-up to his explanation. And before I could say anything, he quickly piped in.

“But I don’t know how to play a scavenger hunt using the Bible. I’ve never done that before.”

“Well…

…To be continued…in my soon-to-be-released published book!

And, my dear blog readers, I have to let you in on a little secret!

Some of my new book you have already read in my blog!

Over the past two years, I have already been sharing some of my “teacher discoveries” from the scavenger hunt that I shared with my eleven-year-old student. Perhaps you’ve already read some of them.

When my student and I finished our “scavenger hunt” through the book of Psalms, I began writing a blog, sharing with readers, from around the world, various things that I had learned through this challenge with one of my students. I have to tell you that both student and teacher are still learning from our fun way of reading the book of Psalms.

Then my student challenged me even further. “Ms. Kathy, I have been reading all your blog entries. Now I want to challenge you again. I want to see you turn your blog into a book. Can you do that?”

Hmm, a blog into a book? Can I do that? The challenge was on! Again!

What is that old saying, “Where there is a will, there is a way!”

For the past year and a bit, I have been working with WestBow Press to turn the will into a way! They are helping me turn my blog into a book! I picked out twenty-one of my favorite blog entries to include in my published edition. Don’t you wonder which ones I might have picked? Would you like to know if, perhaps, I picked one of your favorite blog entries? I invite you to tell me what your favorite blog entry is that I wrote, and then I will tell you if it’s included in my soon-to-be-released book. Feel free to leave me a comment in the appropriate section; I would love to hear from you!

Need I tell you just how excited I am over this challenge?

I can hardly keep my dancing feet still as the excitement level just went up a few more notches!

A newly written, soon-to-be-released book, by Kathy O’Brien, will be coming your way!

Watch my blog for further details!

The Paths of Life

One of the first blogs I ever wrote. I’m still walking on my path of life that God has ordained for me. I’m still hanging onto the promise of God found in Psalm 16:11. I’m still finding JOY in the journey!

Word of Truth Ministries

“You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fulness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Psalm 16:11 (NKJV)

Paths of Life. We all walk them every day. Every one of us has a different path of life that we are called to walk upon. Sometimes we walk that pathway alone and at some seasons of the journey, others will come and join us for a time upon our pathway. Have you ever considered the path of life that you are now walking?

Paths can be smooth; when everything seems to be going just right. There doesn’t seem to be any problems or stresses, no signs of trouble anywhere in sight, no arguments or disagreements with others on the pathway. Everything is calm, peaceful, happy and even joyful. The walking on such a path is so easy and comfortable; your step is light and…

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Lord, Help Me!

Lord, help me to pray!

Even when I’m feeling tired,

Even when my patience is thin,

Even when the words won’t come,

Even when the hard circumstances are present,

Even when I feel lost!

Lord, help me know that You are there!

Even when I think You are not,

Even when I feel distant from You,

Even when I walk right past You,

Even when I assume You are not listening,

Even when I question Your will and plans!

Lord, help me to turn to You!

In my brokenness,

In complete surrender,

In total trust,

In faith believing,

In acceptance of Your love!

Lord, help me!

Amen.

“Help me, O Lord my God! Oh, save me according to Your mercy”

Psalm 109:26 (NKJV)