Psalm 26-28

“Blessed be the LORD! For He has heard the voice of my pleas for mercy. The LORD is my strength and my shield; in Him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to Him.” (28:6-7‬)

I must admit, mercy isn’t something I regularly pray for. Vindication, yes; mercy, no. Recently this fact has slapped me in the face. Who do I think I am?

I like to point out my righteousness as a reason God should answer me, much like David does in 26:1. I love justice, but suddenly, I really love mercy.

The popular verse in Micah 6:8 orders as such:

  • DO justly
  • LOVE mercy
  • WALK humbly

These really tie into each other. Doing justly can often lead to pride and the desire to “bring someone down so justice can be served”. Mercy and humility fly out the window.

If I’ve learned anything from working here in Greece, it’s that I am a mess, a sinner, in desperate need of a savior. There’s a lot of uneducated elbows bumping, over here, as many unqualified people (such as myself) rush to answer a very complex, advanced issue. The battle between volunteers, NGOs, the UN, churches, etc. is weird and certainly the worst part. I cannot forget to walk humbly.

I frequently receive encouraging messages from friends and family, showering me with praise for the amazing things I’m doing, and I’ve gotta say, I don’t deserve it. I’m making mistakes. Who knows what’s helping and what’s hurting? I’m not a professional. At best, I’m a strange friend. Sometimes I’m afraid to come home because people will realize just how much of a not hero I really am.

My soul is tired. I spend a lot of time stressed and angry. I don’t even know if I’m mad at the right people. I’m coming home a broken person and right about now I love mercy.

I haven’t been merciful, I’ve been judgemental. And now I find myself praying as the tax collector in Luke 18:13 crying, “Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner!” Thankfully, Jesus says that tax collector goes home justified.

Today my heart sings praises of thankfulness to my LORD, my shield, who has heard my plea for mercy.

There’s no being selective about who receives mercy. There’s no favoritism on who receives justice. There’s no one excused from humility. Even Jesus was humble (Philippians 2:6-8).

Yes, sometimes God answers us, because we have walked in righteousness. But hallelujah, He answers us, because He is merciful.


Psalm 23-25

I wake up, moving a little slower than usual. I pour cold cream in warm coffee and lower myself into couch. It’s raining out. I’m dreading my list of chores; my back aches and I didn’t sleep well. I reach for my phone, scrolling through emails, text messages, images of couples from Valentine’s Day yesterday on Instagram.

I field a few work emails. One requesting urgent prayer for the repercussions of a long draught in East Africa, leaving a children’s home temporarily without water. I open up my prayer list to add it to the top and my eyes move down the list. A wonderful man riddled with cancer. Millions of people across the world seeking refugee. Someone who unexpectedly lost their job. A woman facing her third miscarriage.

I set my phone aside and open the leather cover on my Bible. My fingers find the bookmark and I open to the Psalms. My tired eyes scan the first words of today’s reading:

“The Lord is my Shepherd, I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name. Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me.” 23:1-4

We have all that we need? What about those without water? Those fleeing their homes in fear for their lives globally? With failing health or with grief weighing them down with boulder-like strength?

I want to tie this post up in a bow. But the truth is, this is the journey we are all on with God. There’s not immunity from sorrow, trouble or dark, winding valleys. But there is a Great Shepherd, quenching our thirst, feeding our hunger, guiding our paths and calming our fears. He parts seas. He walks on water. He brings in the clouds, he clears them away. He is sovereign over water. Over weather. Over war. Over marriage. Over birth. Over death.

Is your heart heavy today? Bury it deep inside these promises:

The Lord is our shepherd, we have what we need: Him. His presence in our lives meets all our needs. It conquers every fear, it heals every broken heart and it hears every prayer.






Psalm 20-22

“Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God. They collapse and fall, but we rise and stand upright.” (‭20:7-8‬)

Replace chariots and horses with nuclear power and the American military and think on this verse again.

We, in the west, are obsessed with safety. One of my professors in Bible college suggested safety was the true American God. I wasn’t ready to go that far, but the assertion has stayed with me.
“Be exalted, O LORD, in Your strength! We will sing and praise Your power.” (‭21:13‬)

How do I exalt the strength and power of the LORD? I can say I trust in Him, and cover myself in these words like a warm, fuzzy blanket, but David wrote many Psalms while hiding in a cave, running for his life. Is my trust anything like David’s?

There have been many moments in my life where I’ve been deeply shaken and this song has filled my mouth:

“On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.”

This usually slips out when I realize I was standing on something sinking and in that moment of panic, grab the Rock.

The LORD left instructions, in Deuteronomy 17 for the future kings of Israel, and verse 16 tells them not to get horses from Egypt. Don’t return to Egypt for help. Didn’t you see me destroy them without any help from horses or your common military tactics? I will continue to fight for you. Trust in me, not earthly strategies. 

What are my safety nets? What back up plan have I set up just in case the LORD lets me fall? This wouldn’t work in a marriage; keeping secret bank accounts and separate social circles. Am I doing that with the LORD?

To be sure, there are areas of my life I have grown to trust the LORD with; but other areas remain. What are yours? What is keeping you us from trusting Him, the Only Solid Rock?

Be glorified in us as we trust you, LORD!



Psalm 17-19

Wasn’t chapter 18 great?

“You rescue the humble, but you humiliate the proud. You a light a lamp for me, The Lord, my God, lights up my darkness.”

“You have made a wide path for my feet to keep them from slipping. I chased my enemies and caught them; I did not stop until they were conquered.”

“You gave me victory over my accusers.”

Reading intimate descriptions of David’s interpersonal relationship with God is so inspiring. I grew up going to church in the 90’s. There was a lot of emphasis in youth group on how Jesus was cool, laid back and relational. Praying to him felt easy. The Holy Spirit was portrayed as tangible.

But I’m trying to imagine David’s God. It was definitely a more formal time, religion more prominent than relationship. Before Jesus. Before the Holy Spirit intervened. Yet still, he pens deeply emotional words to his God. He writes that He is always with him, that he bends down to listen to his mere mortal words.

David doesn’t write that life is perfect. He writes about needing rescuing, about his darkness, his enemies and accusers.

I’m so encouraged by David’s relationship with God. I wonder if he had any idea that his songs and journal entries would be read by millions of people for thousands of years. Praising God can be a ministry in itself. And these days, we have plenty of platforms to do so. Is God lighting up your darkness, answering your prayers, going before you and catching your slipping feet? Share that with someone. Follow up with friends who have been praying for you.

May our hard circumstances bring glory to God, advance the gospel and encourage the disheartened.






Psalm 13-16

“But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation.” (13:5)

Learning to trust the Lord should be easy, but instead it feels more like a scared, upward climb (like Much Afraid in Hinds Feet on High Places, right Mackenzie?). Why do I ever fight it? These last few years the LORD has been rooting out a lot of fears. I asked Him to show me what He means when He says “perfect love casts out fear” and He’s been more than happy and accommodating to do so. 

Our enemy can use practically anything to scare us and it doesn’t help that American society has become built on fear. Insurance companies own us all. 

This doesn’t leave a ton of room for “heart rejoicing”, but I SAY WE TAKE BACK OUR JOY! Trust the LORD! Ask Him to let His perfect love cast out your fear! One of my personal rules is to never make an important decision based on fear. We serve a loving Creator God. I have to remind myself of this all the time, so let’s all remind each other!

“You evildoers frustrate the plans of the poor, but the Lord is their refuge.” (14:6)

Again. I’m going to rejoice every time I come across verses about the LORD Himself being a refuge and advocate for the poor. It’s beautiful and hopeful and I love it.

Okay, I bonus-swiped chapter 16 from Carly because it’s maybe my favorite chapter in the Bible. It rings true through my who body. 

  • Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge. He has kept me, defying opportunity after opportunity for me to die. I hide in Him and He hides me.
  • I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you.” He is the source of every good thing that’s ever happened to me. He thrills me with wonderful gifts and deep satisfaction. Nothing dear to me finds its origin anywhere else.
  • As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones, in whom is all my delight. My Montavilla family, my many summers of co-workers at Tadmor, my fellow YWAMers, friends from college, partners in ministry. If you’ve met me, you’ve heard me rave about these people. All my delight sounds exactly right. 
  • The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. He Himself is my prize. He gives me incredible opportunities. The more I surrender to Him the more I gain. 
  • The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance. My boundaries are international! He hems me in an tucks me in everywhere I fall asleep. But my favorite gift of all was something I had no control over and that was being born into my Cetti family and being raised by my parents and Montavilla in SE Portland.
  • I bless the Lord who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me. He has always given me elaborate, sometimes prophetic, funny, advanturous dreams. He is with me in those too. Isn’t He also great at calming us down with a good night’s skeep?
  • I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. Any time I’ve felt shaken, it’s always been a moment I took my eyes off Him. Then I remember this verse and grab His right hand.

Okay, I think you get the picture. I challenge you to put yourself into this Psalm. Go through it, prayerfully and consider how it can also be a song for you. Or pick another Psalm, but it helps to personalize them with your own life experiences. 


Psalm 10-12

“O Lord, why do you stand so far away?”

Are you in a season where God seems uninvolved or absent? 

Have you ever felt like your prayers seem to echo back to you in a vast, empty space? 

Or, do you feel God as present as warm sun on your back, but wonder why you hear the cries of others begging for him in darkness? 

These are big, sometimes unanswerable questions. And they’re okay to ask. 

My favorite analogy of God is as a mountain. Where I live, I can see at least three mountains off in the distant, but not every day. Sometimes the sky is clear and I have a beautiful crisp view of them. Their existence is undeniable and powerful. Other times, clouds block my view. But still, the mountains are there, even when I can’t see them. I’ve heard myself say several times to visiting friends, “Mt. Hood is just over there, but you can’t see it now”. They rely on the description of my experience.

Excuse my contrived writing; you get where I’m going with this. If you can’t see God right now: take heart. He is still there. Look back on the times his presence was bold and clear and remember. 

David’s not afraid to ask God why he’s so distant. But both before and after he says that, he proclaims truths about God. This is a beautiful, healthy form of prayer. 

This morning, tell God how you’re feeling. If he’s near to you, give prayers of thanks. If he feels far or negligent, talk to him about it. But either way, remind yourself what is true about God. I love this verse from today:

“Lord, you know the hopes of the helpless. Surely you will hear their cries and comfort them.” 10:17

Psalm 7-9

“When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?” (8:3-4)

I wonder this a lot. Why does He care about us so much? Aren’t we a really small part of creation and prone to destruction? But there He is, relentlessly loving us, even crowning us with glory. 

I’m always a little embarrassed when I bump into my “works based acceptance” mentality. Shouldn’t I act accordingly to the grace that’s been bestowed on me? Shouldn’t I rise to the position I’ve been so graciously given? Yes, but no. I’ve got to stop ascribing value based on productivity.

Because look:

“But God will never forget the needy; the hope of the afflicted will never perish.” (9:18)

He prioritized the helpless. God does not help those who help themselves. That’s a garbage phrase. He is a Good Shepherd who dutifully cares for His sheep. Sheep are not innovative and they sure aren’t asked to pull carts. Their usefulness falls squarely on the wool they mindlessly grow and their edibility. Both God-created and sustained attributes. 

Value is value. I am valuable because I am made in God’s image and bought with Chrsits blood.

Do you know, today I started going to the “dark place” because I stayed home? A lot of our work with the refugees has changed and I’m needing to be patient as we get into another camp, then also share my work load with DTS students needing ministry hours. 

People aren’t supporting me to be inside all day. Okay, Bethany. Calm down. Also, what do I think about everyone else in the world who stayed home today?

“You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor. You made them rulers over the works of your hands; you put everything under their feet:” (8:5-6)

He first gave us glory and honor, then gave us a task: stewarding creation. 

Oh Lord, cover me with your grace. Help me to be gracious with myself and others. Teach us all to adore you and look to you for our value and purpose. Give us your compassion for the needy.


Psalm 4-6

I have trouble sleeping. I wake up almost every night for an hour or so and lay awake. Thoughts and worries start trickling in. (Or, lyrics to a song I can’t quite remember.)

This verse has so much meaning to me:

“In peace, I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, O Lord, will keep me safe.” 4:8

David pretty much had the weight of the world on his shoulders most of his life. The beginning of chapter four tells us that he’s troubled, ganged up on and being personally attacked when he wrote these words. Being able to lie down and sleep at a time like that is peace that surpasses our understanding. That is exactly what we’re promised in Philippians 4:7.

What keeps you up at night, or what are you deeply concerned about?

How do we achieve the type of trust that David has in God during troubled times? 

Jesus is such a relatable God. He’s laid awake, feeling weighted with agony. He’s stayed up all night praying. He’s asked God to take things from him, in which God told him no. Satan lies to us and tells us we’re alone. He baits us to worry and feeds our fears. But we are not alone!

We are offered perfect peace from whatever we’re burdened by. I know that, yet still I worry. Let’s grab a hold of that peace. David doesn’t react out of emotions (at least this chapter), but he writes a psalm and invites God into his worries. He proclaims what is true about God, even if maybe he momentarily doubts it. Most importantly, he remembers the harvest.

“You have given me greater joy than those who have abundant harvests of grain and new wine.” 

Remembering God’s faithfulness is such a vital piece to trusting in God and experiencing peace.

The next time anxiety clouds your thought life, remember. Think about a time God was with you, or answered a prayer, or tangibly supported you. Look back on a part of the Bible that encourages you to be faithful (Hebrews 11 is a great summary).

“Be anxious about nothing, but in everything, by prayer and petition and with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which surprises all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7





Psalm 1-3

“Blessed is the one… whose delight is in the law of the LORD, and who meditates on His law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither— whatever they do prospers.” (1:2-3‬)
It’s my greatest ambition to be this person. Rooted and established as Paul might say. Our best successes are found in trusting Him, knowing Him, meditating on what He says. 

“Blessed are all who take refuge in Him.” (2:12)

Him being the Son, being Jesus. I love the word refuge: A condition of being safe or sheltered from pursuit, danger, or trouble. 

My soul has places of refuge: my parent’s house, Camp Tadmor, the couch of a great friend, Montavilla, the Colombia River Gorge and other such forested locales in Oregon. Life is crazy, our souls distressed, and we all are looking for a safe place. Maybe this is why I’m drawn to refugees: terrorized people, looking for safety, hope and rest; seeking asylum from affliction. I love to be hospitable and a safe place for people, but the safest place for us all is Christ. He is a refuge for the soul, every where man can go. 

“But you, LORD, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high. I call out to the LORD, and He answers me from His holy mountain.” (3:3-4‬)

I am very glad to be in the Psalms. As you see, I did 3 today instead of 2, because they’re short and you may notice some improvising on this (we won’t do three chapters the day including 119, I know you were all immediately distressed about that). 

I find myself regularly grasping for the LORD and scrambling into the refuge of Jesus. I need His word every day and still, I don’t think I’m getting enough. I am so glad He is ever present. That His word is (partially) hidden in my heart and (exhaustively) on an app in my phone. 

Spend time with the Son today. Sit in His refuge. Soak up the nutrients of His Word. I will be remembering the futility of being a refuge on my own. I can ONLY point to the Son. This has been my lesson of the week, remembering to get out of the way, so Christ can be the true satisfaction answer. Also remembering to spend time in His refuge myself. When I call out He answers me, and that’s incredible.


Hebrews 13

Since we only have one chapter this morning as we close out Hebrews, I recommend reading it through twice. There’s a lot packed in and it seems like a daunting to-do list at first. But look at this first sentence:

“Continue to love each other with true Christian love.” True, godly love produces all these tangible actions. It’s not a religious check list. The more we become like Christ, the more easily we start to bend our lifestyles towards the gospel. As our hearts become softened, God pulls us towards certain things. I cannot imagine serving in a refugee camp like Bethany is right now. As her trip winds down, Bethany cannot imagine coming home. Several families I know have a revolving door of foster kids in their home and I say how? I admire the team of men determined to take down sex-trafficking in my city, and who work hard to do so. Yes, we are all called to fight against injustice, defend the orphaned and have mercy on the marginalized. But sometimes I’m still just trying to learn to love people well, or “be content with what I have” (13:5), let alone take on a prison ministry. God beautifully orchestrates his work in different ways and calls different people to different things. And there are opportunities evvvvverywhere.

But it all starts with love. My Bible commentary asked me: “Does your relationship with God run deep enough to affect your hospitality, empathy, fidelity and contentment?”

What specific avenue has God called you to? What breaks your heart or stirs you up? Dust off that soap box. Start praying for ways to act on it. You’ll be amazed at how quickly God paves wide, open highways to take you to places he wants you to go.

Spend time this morning in prayer. Is there something you’re passionate about? What would be your ideal way to serve in that area? Ask for it!



We are excited to be starting the book of Psalms tomorrow!