Ps 28:7 The Lord is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy, I burst out in songs of thanksgiving.
Years ago, a study showed that people, especially those with devastating or terminal illness responded better to medical treatment if they laugh. I want to take it one-step further to praise. Praise can be as simple as a compliment or approval of a coworker for a job well done or admiration of a friend who did something nice for you like sending a get well card.
As Christians, we know that praise used against spiritual warfare is effective. Satan can use any negative thought or action to bring us down but, complete focus on and praise to the one who controls everything is the power that breaks all those chains. Unbelief is another that can sneak in. When life is trying to bring you down, go to your quiet place, even if is only in your mind, and praise God for everything in your life. Think about all that he is doing for you every minute and PRAISE him.
So many times working in NICU, having a bad day would cause me to stop and think about what was really going on. Perhaps a medication dose needed to be changed or maybe the noise level of the room was overwhelming the baby. Taking a minute or even a break to clear my mind, I started praising God and thanking him for all the times, he brought me through worse situations. Before long I would go back not only feeling better but also have the ability and strength to complete the task that was causing so many problems. As I reflect on my career, I just have to praise him again for all the times he helped me and realize that he was with me every day as I cared for his tiniest little sheep.


Ps 23:4 Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and staff protect and comfort me.

God’s “rod and staff” are extremely important to our spiritual growth in today’s volatile climate. Not only spiritual but also political, social and economic issues we deal with on a daily basis can be difficult to filter through to see the truth of what God is doing in this world. We need discipline and guidance, without it we get lost. Discipline is one of the most important traits a person can learn and without guidance, we get lost.
The Hebrew word “shebet” translates to both rod and staff. It can also mean “club.” The top end of the Shepherd’s staff usually has a “crook” or hook on it to help the shepherd catch, control and guide his sheep. In biblical times, a staff was a first choice for traveling for its usefulness as a walking stick and a weapon. The staff was also symbolic of God’s authority. Our Great Shepherd Jesus leads us in the way we should go and the decisions we make. That is to lead us with love, not hit us over the head even though sometimes it feels like it.
The rod was also used as a symbol of correction and discipline metaphorically speaking. This is an expression of love. Love disciplines. The opposite of love is not hate, but indifference. If God did not love us and want the best for us, he would let us wander off a cliff. His rod is needed to protect us from enemies and his staff is to keep us close to him.
We need to use the metaphorical rod and staff on ourselves and those we love on a regular basis. Without self-discipline, our lives would be a shamble. Without rules and laws our world will be chaos.