What Do Cows Have to Do with It?

I grew up on a ranch. So when I think about meditating on God’s word, I think of rumination.  The dictionary definition of “ruminate” is: 1. to meditate or ponder, or 2. to chew the cud.  Technically, the biblical words for meditation have more to do with repeated murmuring out loud.  However, the idea of ruminating is not far from the essence of that biblical idea.  When one ruminates on face_to_faceScripture, they ponder it over and over.  Whether out loud or to oneself, the repeated pondering of the meaning and application of Scripture is an important discipline to spiritual growth.

This brings me to my ranch experience.  Cattle have several compartments in their stomach by which they digest the plant life they swallow as they graze.  The process of digesting these plants is aided by the cow regurgitating clumps of it, called “cud” and re-chewing.  Cud chewing serves to further break down the fibers of the plants and speed the digestive process.

Actually, “regurgitating” is a nasty way of describing a process that appears to be quite enjoyable for cattle.  Have you ever seen a cow chew its cud?  It appears to be such a relaxing and peace-filled event.  Usually they are lying down.  Their eyes are half-closed, and they are chewing away as if they have no cares in the world.  “Ruminating” is such a nicer word to describe this process.  The cows meditate on the pleasurable experience of chewing their cud, extracting all the nutrients they can out of it.

I like to think of my devotional time as my time to graze on God’s word.  When I SOAP journal my thoughts on a Scripture passage first thing in the morning, I store God’s word in my mind.  In the same way that a cow needs to ruminate what she has put into her stomach, I need to meditate on God’s word that I have placed in my mind.  There are several ways to do that:

  1. Write on an index card the verse or passage on which you journaled.  Carry that index card with you throughout the day and ponder its meaning and applications over and over.  Ask God to give you fresh insight as you go through the day.  Take time to share your insights with others.  Talking out loud about the verse is a great way to solidify in your mind and heart what God is saying to you through it.
  2. Meet with others individually or in groups throughout the week to share your devotional thoughts together.  Let them hear what God is saying to you through your journaling and give the Lord a chance to speak further to you through them.  This week I will meet four different times with different groups of people to share devotional thoughts.
  3. During your devotional time, read your journal entry from the same date the year before.  I do this and it gives me one more opportunity to reflect on the passage and hear how God wants to apply it to me.  It reveals where I have grown and where I still need to grow.

Let your meditation on God’s word be as pleasurable to you as chewing the cud is to a cow.  Enjoy the benefits of extracting every bit of nutrients for growth out of God’s word to you as you can.

What ways of meditating on God’s word work for you?

My Love/Hate Relationship with Scripture Memorization

I enjoy memorizing scripture.  There is something special about hiding God’s word in my heart that I might not sin against him (Psalm 119:11).  What I don’t enjoy, however, is being awakened in the middle of the night by the Holy Spirit and having him use the very scripture I have memorized against me.

That happened to me this week.  I went to bed at peace with the world.  Then about 2:00 a.m. I found myself wide awake, thinking about how I had misled someone and that I needed to confess it and make amends.  I started to rationalize that it wasn’t any big deal: no one was hurt and besides know one would ever find out.  That is when it happened – there it was: “He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy” (Proverbs 28:13).  Why did I have to memorize that verse?  I laid there trying to argue with God, but all I heard was, “Do you want me to prosper you?” and “Do you want mercy?”  How am I supposed to answer those? “No, Lord, I would prefer that you remove your blessing and grace from me.”

The thing about memorizing God’s word is that it is still there when you wake up in the morning.  I might have been able to pass off the middle of the night encounter with God as just an over-active brain on a sleepless night, but there it was again in the morning: “He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy.”

I want to live in the center of God’s will.  I want him to prosper me and I certainly want all of his mercy.  So I am in the process of going to those I deceived and confessing and renouncing my lie to them.  It is embarrassing; it is hard.  However, I keep reminding myself that God’s mercy is so much more wonderful.  Pain and embarrassment is a small price to pay for God’s mercy.

What Application Looks Like

Here is a talk I did several years ago after being laid off.  I hope it will demonstrate why I feel so strongly about engaging the Scriptures on a regular basis.

Be sure to watch Part 2, where I talk about why daily devotions are important.

%d bloggers like this: