Thursday, November 27, 2008

Why We Need Our Shepherd

My Dear Blogging Friends,

Have you ever been so busy that you are tempted to recycle a blog post from the past during a major holiday? I'm guilty! In fact, I just typed in "Thanksgiving" into my blogger search and I have four years of Thanksgiving posts to choose from! Here is one of my favorites: Give Thanks to God.

OK. I'm done. Happy Thanksgiving! (j/k)

Actually, I'm not really done. There is more to write today!

During our Thanksgiving dinner, my family usually goes around the table and shares what they are thankful for. Each of us give our own, individual answers. Most of the time, we state that we are thankful to God, for His mercy and grace for sending Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. We are thankful for parents, children, relatives (well - most of them - heh heh), friends, our fellowship with church members and Bible study group members and our acquaintances. We are thankful that we live in a free nation. We are very thankful to our military that works hard and willingly sacrifices life, limb and time to keep our nation safe.

Today, I want to mention that I am thankful for all of my blogging friends! Each of you have encouraged me and inspired me. Even some of my detractors have helped me to grow as they continue to challenge me here at Talk Wisdom. These are all good things. Challenges keep us alert as to just what might be keeping non-Christians from coming to Christ.

Years ago, I often posted on atheists/agnostics/skeptics message boards. I wanted to find out what makes them "tick," so to speak. Well, the conversations ran the gamut! Many were downright nasty and made every attempt to ridicule me away from posting there anymore. I'm sure many Christians who have visited such boards to share Jesus Christ and God's Word with non-believers experienced similar situations. Occasionally, a nice skeptic would come along and carry on a decent conversation. I loved that. They attacked my "reasons for believing" rather than attacking me, personally, or what they might perceive as my "ignorance for having faith" in Jesus Christ. It was quite refreshing!

We can never know this side of heaven how we, as Christians, may have positively influenced a skeptic to consider (or even reconsider) Jesus Christ.

Does anyone here watch the new show on the Fox News Channel called, "Huckabee"? Recently, the show host, former Arkansas governor, Mike Huckabee, had an interview with Bill Maher - who is a well-know celebrity and atheist. They were discussing Maher's movie, "Religulous." If you have ever seen Maher's HBO talk show, you know that his favorite sport is to insult, degrade, ridicule, disparage, and spew hatred and contempt at anyone who believes in God - especially Christians.

At one point during the conversation, Maher was caught completely off guard when Mike Huckabee agreed that Christians have times of doubt in their lives. Maher couldn't believe that Mike would admit that - especially in front of millions on a national cable T.V. show! Apparently, Maher developed some sort of new respect for Mr. Huckabee, as a person (and former pastor, I might add) because he admitted that Christians are not "perfectly" faithful - which Maher has often suspected all along.

I thought of that incident when I read a portion of Max Lucado's book, "Traveling Light" this morning. In Chapter 3, entitled "I'll Do It My Way" - The Burden of Self-Reliance, Mr. Lucado expands upon Psalm 23:1 - "The LORD is my shepherd."

Towards the end of the chapter, Mr. Lucado writes:


When David, who was a warrior, minstrel, and ambassador for God, searched for an illustration of God, he remembered his days as a shepherd. He remembered how he lavished attention on the sheep day and night. How he slept with them and watched over them.

And the way he cared for the sheep reminded him of the way God cares for us. David rejoiced to say, "The LORD is my shepherd," and in so doing he proudly implied, "I am his sheep."

Still uncomfortable with being considered a sheep? Will you humor me and take a simple quiz? See if you succeed in self-reliance. Raise your hand if any of the following describe you.

You can control your moods. You're never grumpy or sullen. You can't relate to Jekyll and Hyde. You're always upbeat and upright. Does that describe you? No? Well, let's try another.

You are at peace with everyone. Every relationship as sweet as fudge. Even your old flames speak highly of you. Love all and are loved by all. Is that you? If not, how about this description?

You have no fears. Call you the Teflon toughie. Wall Street plummets - no problem. Heart condition discovered - yawn. World War III starts - what's for dinner? Does this describe you?

You need no forgiveness. Never made a mistake. As square as a game of checkers. As clean as grandma's kitchen. Never cheated, never lied, never lied about cheating. Is that you? No?

Let's evaluate this. You can't control your moods. A few of your relationships are shaky. You have fears and faults. Hmmm. Do you really want to hang onto your chest of self-reliance? Sounds to me as if you could use a shepherd. Otherwise, you might end up with a Twenty-third Psalm like this:

I am my own shepherd. I am always in need.
I stumble from mall to mall and shrink to shrink, seeking relief but never finding it.
I creep through the valley of the shadow of death and fall apart.
I fear everything from pesticides to power lines, and I'm starting to act like my mother.
I go down to the weekly staff meeting and am surrounded by enemies.
I go home, and even my goldfish scowls at me.
I anoint my headache with extra-strength Tylenol.
My Jack Daniel's runneth over.
Surely misery and misfortune will follow me, and I will live in self-doubt for the rest of my lonely life.

Why is it that the ones who most need a shepherd resist him so?

Ah, now there is a question for the Van de Veldes of life. Scripture says, "Do it God's way." Experience says, "Do it God's way." Every Scot in heaven begs, "Aye, laddie, do it God's way."

And every so often, we do. And when we do, when we follow the lead of Notre Dieu and keep the driver in the bag, somehow the ball stays in the fairway.

[Note: Earlier in the chapter, Max tells the story of Jean Van de Velde who, rather than taking his caddie's advice to hit three short shots in the British Open in '99 - where he was six strokes and 480 yards away from a major championship, a wad of cash, and a place in history. All he needed to do was score a six on a par four.

Logic says, "Don't go for the green."
Golf 101 says, "Don't go for the green."
Every Scot in the gallery says, "Aye Laddie. Don't go for the green"
Van de Velde says, "I'm going for the green."]

Long story short - Using his driver (no!!!!) the ball caroms off the bleachers and disappears into a marsh tall enough to hide a lawn gnome! To make the story even shorter - he lost the play-off.

[Y]es, Van de Velde reminds me of me.

After losing the play-off, he kept his composure for the crowds. But once he sat in the scorers tent, he buried his face in his hands. "Next time I'll hit zee wedge," he sobbed. "You'll say I'm a coward, but next time I'll hit zee wedge."

You and me both, Jean.1

Reference source: Traveling Light by Max Lucado, 2001 W Publishing Group, a Division of Thomas Nelson Publishers, Inc., P.O. Box 141000, Nashville, Tennessee 37214, pp. 22, 24-26.

End notes:
1, With appreciation to Rick Reilly and his chapter on Jean Van de Velde, "Mon Dieu! Better Safe Than Sorry!" in The Life of Reilly (New York: Total Sports Illustrated, 2000), 175-77.

4 comments:

Stacy Harp said...

As usual, another thoughtful post Christine. I am thankful for your passion, and the purpose with which you write. You inspire me all of the time, not only with your wisdom, but with your wit.

Like you, I have debated many a skeptic or person who doesn't really want to know the truth, and we will never know how HE uses it. We just have to keep doing what HE has called us to.

I missed that episode of Huckabee, but I always think it would be totally cool if Maher got saved. Can you imagine what would happen if he did :)

GMpilot said...

After reading Max Lucado's quiz, I'm beginning to understand why he feels he needs a shepherd. But just because he does, it does not follow that everyone else does.
We are told that God is all-powerful; that his son, Jesus (who is also himself), is the "Good Shepherd", who watches over us, and tends to us, and would never lead us to disaster, and certainly not a disaster of his own making. Right?
Will you humor me and take a simple quiz? See if he succeeds in inspiring confidence. Raise your hand if any of the following describe him.

You can control your moods. Hmm. When the Lord of the Universe can't control his, people die. Just like the kings and emperors of old when they couldn't control their moods.

You are at peace with everyone. I am at peace with most of the world; that is, they are so distant or so unrelated to me that they may be safely ignored. One's deadliest enemies are the ones that are closest. Jesus had it pegged when he threatened to turn family members against each other (Luke 14:26).

You have no fears. God's first fear is described in Genesis, and many of the things he's reportedly done since then also seem to be fear-motivated; the Tower of Babel, for instance. When God is scared, sister, you'd better be scared, too!

You need no forgiveness. If I drew a line in the wrong place, no. If I wore a plaid tie when I should have worn a solid, no. If I caused an excessive number of deaths in battle...yes, because I've hurt their loved ones/survivors. If I have somehow injured a being who could extinguish me wuith less effort than I could blow out a match...no. Particularly since I'm not convinced such a being actually exists.

Let's evaluate this. God can't control his moods. A few of your relationships are induced and maintained by fear. God has fears and faults. Hmmm. Do you really want to hang onto a God who behaves just like a human, but with limitless power, and no restraint? Christians (and non-Christians, too) are always being warned of the impending Dies Irae: for nearly 2000 years all the world has been warned of God's wrath (Revelation 16:1) as well as his alleged love.

Let us never forget the fate of sheep: regularly they get fleeced, and eventually they are killed and eaten. Glory be!

Those sheep who are smart enough to look for a shepherd are smart enough to not need one.

Gary Baker said...

GM,

Your statements above have many logical flaws. For the moment, I have time to deal with only one:

"Those sheep who are smart enough to look for a shepherd are smart enough to not need one."

Many sheep tend to not look for a shepherd until they are at the bottom of a pit or lining up to be wolf-chow. The fact that you say you don't need one hardly demonstrates lack of need. It can easily indicate just the opposite.

Christinewjc said...

Hi Stacy,

Thank you for being such a wonderful and encouraging blogging friend. I appreciate you so much!

There is a lot of scary stuff going on in our world lately. We need to trust in God more than ever.

Those who trust only in themselves (or false gods) are missing the spiritual side of the life that God intends for each of us.

Knowing God's written Word, and especially His Living Word - Jesus Christ - may not give us all of the answers in this life, but it certainly gives us all that we need to know this side of heaven. I am so thankful for even just a peak at such wisdom and knowledge - via the Bible.