Life in Community: Learning to Love Extravagantly


While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of a man known as Simon the Leper,  a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table.  When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. “Why this waste?” they asked.  “This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.”  Aware of this, Jesus said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me.  The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me.  When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial.  I tell you the truth, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”  – Matthew 26:6-13 (NIV)

In October of 2001, I was privileged to work with others at Ground Zero during the recovery efforts.  I was careful during my time away to call my 1 ½-year-old daughter every day to stay in touch.  However, this plan did not end up working out so well. About day four, she had grown quite tired of talking to me on the phone and wanted to know when I was coming home.  By day five she was no longer speaking to me and Mommy was dealing with many tears at night about Daddy being gone. I returned home after my two-week tour and was met at the airport by my wife and little girl.  As soon as she saw me, any thoughts of anger vanished in tears and excited cries of “Daddy! Daddy!”

She ran through that airport completely unaware and certainly unashamed of her extravagant display of emotion.  We held each other and cried and laughed and hugged and kissed and didn’t care a whit about what anyone thought.  For a moment the rest of the world didn’t exist.  This is the beauty of life among believers.  This is the power of fellowship.  We learn to love God with such abandon and extravagance in the presence of our spiritual family that we grow more capable of expressing it where less understanding eyes will see.

It is years later and I have not yet reached that point in my relationship with that once little girl where she is embarrassed to be seen with me.  I hope that I never will, but it causes me to ask the question, “Am I ever ashamed to express my love for God?”  I read the passage above and wonder if I would have loved Jesus enough to overcome my fears and doubts.  I wonder if I am more driven by self-preservation than I am by compassion and devotion.  Fortunately my current spiritual family is more than willing to seek an extravagant love for God together.

I want to worship God with abandon.  I want to weep with tears of deliverance.  I want to laugh with heartfelt joy.  I want to kneel at the feet of my Father and worship Him as He sees fit.  While the thought of this sometimes causes me to fear, I am assured that “perfect love casts out fear.”  There are not words to express the comfort and courage that are gained by knowing I am surrounded by others who desire the same experience.  We want to love God more than we love our reputations, more than we love our possessions, more than we love anything that this world has to offer.

So what is your alabaster jar?  What is it that you need to give up in order to love God as He deserves to be loved?  Who is it that looks with mocking eyes on your faith?  What price are you willing to pay in order to worship without shame? To be honest, I’m still working on answering those questions myself, but I am sure that I want to know the answers.

Life in Community: It’s Unity, Not Uniformity


Introduction: The service at church today was focused in on the larger part of this passage in Ephesians and really hit home with me.  I need to get busy being the body of Christ with others.  It was a great word and a great service.  If you are interested, you can hear the sermon after Wednesday this week at www.Risenking.org.

It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built upuntil we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.  Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming.  Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.  From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
Ephesians 4:11-16 (NIV)

Every day I realize two things: my daughters and I are very similar and very different.  It is an amazing thing to see pieces of your character and personality in the actions, words and expressions of your children, but it is even more amazing to see those unique creations reveal their individuality.  I am finding that it is more my job to help my daughters discover who it is God has designed them to be than telling them who to be.

Let me be clear: I am not saying that discipline is never employed on either of them, but much of that is regarding what she is doing or why she is doing it, not who she is.  I am humbled that God has entrusted this responsibility to me and my wife.  Our only hope in being successful is to do all of this together, in unity.  In fact, it is only through a strong unity that we will be able to guide our daughters into becoming strong and whole individuals.

So it is with our church family.  The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are in perfect unity and we have been adopted into that unity through Christ’s sacrifice.  However, it is only our participation in this unity that will bring us to maturity as individuals.  I will even go so far as to say that it is nearly impossible to be a mature Christian without practicing the “unity” in community.

In the passage above, it is clear that Paul recognizes the uniqueness of each believer, while confirming the unity necessary to attain maturity.  We need to remember that He gave us to one another.  In this passage and others, Paul employs the illustration of the body to describe the greater community of Christians.  It is important to note that no single part of the body exists for its own benefit, but for the benefit of the whole body.

If it is my desire to see my daughters become mature in Christ then I must live this model of community out in front of them and with them.  This requires a change of perspective from my younger days of personal goals and dream jobs and my wants being met.  My life is theirs (and my wife’s).  I am working toward Paul’s confession, “He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. (2 Corinthians 5:15 NIV)  A community of strong, unique, and mature believers is rooted in selflessness, so help us, Lord, to be more about the body and less about ourselves.

Life in Community: The Place of Holiness


Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance.  But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”
1 Peter 1:13-16 (NIV)

There is an assumption that to be holy, one must be alone or at least surrounded by other people who like to be alone.  When we think of titles like “Holy man” or “Holy one,” images of quiet men in robes living on a mountain top come to mind.  While I would never dismiss the discipline and dedication that is shown by that lifestyle, I am not sure that it is the pinnacle of holiness.

Jesus, The Holy One, was engaged and connected to those around Him.  His moments of solitude and prayer are notable, but they were not where He stayed.  His ministry is marked by movements from isolation to intervention; from stillness to action; from quietness to proclamation.  It is obvious that Jesus did not need His time intervening, acting and proclaiming to spend time alone, but used His time of isolation, stillness and quietness to prepare for moments of engagement.

Our movements should follow the same pattern.  Our solitude, silence and prayers with God inform and transform us to then move into the world.  Holiness may be forged in the disciplines that set us apart to God, but it is expressed in the activities of community and fellowship.  My daughter has been learning to pray regularly, read her devotions, seek God in quiet moments and learn what it is to be His child, but I want her to know that these are just doors to living a holy life with and among others.  She needs to understand that to “Be still and know that I am God” needs to lead her to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19 NRSV)

Holiness matters to God, but life in community helps make holiness matter to others.  We can be holy in isolation, but it is hard to be salt and light in isolation.  God’s holiness does not stay in heaven, but invades this present life through His kingdom and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.  When we are holy as He is holy, our holiness does not stay somewhere inaccessible to those around us.  It is engaged in the lives of others through a mind prepared for action.  It is empowered by the fullness of hope we have through grace.  It is the cure for the sin in our lives.  Holiness together for each other and the glory of God.

Life in Community: The Humility of Christ


Praise the LORD! Sing to the LORD a new song, his praise in the assembly of the faithful.  Let Israel be glad in its Maker; let the children of Zion rejoice in their King.  Let them praise his name with dancing, making melody to him with tambourine and lyre.  For the LORD takes pleasure in his people; he adorns the humble with victory.
Psalms 149:1-4 (NRSV)

A man’s pride brings him low, but a man of lowly spirit gains honor.
Proverbs 29:23 (NIV)

“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Matthew 11:28-30 (NRSV)

My youngest daughter is selfish.  This is not a surprise to me, as my first daughter had the same characteristic when she was that young.  This is not intended as a condemnation, but a statement of fact.  We all start out selfish and must be shown what it is to be gracious, patient, kind and helpful.  It takes time to learn how to be humble.

I think that is one of the reasons the Me Generation earned their moniker; we were the first generation who were told our rights were more important than our responsibilities.  We were sold on feeding our appetites and satisfying our desires.  We were the front end of the marketing industries guinea pigs.  In the process we have gained an enormous love for ourselves, but have lost the riches of community, service and sacrifice.

When I think of my daughters being selfish, my first prayer is that it will never turn into pride.  Right now they just want what they want.  If my wife and I don’t discipline in the right way, not only will they want what they want, they will exact whatever price necessary from others to get it.  This is the destructive nature of pride.  Where humility lightens our load, pride weighs us down and brings us low.

Jesus invites us into community through the doorway of humility.  His example through His horrific humiliation on the cross should help us daily maintain a humble perception of ourselves.  When we consider that Christ laid down His life to provide salvation for all of mankind, regardless of how many would choose to accept it, we must bow our heads, bend our knees and surrender our hearts.

Humility is one of the central changes that must occur in the life of the believer.  It is transforming, changing our motivation for the things we do and say.  Instead of wondering “What’s in it for me?” we ask, “What’s in me that God can use?”  We shift from loving others as a means of showing how spiritual we are to loving others because we truly see their beauty and value through Christ’s eyes.  Humility gets us out of the way so Christ can get to others through us more effectively.

While the Me Generation was told, “Even if you were the only person in the world, Christ still would have died on the Cross for your sins” the real power of the gospel says, “For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.  And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.” (2 Cor. 5:14-15 NIV)

Christ died for all.  That is amazing grace.  That is awesome love.  That is power through humility.  This is the kind of humility I want for my daughters.  Not a humility that roots itself in self-abasement and Eeyore-like demeanors, but a humility born of assurance and confidence.  This godly humility comes from a clear understanding that we no longer have any worries and can therefore put other’s needs ahead of our own.  My daughter is showing the signs of humility and I am so happy to see it take root in her heart.

Unfortunately, I am not humble as Jesus is humble.  It is a discipline and I am still working on it every day.  I am still learning how to make sacrifices that cost me without demanding any sacrifice from others.  I am still discovering the lengths to which God is willing to go to help me live the life of Christ.  God is still showing to me in small and great ways how immeasurably big He is and how finite I am.  The next time my daughter throws a fit about not getting what she wants, I will try to remind myself not to do the same thing with my heavenly Father.

Life in Community: Everyone is Broken


During our small group meeting a gentleman shared about his recent journey to the Philippines and the life changing experiences he had there.  One of the most powerful truths he saw during his visit was the importance and influence of community.  It reminded me of some blog posts I did about two years ago on living life in community and so I submit them again for your perusal.  I will be posting the series again over the next two weeks while I am working on a set of posts about Acts.  I hope that this series is a blessing to you.

Everyone who believes has God’s approval through faith in Jesus Christ. There is no difference between people.  Because all people have sinned, they have fallen short of God’s glory.
Romans 3:22-23 (GW)

“If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:1-4 NIV)

My daughter asked me one day why people do bad things and I quickly replied, “Some people are just bad.”  It was a lazy answer, certainly wrong and dreadfully insensitive, but in the moment it satisfied the ponderings of a seven-year-old little girl.  Fortunately the Holy Spirit wouldn’t let me get away with such bad theology – and bad parenting – and kept bringing me back to her question.  Why do people do bad things?

I came across the passage in Philippians 2 one day soon after the conversation with my daughter (it is one of my favorites), and the words jumped out at me.  Obviously my view of “bad” people was not in line with what Jesus desired of me, especially in light of Paul’s words in Romans 3.  Somewhere I had let a false perception creep into my thinking and it had skewed how I thought of others.  The devastating realization was that I had in essence told my little girl she was a bad person.

I have always enjoyed the writings of C.S. Lewis and his essay, “The Weight of Glory” is one I need to return to from time to time.

“It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare.”

It is very easy to lump people into categories and affix our labels and go about our lives in the comfort of our well-organized world.  However, if we are looking for a better life, a richer experience of God’s presence, a deeper understanding of His love at work in our lives and the lives of others we will change our perception of what humanity is and what it can be.  When we understand that each of us will either be forever broken or forever made whole, we should be motivated to work toward the one and work against the other.  Instead we think we are okay because of how bad someone else is or because we are good at hiding our own brokenness.

After reflecting on these passages, I had to sit down with my daughter and explain that people do bad things because they are broken and that all of us are broken.  It was a simple conversation and a simple explanation, but her education in this area will advance with years.  She needs to know that we are all broken, that we all do bad things, and that it is the love of God that heals us and makes us whole; that in loving Him we find the grace and mercy to love ourselves and others because His love is greater than our own.  She will need to know that brokenness is not an excuse for our transgressions.  I will need to teach her that humility is the key to loving other people in the midst of their brokenness.  I will try to show her that it is a far great thing to be better for the sake of others than it is to be better than others.  I will try to show her what it looks like to move toward wholeness so she will know her way along the journey.

Gardening Tips: Fallow Ground


For six years you shall sow your land and gather in its yield; but the seventh year you shall let it rest and lie fallow, so that the poor of your people may eat; and what they leave the wild animals may eat. You shall do the same with your vineyard, and with your olive orchard. – Exodus 23:10-11 (NRSV)

In the years before chemical fertilizers and horticultural sciences, it was common practice to let fields rest so that the soil could replenish and recover.  There are still many places that rotate their crops from field to field so that each crop is getting the nutrients needed for a good harvest.  This is something God has wired into us; a need for rest to replenish and restore. For the people of Israel it was a necessary and vital part of their culture; for us it is a necessary and vital part of our spiritual growth and health.

We used planters this year for growing most of our garden.  We used some of the same soil we did the last two years and thought it would be enough to mix in some compost, but we had to use far more fertilizer than normal to keep our garden going.  The soil we used was tired.  It knew it, but we did not.  As believers we need to be attentive to the soil of our hearts to know when it needs to rest, replenish and restore.

One of the most important ways to practice this is holding to a weekly Sabbath.  This is certainly any area of improvement needed for me, but I believe it is endemic to our current American culture.  We have sleep aids, technology that keeps us constantly connected and entertainment that draws us away from rest to busyness.  We need to overcome our culture and claim the rest that God has prepared for us.  We need to make holy for ourselves what God has said is holy.

Rest is not easy for most of us.  It is a discipline because we can always think of something we could or “should” be doing.  This is the handiwork of the enemy and a broken world.  There is never anything more important than doing the will of God and the Sabbath sits firmly in the center of His will.  It is the practice of the Sabbath that prepares our hearts for the fresh crop, for new seed, for the tiller in the hand of God preparing our hearts for the next season.

Lord, help us be a people of the Sabbath, resting in Your presence and power.  Let us cast aside every care and worry, trusting wholly in You to provide all we need.  You are the Lord of the harvest, but also the Lord of the Sabbath and we want to be Your subjects on that day.  Amen.

Gardening Tips: Count Your Blessings Together


Blessed are all who fear the LORD, who walk in his ways.

You will eat the fruit of your labor; blessings and prosperity will be yours.

Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your sons will be like olive shoots around your table.

Thus is the man blessed who fears the LORD. – Psalms 128:1-4 (NIV)

I just finished making a batch of zucchini bread and a batch of squash bread and I have to tell you, eating the fruit of you labors is good….really good.  Tomatoes with more flavor than a juicy steak, strawberries with just the right balance of sweet and tart, and the blessing of watching my family enjoy these products from the field.  Good times.

It challenges me to find that same blessing in our life together with God.  Sometimes we all can get on our own track, concerned with the burdens of our life and responsibilities and forget about what God provides.    We don’t count our blessings nearly enough as we should.  We get overcome by our own burdens and focused on how we can take care of ourselves.  We become less like family and more like roommates.

The amazing thing about working toward the harvest is that you get to eat the fruit and share the experience.  Not only do we appreciate the bounty of the work, but we can bear one another up in the process.  I am grateful for all our garden has provided this year, but I will take laughter and conversation at the table where its fruit is eaten any day of the week.  The problem is that I don’t always do that.  I get focused on my own life and problems and forget to enjoy the blessings that are sitting at the table with me.

Lord, help me have eyes to see the blessings around me every day, especially the beautiful family you have given me.  Grow in me a desire to bless them and encourage them in their journey with You.  Make us a family marked by love and respect for one another. Amen.

Read the Directions: Please Wash Your Hands


Who may ascend the hill of the LORD? Who may stand in his holy place?
He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to an idol or swear by what is false.
He will receive blessing from the LORD and vindication from God his Savior. – Psalms 24:3-5 (NIV)

Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.  As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance.  But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” – 1 Peter 1:13-16 (NIV)

There is a Seinfeld episode where Jerry is on a date at a restaurant when he runs into the chef in the bathroom.  When the chef, Papi, leaves the bathroom, he does so without washing his hands.  Given Jerry’s phobic tendencies about germs, hilarity ensues when Papi brings their food to the table.  I have to admit my own unease with that kind of situation.  There are appropriate times and places for cleanliness, and preparing food for others certainly fits the bill.

When discussing salvation, I have heard the phrase, “You don’t have to clean up for a bath.”   The idea is that since God will clean you up in the work of salvation that you don’t need to clean up your sin first.  This is a true and correct perspective because we cannot clean up our own sin.  But once saved, we can maintain cleanliness.  It is one thing to ask someone to wash their hands before preparing food at a restaurant, but can you imagine if they had to take a shower every time they came back into the kitchen?

We need to be clean.  It is healthy, makes us feel better and certainly is considerate for those around us with sensitive noses.  In the same way, purity of spirit is healthy, makes us feel better and gives us the ability to “consider others as more important than ourselves.”  There is a cleansing we are given and there is a cleanliness we maintain.  One we receive that removes the stain of sin and one helps keep us from sin.

Too often we wait for the bath.  We wait until the dirt and grime of un-confessed sin has built up and the Spirit convicts us to seek cleansing.  Been there, done that (more than once).  By the grace and mercy of God, we are forgiven and made new, but maturity and purity ask us to grow strong and true so that we remain clean.  We all fall.  We all come short, but in the pursuit of holiness, we can find ourselves falling less and coming closer to the mark.  A daily discipline of cleanliness can help us in this pursuit.

Confession and repentance are the cleansing steps we take toward purity.  When we make them a daily discipline, we set ourselves apart for something better than a cycle of deprivation and redemption.  This is the life I want and hope for and struggle after.  This is the life God’s holiness calls me to.  This is the life God gently reminds me of in the moments I need a bath.  Lord, help me to be holy as you are holy.  Give me clean hands and a pure heart.  Amen.

The Shepherd and the Sheep: Minding Our Manners


“As for you, my flock, this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I will judge between one sheep and another, and between rams and goats. Is it not enough for you to feed on the good pasture? Must you also trample the rest of your pasture with your feet? Is it not enough for you to drink clear water? Must you also muddy the rest with your feet? Must my flock feed on what you have trampled and drink what you have muddied with your feet?” – Ezekiel 34:17-19

Many of you may have heard the name Harold Camping of late, and the repeated predictions of the rapture.  You might have also taken note that the rapture did not occur this past weekend and will not occur on his newly predicted date.  Harold Camping fits squarely into the false prophet category; one that tramples the pasture and muddies the waters.  His hopscotch approach to interpreting scripture has damaged scores of believers, and brings ridicule from those who disdain Christianity.

It is easy to look at someone like this and blame him for the negativity that people we know have toward Christianity.   We may even find ourselves saying something like, “He’s the kind of guy that makes Christians look bad.”  The problem is that your non-Christian friends probably felt ambivalence toward Christianity before they had ever heard of Harold Camping.  The real problem is the sheep in the mirror.

I know that there have been plenty of times, through action or word, that I have trampled the pasture and muddied the waters.  My life did not reflect the shepherd or the life of the pasture He had provided.  I could blame Harold Camping for people not having a favorable view of Christianity, but I’m pretty sure I have done my fair share of making God’s pasture look less appealing.

Do I think that having a bad day in representing Christ is remotely comparable to false prophecy?  No.  But it never helps when we focus on our frustrations with the behavior of others.  God will take care of Mr. Camping, but my life in Christ is my responsibility.  Every day is an opportunity to live life in the pasture better than the day before.  Every day holds the promise of God’s mercy and grace for me to overcome the failures of yesterday.

Lord I pray that I would have eyes to watch my step, ears to hear you directing them and a will submitted to yours that I might walk them for your glory and honor.  Help me live a life in your pasture that draws others to your flock and doesn’t drive them away. Amen.

The Good Shepherd: Tending a Blemished Flock


I myself will tend my sheep and have them lie down, declares the Sovereign LORD. I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak, but the sleek and the strong I will destroy. I will shepherd the flock with justice. – Ezekiel 34:15-16 (NIV)

Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. – Isaiah 53:4-6 (NIV)

Not too long ago, I came home from work to an unhappy wife and a very quiet older daughter.  Missing was the younger daughter, who had locked herself in the bathroom.  I was asked to step in and see if I could extricate the youngling and began working on the lock, little whimpers punctuating my fiddling and tinkering.  The extrication became a little more involved once the door was open.

Big trouble for a little girl.

It was evident that my beautiful little girl had ventured into the world of cosmetology and home décor.  Unfortunately she had done both with the same medium – my wife’s lipstick.  While I could appreciate the artistic flair evident in the strokes of red on the wall, door and daughter, I was pretty sure my wife would not be a fan of the arts that day.  The room and child needed to come out of this experience unblemished.

My little girl didn’t need to be told that what she had done was wrong.  Her tearful demeanor and cowering in the corner were clear indicators that she was afraid of punishment.  We will never know if she was not able to unlock the door, or was too afraid to face mommy and daddy and so refused to unlock the door.  She needed to know that we still loved her, that we were okay.

It is very easy for us to lock ourselves away from God and fear what He will think of us if we open up the door.  Our sin or disobedience can seem so great that we would rather try to hide it away and hope that He will ignore us.  But God is a seeker…He is a good shepherd who finds His sheep wherever they may try to lose themselves.  He is the healer and redeemer, cleansing us of our blemishes so we can stand before Him unashamed.  All it took to clean up that lipstick was soap, time and effort.  For our sin it took the perfect Son of God, coming in the fullness of time and taking our place on the cross of shame and punishment.

I cannot think of anything my daughter could do that would cause me to stop loving her or trying to provide all she needs for this life and the life to come.  In a far better way, God loves us and will not relent in calling us to safe pastures.  He will call us out from behind our locked doors.  He binds up our injuries, self-inflicted or otherwise, and He watches over us with compassion and grace.

The evidence of the lipstick incident is gone.  There are no red stains left behind on door, wall or daughter.  They are unblemished in that regard, but sadly my daughter can still get herself into trouble.  She stops listening to those who would guide her in good directions, and finds herself in trouble again.  It is a beautiful thing to see a lost lamb returned to safe pastures; it is tragic to see that lamb lose her way again and head into harm’s way, but that is the life of parenthood.

Our heavenly Father is no less longsuffering than the best of us.  He watches us as we wander our own way, putting our souls in harm’s way.  Patiently He waits for us to unlock our doors that we try to hide behind.  Gently His voice keeps calling to me with the promise of forgiveness and restoration.  With strength beyond anything we can imagine or understand, He carries us from the “the valley of the shadow of death” to lush pastures and quiet waters.

Do you have any locked doors?  Are there any blemishes on your soul that no one else knows about?  Do you worry about the stains of your past being too deep for the Shepherd to cleanse?  I pray that the love of God, the Good Shepherd, would overcome our fears; that we would heed his voice and enter His rest. I pray that we would learn the beauty and power of being His sheep.