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Entries in God's Provision (2)

Wednesday
Nov222017

Be Thankful—God Loves Ewe!

In this Spiritual Growth UPGRADE, Pam Farrel encourages us to upgrade our lives with a little help from the Good Shepherd.

Our Good Shepherd pursues us to give his faithful love and all things beautiful and beneficial,” Pam says.

I (Dawn) have watched Pam in ministry. She knows a little about shepherds and sheep—the kind that go "baaa," and the human "sheep" who struggle and cry out to their Shepherd.

Pam continues . . .

I am a true Bo Peep. I grew up on a Suffolk sheep farm in Idaho.

I was a fourth generation shepherd. If there is something I am familiar with, it is sheep!

So when I read Psalms 23, one of the most familiar of all Psalms, it is very personal, encouraging and comforting.

You may also need comfort or encouragement in your own life right now. There are a few qualities of your Good Shepherd that might encourage you, especially if you are feeling like you are traveling through the “valley of the shadow of death”.

1. The Shepherd is Personal

For example, the Psalmist’s opening line, “The Lord is my shepherd,” became more precious when I became a shepherdess. The relationship between a lamb and a shepherd can be a very close, caring and even sometimes, affectionate relationship.

For example, my first 4-H lamb was a “bummer,” meaning the mother had rejected or abandoned her own offspring.

These kinds of lambs need extra attention, so I fed my little lambie with a bottle twice a day, holding her in my arms like a baby.

I carded her wool, I hand fed her grain, I walked her, and yes, I talked to her.

On cold nights, I tucked her into a warm pen, and if I heard howling wild dogs or coyotes, I got up to go out to check on her.

I also named her, “Bunny” because when she wasn’t in my arms, she would delight herself jumping from rock to rock in our pasture. Ours was an “everywhere that Pammy went her lamb was sure to go” kind of relationship.

2. The Shepherd is a Protector

It is really a picture of my grandfather, father and brother, and their vigilance that I carry in my mind as to what a truly protective good shepherd is like.

Ravenous coyotes, wolves and wild dogs roamed the vast expanse of high desert in the area our family farm was located. These savage dogs would attack and kills whole flocks of sheep in a single night.

To help us keep our sheep safe, we place collars with bells on them. If they we heard an occasional gentle chime we knew our sheep were simply grazing calmly, but if we heard a cacophony of loud jingling, we knew the wild dogs were near by threatening an attack

To protect the sheep, the men in my family would post themselves in the pasture with the sheep. They would wrap themselves in a down sleeping bag with their “rod and staff” within arm’s reach. It was a cold, uncomfortable, thankless job, but it saved the lives of all our entire flock of sheep and their lambs.

To this day, when I picture my God as my Good Shepherd, I see Him as my strong, powerful and attentive protector.

3. The Shepherd is a Provider

When I read, “He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul" (vv. 2-3), that is exactly the experience of my upbringing.

  • I would often walk barefoot through the deep, lush, green grass of the pasture, as the sheep serenely grazed.
  • I would take a blanket and a Bible, and lie down and spend quiet hours communing with God.
  • I might walk over to the creek, and sit on the simple wooden plank that created a bridge, and sit and rest quietly dipping my toes into the cool stream.

This was my place of solace and restoration, far away from the chaos my alcoholic, raging, earthly father might be creating in our small farm house. 

To this day, resting in an open meadow, or the sound of gently tinkling chimes, remind me of the restorative rest the Good Shepherd can create even in the midst of chaos.  

4. The Shepherd Is a Pursuer

As I have followed my Good Shepherd, I have seen how “goodness and mercy“ has surely followed me the days of my life. 

One could phrase the meaning of “goodness and mercy” as “certainly what is good, pleasant, agreeable, beneficial, desirable, beautiful and best, as well as God’s faithful, loyal, lovingkindness will pursue you.

Wow!

Our Good Shepherd pursues us to give His faithful love and all things beautiful and beneficial.

A recent example in my own life is the writing of this blog. It is an adaptation out of my newest book, Discovering Hope in the Psalms. I was going through one of my most challenging years of my entire life when my friend Jean asked me to edit, then co-author, this study with her.

See... my Shepherd sent goodness and mercy to pursue me, because He knew I was going to need to dwell in the green pastures of His Hope-filled Word to survive my own valley.

With the Shepherd, we can walk THROUGH the darkest valley and not tremble, because the Good Shepherd sees His sheep, knows His sheep and cares for each and every one of His sheep—including you!

What attribute of the Shepherd do you need, to hold on to hope?

Find a wool blanket, spread it in a green pasture near some still water, open your Bible and let the Shepherd send some goodness and mercy your way.

 Pam Farrel is still a shepherdess at heart. However, instead of living on her family farm, she now travels the world shepherding people’s hearts and relationships by speaking and teaching God’s goodness and mercy through the ministry she and her husband run: Love-Wise. She is the author of 45 books. Her newest is Discovering Hope in the Psalms: A Creative Bible Study Experience.

Wednesday
Mar252015

The Day the Dryer Died

Deedra Scherm is a wife and parent with tremendous creativity and a sense of adventure. As she explains in this Spiritual Growth UPGRADE, sometimes the challenges in our lives need some help from outside.

“A biblical man helped me with my laundry,” Deedra said, “and some other life challenges too!”

When I (Dawn) read that statement, I wondered who that "biblical man" might be! But knowing Deedra, I knew I was about to get a valuable lesson.

Deedra continues . . .

So the other day the dryer broke.  And perhaps it wouldn't have been so bad if I was already caught up with the laundry loads, but I'd let a few days slip by.  

The repair part was quickly put on order. It would be almost a week before it arrived and my husband and youngest son watched the youtube video that helped them take it apart and put that glorious contraption back together.  

And then washing began.  There were clothes everywhere . . . lined up in the hall next to the laundry room, folded over the backs of every chair and spread over every couch, sitting outside the doors of the boys' room, and across every bed.

Of course, while focusing on the piles of laundry, I sort of neglected other housekeeping items like vacuuming, dusting and dishes. My house was a mess. Y'all, it was a "if-child-protectective-services-came-for-a-visit-they-might-take-your-kids-away" mess.  

I know it's just supposed to be laundry but I just WANTED. TO. STOP.

I was tired and feeling like a mom who didn't even know how to keep her house clean for her kids and family! Other people don't live like this, right? It's just laundry!

Do you ever feel like that in other areas of your life? I do. I often battle with knowing what things I think I should do and then actually being able to do them. Whether it's cleaning the house, eating better, exercising more, preparing my kids, or excelling creatively in my work. Maybe I'm just too old, or too tired, or just inadequate to tackle the job in front of me.  

I asked God to show me what I needed to learn in this area. And then I started to read and learn more about a man in the Bible who seemed to know how to "clean house."

Caleb was this guy who, when everyone else around him seemed to have trouble moving forward, he didn't. When there was something to be done, he could.

The problems of fear and fatigue and inadequacy didn't seem to slow him—even when he might have had reasons to fall back on those things.  Yep. That's what I want.

So this is what I found:

Caleb believed that when God calls, He provides.

That's it. Just fully believing that when God calls, He provides.

The story of Caleb inspires me. I saw this theme through the story of Caleb's life. I saw him facing and overcoming some of the feelings I face.

I've been applying Caleb's example to my life, and have discovered when God calls me to do something and I fully trust Him to provide, three things are true:

1) Trust Dulls the Fear of Failure.  

In Exodus, when the Israelites were freed from slavery and headed to the land they had been promised, a group went in and reported back about the land. Most all of the men felt they couldn't go in because of the "giants" there. They were afraid. But Caleb knew God was with them. He told the people, "do not be afraid" (Numbers 14:9). 

Caleb fully trusted God and that gave him the ability to move forward . . . without anxiety.    

2) Trust Lessens the Fight of Fatigue.

After the people entered the Promised Land, the land was divided up among the twelve tribes. Caleb— who was over 80 years old!—was given land that still had enemies Israel needed to drive out. Knowing this was God's calling, Caleb said, "I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I’m just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then" (Joshua 14:11).

Caleb fully trusted God and that gave him the strength to move forward . . . without being weary.

3) Trust Dissolves the Frenzy of Feeling Inadequate.  

Caleb could have looked around and compared himself to others, but he didn't need to. He already knew he was "different" and there was no need to compare.

God said, "Caleb has a different spirit and follows Me wholeheartedly" (Numbers 14:24).

It's because of that difference Caleb inherited the land and was able to drive out the enemies—which, by the way, none of the others were able to do.  

Caleb fully trusted God and that gave him the ability to move forward . . . without feeling less-than.

Caleb went wholeheartedly into the land and drove out the enemy. If the others had cleaned out their land as God asked, they would have had security and peace.

Is there a place in your life that needs some attention or cleaning up? A place you have neglected? Maybe God has put on your heart a relationship that needs to be addressed. Perhaps it's a change in your work or a book that needs writing. Maybe it's a habit that needs breaking, or forgiveness that needs giving.  

What has God called you to do but fear, fatigue or comparison has kept you from moving forward?

Don't look around at others, look up to God.

Make a decision today to wholeheartedly trust God, believing, "If He calls, He will provide." Just like He did for Caleb. Set your eyes on God, and trust that He will give you strength.

Even if you are floating on a sea of dirty laundry.  

Did you identify an area of your life that needs some attention?

Deedra Scherm lives in Dallas with her husband and three boys. Between homeschooling and writing, she’s on constant watch for “parents night out” so she and her hubby can get one of those things called a date night. You can find Deedra’s  bestselling book, The ABC Bible Verse Book, and other books and DVDs at lemonvision.com or amazon.com.