Monthly Archives: April 2008

29 NEED YOUR SOUL ‘RESTORED?’

 (WRITER’S NOTE:  We’re taking our time studying Psalm twenty three.  If not just for the beauty of such a “stroll,” the tranquility called to our consciousness by such a serene scene can provide much material for quiet contemplation.  Meaningful meditation.  You can almost hear the birds chirping in the background and the hear the almost silent, gentle flow of he stream.  Perhaps you can recall your own times out in Nature when you felt so close to God and had your spirit refreshed.  That, alone, would make this a worthwhile place to sit and study and think a while without hurry or interruptions.  Beyond the beauty of the scene, though, you can consider with David the “Shepherd of the Soul.”  You will probably also become more newly aware of the role He (the Shepherd) plays in your life.  And your role as one of “the sheep of His passture. -dk)

 

HE RESTORES MY SOUL. . . .

        I don’t know if he’s talking about a sheep at this point.  The analogy seems to change a bit, at least from my view point.  I can’t think about sheep “thinking” like that, having ability to reason, or even if they have a “soul” or if they’ve ever even thought about what one is.  I’ll “pass” on that point since I haven’t a clue,

        But we do.  We have souls, a part of us, which was created in the image of God Himself, and a part of us which will live on eternally.  And, to be candid again, there have been times I felt mine was pretty nearly “worn out” and in much need of repair.

        Some of the “restoring,” I would suppose, could come from refreshing time spent in “green pastures” or strolling “beside still waters” if we’re still using a “sheep” analogy.  I’d think that would have the effect of refreshing and renewing.  When the Bible says, “In quietness and confidence shall be your strength, in returning and rest” you will be saved, or renewed, it certainly recognizes and emphasizes the value and necessity of meditation, unhurried solitude and quiet rest.  It would certainly be worth our while to explore and understand our spiritual resources and discover how our diminishing reserves can be “restored.”  Simply by “resting” in the Lord.

        One of my favorite hobbies is oil painting.  I never carefully studied and applied myself diligently enough to become an “artist,” but it provided a lot of enjoyment through the years.  Unfortunately some of the best work I did was among the earliest paintings I completed.  Feeding my vanity more than anything, my children would “quarrel” over who got what paintings ‘when daddy dies.’  With my vanity camouflaged as “paternal concern” and wishing to avoid in-fighting over the “art treasures” when I’m gone, I went ahead and gave most of my work away early.

        One of the pieces is a picture of a little boy in overalls out in his dad’s garage with several open cans of paint and an old, worn-out, ragged brush painting on an old board.  As he holds the board admiringly out front, paint is dripping from his brush, onto his overalls, and the surrounding area. His eyes seem to gleam with pride and pleasure at his creation.

        Tim is my only son who ever “took up the brush” or displayed any real talent or interest in painting.  As a matter of fact, when he was maybe seven or eight years old I “financed” a limited edition of a drawing he did on paper for me.  We went together to the copy shop, and I had several printed at @ 20 cents apiece.  The entire first edition was an immediate sellout  (I purchased the all the prints, hoping someday he’d be famous and I could get rich.  It didn’t work out that way.).

        Since he’d exhibited interest, I gave him the painting of the little boy.  When first done, it was so colorful and the blues and yellows and reds were brilliant.  With the passing of years, though, dust and grime had accumulated and muted the color.  The painting seemed dull and darker and dominated by burnt umber.  I suggested to Tim that he might want to “restore” it.  You know.  Clean it up a bit.  Take a mild solvent and  “see if you can get the color to snap back to life.”  Sounded simple enough, like a “do it yourself project” for a rainy or wintry afternoon.

        Tim refused.  Again, petting my vanity I know, he said he wanted to have an “expert” restore it.  As I sat there and strutted, proud that my son would recognize and properly value such a work of art, I wondered if he’d call in someone from, say, the Metropolitan Museum of Art or the Louvre. 

        Here’s my point: If something you value needs to be “restored,” wouldn’t it make sense to have it done by someone who knows what they’re doing?  I also have owned and run an upholstery shop.  I’ve seen some guys who were absolute artists in upholstery.  They’ve taken what looked to be wrecked, irreparable, worthless auto or boat interiors and turned them into something which looked as if it just came off the showroom floor.  I’ve seen them take what looked like dilapidated, “bound for the junkyard” old furniture look like priceless antiques.  They know what they’re doing.  They’re experts.

        You can certainly make your own comparisons and draw your own conclusions.  But, if you needed someone to “restore your soul,” wouldn’t it make immense sense to go to the one who specializes in that   art?

        “Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: ‘Though your sins be like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow.  Though they be red like crimson, they shall be like wool (lamb’s wool, incidentally and coincidentally, which traditionally is ‘white as snow.’). “If we (keep on) confess our sins, He is (remains) faithful and just to (continue) forgiving us our sins, and to (keep on) cleansing us from all unrighteousness.”

        One of the writers of Scripture prayed: “Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation.”  Anyone who’s in the business of “restoring” anything or anyone knows you first have to get it cleaned up.  In “restoring” a house, the first thing you’re probably going to have to do is clean it up.  Take out the rotten, termite riddled joists.  Don’t even think about replacing them with rotten timber!   We’re not talking about a “patch” job or just rigging something.  We’re talking about getting it “restored” just like it was when it was new!

        You’ll find a lot of places in the Bible which speak of being “cleansed,” “forgiven,” renewed,” or being “born again” or becoming a “new creation” in Christ. One such place was burned deeply into my consciousness almost at the beginning of my walk with Christ.  I can quote it from memory now as I’m sure I’ve done hundreds of times when I’ve needed to remind myself:  “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to CLEANSE us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:9).

        If you need to get an old car restored, I know folks who can do that professionally.  Need antique furniture “restored?”  Need an old house redone.  It’ll cost you dearly, but I know some people who can do that.  Need a priceless work of art restored?  We’d have to work a while on that, and again it’s going to hit you hard in your bank account!  But there are such specialists available.

        But, is it your Soul, which needs restoring?  Has it gotten bruised and battered in life’s battles?  Disappointed?  Defeated?  Are you weary to the bone, almost too tired to continue?

        If that’s your dilemma, here’s some good news.  There IS someone who can fix that problem!  He’s referred to as the “Shepherd” in this song, but elsewhere His real human identity is revealed clearly: Jesus of Nazareth.

 

donkimrey, His servant, your fellow student

 

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28 Ever Hear of Sheep in “wolves’ clothing?

(REFERENCE:  WE’RE STILL STUDYING THE TWENTY THIRD PSALM.  PLEASE READ IT THOUGHTFULLY, CAREFULLY, AND PRAYERFULLY.  PERHAPS IN TRANSLATIONS BESIDE THE KJV.  THAT IS OUR “POINT OF DEPARTURE.”  WE’RE TRYING TO GO BENEATH THE SURFACE AND GAIN A GREATER UNDERSTANDING AND APPRECIATION FOR THE SCRIPTURE.  -dk)

        For some time, I’ve been considering the “shepherd song.”  You know  the psalmist uses an analogy and compares  our Lord to our “Shepherd.”  That means, of course, if He’s like our “shepherd,” then we must be like His  “sheep.”  David probably used that analogy because he, himself, was a shepherd.  He was very familiar with the work and dedication required.  And, no doubt, he was very familiar with how sheep behaved, what they needed and what they were worth.  And everyone who heard him speak understood precisely the point(s) he was trying to make and “got it.”

        Like you perhaps, I’d read and recited those words until I can say them from memory.  But until now, I’d never asked myself why he used the terms “shepherd” and “sheep.”  On closer examination, some of the reasons became crystal clear and worth contemplating.

        I have no plans to become a shepherd, but I do derive some satisfaction in trying to understand why writers of Scripture chose such an analogy.  That has certainly made me think.  Never owned a sheep, so my knowledge isn’t first hand.  Outside the twenty third psalm and some references in the New Testament, the extent of my acquaintance with sheep were in the profound poems:  “Mary had a little lamb,” or “Baaa! Baaaa! Black Sheep, have you any wool?”  Or once or twice being in a place I had no business being, arms on shoulders of a group of my buddies, “goodoleboys”  swaying and in gross dishamony singing the “Whiffenpoof song.”

        From what I’ve heard and the little I’ve seen, sheep are not by temperament the fiercest of animals.  They aren’t predators.  You don’t see them go out and sneak up on any other animal, stalk and attack it viciously with no provocation.   Then rip its heart out or drag it down and eat it while it’s still struggling frantically to escape and fighting for what will be its last breaths.  That isn’t the way sheep are built.  They pretty much keep to themselves and occupy their time by being sheep.  They seem to be quite content once they understand who they are.  They don’t have nervous breakdowns or heart attacks usually.  They don’t wind up on shrink’s couches or in psych wards or prisons.  They’re sheep.  And sheep are not killers.  They aren’t vicious, temperamental, easily angered or upset.  They don’t have nasty, ugly dispositions and aren’t sneaky or deceitful.   Have you ever even heard of a “sheep in wolf’s clothing?!”

        And they seem to get along pretty well among themselves.  You never see them growling over food and snatching another sheep’s lunch right from under its nose.  I think I like that about sheep, although I’m not ready just yet to adopt one as a pet.  They don’t mistreat other sheep.  They certainly don’t gossip about their peers or try to split up the flock or take over the shepherd’s job.

        I’ve heard the expression “gentle as a lamb.”  Have you ever heard such a comment about an alligator or a tiger?  Or a rattlesnake?  Of all the animals whom the Lord could have chosen and said: “My people are like that. . .” Does it cause you to pause and ponder  and wonder about His reason?  Is it possible that He may be trying to teach us that being kind, gentle, and patient with others is the way He’d like for us to be?  Or that we could learn lessons from them about the wisdom of trusting the Heart of the Shepherd.

        Or could it be, at sometimes, He’s trying to show us the value of “resting” spiritually while lying down “in green pastures” or strolling “beside still waters?”  After all, it does “take time to be holy.”  I believe it was an earlier Christian known to me only as “Brother Lawrence” who wrote a beautiful little devotional booklet entitled:  “The Practice of the Presence of the Lord.”  Practice may never make “perfect” as long as we wear a human body; but it will make it possible.  And we’re told to “draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” It will take time for you to really become acquainted with anyone, and you can’t do much more or better to accomplish that than listening and learning quietly in their presence.

A PARTING NOTE:  I may be unable to post anything for the next several days, so I’m going to go ahead an make some of my other notes available.  I’ve received some comments at my home email address and when I try them on the site, it appears as if they’re coming from me.  If you have comments or questions, I’d like for you to put them directly on the blog. . . particularly when they are discoveries you make or insights you’d like to share with others

A servant and fellow student, donkimrey

 

 

 

27 OH, AND ANOTHER THING. . .

(Please remember, the “study” is Psalm Twenty Three.  Please read it and think about it for yourself.  Please also feel free to share with others, and with me, the results of your efforts. –dk)

 

Oh, yes.  Another thought about sheep.  They can be led.

 

       I have a West highland Terrier who only has three good legs.  I love her a lot, and “Lucky” (that’s what we named her) will follow me everywhere I go.  But the “terrier” in her is SO feisty, and defiant.  She minds me. . . sometimes. . . well, perhaps occasionally. . . but mostly only when she’s in fear of her life!  And, if that weren’t enough, I also have a Brittany Spaniel.  “Copper” is a beautiful, intelligent, loving animal.  With a mind of her own.  And a strong will which resists even the “choker chains” which I feel forced sometimes to use when she takes me for a walk.

 

       Sheep aren’t like that.  For some reason, they will yield to the care of the Shepherd, or the guidance of a sheepdog.  Evidently, the shepherd used to sing to the sheep like the “singing cowboys” did for their cattle and their horses.  And the sheep recognized his voice and came when he called.  Or they’d respond to the gentle guidance of the shepherd’s staff.  It’s almost like, as “dense” as they may appear, they have sense to realize they NEED the shepherd.  They submit to his wisdom and authority and allow him to do what shepherds do best: lead, feed, defend and shelter his sheep.

 

       Sometimes, I act like a Billy goat.  Foolishly at times, and always to my detriment, I’ve defied the will of the “Good Shepherd” and doubted or denied His wisdom or his right to rule His sheep . . . which, after all, He has “Purchased at such great price.”  Perhaps as we study together, you’ll pray that I will know what and who and whose I am!

 

       One summer long ago as a boy in Vacation Bible School, I heard “Vonnie” Shepherd sing: “Saviour, like a shepherd lead us.  Much we need Thy tender care.  In Thy pleasant pastures lead us.  For our use thy folds prepare.  Blessed Jesus, Blessed Jesus: Thou has bought us, Thine we are. . .”

 

       The pleasant memory of that song on that sunny summer morning long ago has lingered. The truth it teaches is as much an expression of my desire today as it was for David the night he strummed his harp, tuned it up a little, hummed a few bars, and composed the lines that are engraved on our hearts and in our memories forever.

A servant and fellow student, donkimrey

 

 

26 HOW IS THE LORD LIKE A SHEPHERD?

 

CONTINUE STUDY OF PALM 23 (THE SHEPHERD SONG)

(I’m taking a bit of time to consider Psalm 23. I guess if I were a prospector and stumbled on what looked like a vein, I’d stay a while and “stake a claim.”  The entire BOOK is a gold mine.  I just found a rich vein.  Let’s don’t be in a hurry.  Stop and explore this simply profound passage carefully.  It will most certainly enrich your life and contribute to your spiritual growth. -dk)

 

         The parables, symbols, analogies and other figures of speech used in the Bible are given to illustrate important ideas.  As you know, eternity and deity are more than you can compress into mere words and ideas that the human mind can even begin to digest.  Fortunately, the writers of Scripture realized that.  So, In order to assist, they would take common, very ordinary things with which we were very familiar and use them to help us begin to understand uncommon, extraordinary things.  This is what is happening in this case.  We need to think.  Pause and ponder. An imagination and a sense of wonder will open up entirely new vistas to your understanding.

 

         Take the shepherd analogy, for example.  I’ve been asking myself: How is the Savior like a shepherd? Or vice versa.  In considering how each is like the other, naturally I think of descriptive adjectives which may describe the duty or personality of the person.

 

         A shepherd is a very “common” man.  Nothing pretentious or “high and mighty” about him or his bearing.  Personally, I believe Jesus made that choice to identify Himself with the low, unimpressive, unimportant, forgotten, poor, ignored, outcast. . . In order that NO ONE, any where in space or time could ever think He viewed Himself to be ‘too important or too busy to bother’ with “sinners like you and like I.”  When you consider the time and place and manner in which Jesus was born and how He lived and died, you have to realize He has deliberately and forever identified Himself with all humanity.  He made a conscious choice to place Himself beneath even the dregs of society so NO ONE could ever think He looks down on you.  Or that He hasn’t any idea what abject poverty, seemingly endless and sometimes futile struggling is about. 

         It makes speeches of any superficial, enormously wealthy, hugely ambitious politician almost laughable by comparison when they say:  “I feel your pain.”  They don’t.  They cannot!  They’ve never felt it, so they cannot know what it is really like.  But He does!  On account of His great love for us, He has identified with us at the deepest most personal levels of pain and want.  He does know His “sheep,” and will care for them!  For us.  For me (Please remember the selfish side of me saw and claimed this before I shared it with you!)!

         What else occurs to you when you think about shepherds?  I don’t really know a single person whose sole occupation is herding sheep.  But I do know a lot of farmers.  I’ve known them to be honest and industrious.  They certainly aren’t vain or seeking the “limelight.”  They work long and hard in fair weather or foul, unnoticed, often unappreciated, and almost always underpaid. Our country grew great while riding on the backs of these and other “workhorses of society.”  I consider them to be anonymous heroes in disguise!

         With so much mechanization and so many mega farms in the nation today, you almost lose sight of the simple farmer who invests his life and savings in his farm.  For generations it has been his history, and even now some brave remnants of that noble occupation view it with hope as their future.  A valiant, if vanishing breed. However, they still stand as a picture of what it means to give dedicated, totally committed, and unselfish service.  Their efforts are admirable remarkable examples of giving so much and expecting so little in return.  It would be safe to make the same statement about shepherds.

         As I’ve thought of it, the idea which emerges most powerfully in my consciousness is the tender closeness which exists between Shepherd and sheep.  The unbreakable bond. Above all things, the Shepherd is completely committed to his work and the welfare of his sheep.  In my opinion, if it’s understood properly, being a “good shepherd” isn’t something someone does.  It is who he is.  He doesn’t just lead and feed, protect and defend the sheep.  He doesn’t just ‘do shepherd things’ from 9:00 till 5:00 five days a week with a couple weeks off for vacation.  He owns them, has His own life and reputation invested in them.  In the case in the New Testament where Jesus becomes the “Good Shepherd,” He actually gives up His life for His sheep. In all He does, we see humility, nobility, dignity, simplicity and sacrifice.

         This comparison (The Shepherd=the Lord) is used so many times in many places throughout Scripture.  Poets have written beautifully about the appropriateness and profound meaning of that analogy.  Artists have sought to show the tender beauty of the Shepherd rescuing the “lost sheep” and returning it to the “safety of the fold.”  While all their efforts are admirable, nothing will ever take the place of your grasping and understanding truth and clutching it close to your heart. 

 

         My Mother spent the last days of her life in our home.  As we kept close vigil, we could see a rapid descent, especially the last day, in the last hours.  Around ten o’clock that evening, there was a noticeable plunge and as I sensed that she was leaving, I instinctively began to recite the “Shepherd Psalm.”  With no planning at all those of us who were with her at her bedside began praying “The Lord’s Prayer.”  And just as quickly and quietly as that, she breathed her last as we were praying.

                 It would be impossible for me to relate what profound peace and hope those simple, magnificent words brought in one of the most defining moments of my life.  Even as I write years after her entrance into Heaven, there is joy and peace in remembering.  And joy in anticipating reunion someday.

          I can almost imagine and envision now the “Shepherd” taking her gently by the hand leading her beside the still waters and then “through (not down to it; but THROUGH) the valley of the shadow of death.” 

          Of all the great books I’ve read by great authors and the ideas and thoughts I’ve pondered in all my life, I cannot begin to imagine any words which would have brought the comfort, peace, hope, and joy that Psalm brought to me there, then.  And now. Nothing even comes close.

          When I tried to share the experience later with my wife, I said: “Honey, I can’t explain how it took place and I can’t express adequately what it was like.  If I’d been a great movie producer, it would have been the way I’d have directed a film about the departure of such a truly godly lady.  Honestly I felt as if the only thing missing was a chorus of angels singing in the background.”

          “They were there,” she said, “You just didn’t hear them.”

 

         Please make your own comparison and draw your own conclusion.  Take it and store it in the place where you keep your most treasured possessions.  Marvel at its beauty as often as  you wish, and use it as your own when you need it and nothing else will meet that need.  Believe me, when you come to the place where you have to say “goodbye” to someone who is dearer to you than your own life. . . Knowing the “Good Shepherd” is with them, and with you, will have value you may treasure, but never be able to measure.  It is “true riches” which you can keep and give away and never exhaust!

 

         And, if you haven’t thought about it lately, the Good Shepherd is still “seeking those who are lost and finding those who sought to hide from Him.”  Still bringing them back “into the fold.”

 

A servant,

Donkimrey

 

(AN AFTERTHOUGHT:  My wife reminded me it might be a good idea to let you know during each post that we’re in a “continuing study.”  I try to keep each post complete in itself, but if you want to start at the beginning you need to go to “About.”  Then you can proceed from that point and follow what should resemble a logical progression.

            We’re still studying the “Shepherd Song” (Psalm 23.).   A list of questions for a study guide is included in the previous post.  I hope you’ll take time to consider those questions and add a few of your own, as you seek your own better understanding of the Scripture.  And you’re invited to share your insights.  Perhaps you should know, though, others, who’ve dug deeply and discovered reality, have been unable to “keep their secrets.”).                        

25 PSALM 23, SUGGESTED STUDY QUESTIONS

PSALM 23.   IT’S PROBABLY VERY FAMILIAR TO YOU.  PLEASE READ IT THoUGHTFULLY AGAIN, though.  TRY TO READ IT AS IF YOU’RE HEARING IT FOR THE FIRST TIME.  RAISE THE WINDOWS IN YOUR MIND AND LET FRESH BREEZES BLOW THROUGH.                                                                                                                                                                                          At first, I was going to call this a Q & A (Question and Answer) session, but I’m only asking questions now. . . of myself, and those who choose to join me in a journey. I encourage you to take your time.  No one is pushing you, and just as food takes a while to digest. . . your thoughts may require time to be absorbed.  I know you can get indigestion if you try to eat in a hurry or just eat “junk” food.  I’m not sure what happens if you don’t take time to “digest” your thoughts, but it probably isn’t a good thing.  No hurry.  No pressure. No one’s looking over your shoulder or pressing to cram for a ‘final exam.’  Just THINK and enjoy what you discover. (But you might also warn yourself you may find yourself feeling you can’t keep it to yourself.  Joy has to be expressed!)

         Lately it’s been a little busier around here than usual.  Hectic, actually.  So I haven’t had a lot of time to write and I don’t want to get “sloppy.”  At the moment, this a long way from being the busiest corner on the internet; but you never know what might catch someone’s attention.  Little sparks have been known to start big fires!  You’ve come here for some reason, and I should not waste your time or mislead you in any way.  If anyone spends time here, it should be worthwhile.   If I waste your time, I’m disappointed in me and have not kept the commitment made to the Lord once this effort was actually launched.

 

         So, not “stalling,” I have been studying, and praying; specifically, about the “SHEPHERD PSALM;”  But have simply lacked the time to compose my thoughts carefully.  I CAN tell you how I’ve been thinking, but will need a bit more time before actually saying what I’m thinking.  Listed here are some of the questions I’m asking myself.  Perhaps you’ll find them helpful in your own study and you’ll add a few of your own.

 

1.    Who do you think composed the “song” (A psalm is a poem or song, you know.)?  If David did it, perhaps while he was a teen-age shepherd, can you imagine how long it took to write it or what inspired him to do it?  It’s considered great literature, even by some who make no claim to faith.  Can you imagine a very young, very uneducated shepherd writing anything so beautiful?  He was on the backside of nowhere.  No Bible to consult, no wise instructors and no access to computers, or networks, or libraries or Discovery Channels. How could he possibly compose someting so simple, and yet so profound?  Especially something that has brought so much comfort for so long to so many people?  Could YOU write something like that?

2.    Why do you suppose he used an analogy which was so familiar, so  common and simple?  Perhaps that’s just the reason.  He certainly seemed to understand the relationship which is so vital between shepherds and sheep.  And it’s hard for me to think of another analogy that would have gotten his points made nearly as clearly.

3.    Shepherds and sheep were so much a part of life back there and then.  It’s even the case today in some cultures.  In what ways can you think the Lord is like a Shepherd?  Now, put the shoe on the other foot and ask in what ways we, His people, are like sheep.  Think about it.  Make some notes.  Weigh the words and ideas.  Make a list of the similarities and comparisons, just for your own study.

4.    When the psalmist says “I shall not want. . .” he’s seeing himself in the role of a sheep, totally dependent on his “shepherd” for every thing needed for existence and sustenance.  Everything. Have you ever felt that dependent? What does the word “want” mean in this context?

5.    Next, the psalmist says, “He makes me lie down in green pastures.”   Now, obviously, I can’t think like a sheep . . . but I can imagine their getting “excited” about getting green grass to eat!  And then with their tummies full, romp and cavort a bit and then lie down for a nice afternoon nap on the lush green grass.  Especially if they’d been rambling out at the edge of the dessert and had nothing but dry grass, briers and bramble, and sandy grit to chew on.  He (the shepherd) MAKES the sheep lie down.  That sounds to me like the Shepherd knows more about what the sheep needs than the sheep does.

 

               When I was a little boy, I cannot tell you how many hours I spent following a stream across the rail road tracks below my home.  My dog, “Spooky” and I followed the creek as it flowed, rambling through meadows, with the railroad tracks tagging along beside playfully crossing it now and then in a toward the river not far away.  The idea of “green pastures or meadows” still calls beautiful memories back to my mind.  I never ate the grass like the sheep would, but I guarantee you no sheep ever enjoyed a green pasture more than I did as a boy.  In memory’s eye, I can see me now lying on my back in the grass in some meadow, legs crossed, hands behind my head as beautiful clouds above chased others, changing by the minute as they sailed across a sky that has never been bluer.          

    

6.    Next, he says his “shepherd” leads the sheep beside still waters.  I’m not certain what he actually meant in terms I can understand or explain.  But they say “still waters” run deep.  And I don’t even know if sheep can swim.  That sort of makes me feel this scene sounds sort of dangerous as well as tranquil.  The threat of danger hangs ominously low and close.  My instincts would warn me to walk carefully and hope a shepherd or a lifeguard is somewhere close by.  Let’s think about it a bit. Beside still waters. . . What does that suggest to you, when you take time to think about it?

7.    Next, “He leads me in the paths of righteousness.”  Do you think that kind of thought would ever occur to a sheep?  Do they even know what “righteousness” is?  Do we?  If we walk in the “paths of righteousness,” wouldn’t it be safe to assume the “Good Shepherd” is leading us?  And if righteousness is that big a concern to Him, wouldn’t we be smart to spend some time figuring out what it is?  What is your definition of “righteousness.”

8.    And He does that “for His Name’s sake.”  If you’re like me, you’ve probably said or read those words many times through the years.  Have you ever THOUGHT about what that means?  Doesn’t it suggest that the Shepherd Himself, has an interest and a stake in the way we conduct our lives?  Doesn’t it mean His investment in us means He has a taken a personal interest in our success or failure as His sheep?  His reputation is affected by the way His followers behave.  The “word picture” (analogy) isn’t using hard headed, strongly self-willed billy goats here.  Have you ever thought the Lord has an investment in you and the way you live affects His reputation?

 

        Please don’t get impatient now.  We’re studying.  That requires thinking, and thinking takes time and requires effort.  But, what if we look at Bible study this way:  If God has invested the effort to reveal His thoughts and wishes to us, is it asking too much that we take it seriously and take the time and invest the effort to understand?

Some thoughts before leaving:

         Calling this blog “scriptureSTUDENT” does seem like a fairly good idea.  The more I think of it, the more that decision seems to be the right one.  My son Tim, who helped get it up and running had originally called it “scriptureSCHOLAR.”  I vetoed that for reasons:  First, I don’t consider myself a “scholar.”  That implies a degree of intellectual skill, which I don’t claim to possess.  Second, my efforts are not designed to discuss “scholarly” matters.  While there are legitimate concerns over apologetics, doctrinal or denominational matters, etc., that is not what I’ll be addressing on the site.  It is meant to be, purely and simply: devotional study of the Bible.   Hopefully, it will provide some encouragement and hope for those who appreciate or need such a “ministry.”  If the studies seem plain and simple, that is deliberate.  I want to consider and understand Scripture and then to be understood, not to impress anyone otherwise. 

        One other confirmation that it should never be called “scholar” is the difficulty I had in getting to and from the site.  It has ben hilarious.  In fact, I’ve had more trouble getting there, posting and editing things, and getting “safely back home” than I had in developing the studies.  Can you imagine a “scholar” telling you he has something important to say. . . but can’t tell you where to find it!!

 

         That made me think of the story I heard of the brilliant but famously absent-minded Albert Einstein.  On a train trip once (He never learned to drive), when the conductor came around to collect tickets, he couldn’t find his.  Frustrated, he searched every pocket, his brief case, etc. a couple of times.  The sympathetic conductor said:  “It’s all right Dr. Einstein.  There’s no problem.  I know who you are.”  And Dr. Einstein replied: “I do, too.  But I don’t know where I’m going!”

 

         Incidentally, absent-mindedness is the only thing I have in common with Dr. Einstein!

A servant, donkimrey

24 EBBY’S LETTER

 

  1. We’re still considering the Twenty Third Psalm.  In the next day or two I’ll post the questions I’m using in my own study.  Just wanted to share with you briefly a note which meant a lot to me. 

    I had about decided to keep personal references in my own private “ego-booster” file.  I keep telling me “this isn’t about you, don.  It is the Message that matters.”   Kind comments mean much, especially when they sound thoughtfully intelligent and sincere and not superficial or gushy.  What I’m really “fishing” for is participation from you.  If you prayerfully study Scripture and meditate, you’re as likely to discover something valuable as anyone is.  In fact, it may mean even more to you because YOU discovered it!  It’s YOURS!! So, from your studies, feel free to share what YOU find.  If you catch me straying off track, here’s your invitation to help me stay realistic and helpful.  If you sense that I’m about to “fall on my sword,” by all means let me know you think I’m worth saving. 

 

    In the exception I’m making to the position stated above, I’ve asked permission to reprint something from a lady whom I’ve never met.  She just “stumbled” on the blog accidentally this past Sunday while “surfing the net” searching for some Bible study sites.  Her name is “Ebby.”  Edited only slightly, here are her comments:

 

“… thought I’d let you know I’ve been pouring my heart and soul into studying and learning God’s Word.  It has taken me some years to get here but, hey, it’s never too late!  Yesterday, after some extensive discipleship study, I came online for further research. I found some good “stuff” …but just not what I was looking for- so I had a brainstorm (a divine one?). I googled the words “bible study blog” and selected yours and WOW.  I am So Glad I did.  I read for hours yesterday and have done the same this morning.  You speak and write in terms I can understand- that make sense to my spirit.  Thank you.  I will certainly pass your site on.”

 

I dropped her a note to say “Thank you,” and this was her reply:

 

“Hi Don,

  

Thank you for your heart-felt email. There is nothing wrong with appreciating thoughtful, sincere compliments. The good others see in you and compliment you on are really recognitions of Christ’s love they see shining through you, and those compliments are actually a praise to God.  Whew!  That was a mouthful!  I hope it made sense to you. (Don here:  It did, and it seemed worth passing along so you’d think the same way when someone says something nice to you, or about you.)

 

I can see God’s hand all over your writing/study.  And must say, I’m glad you chose to use the word ‘student’ instead of ‘scholar’.  Few can relate to a scholar; however, many, and those who need it most, can relate to a student. (And personally, I’m drawn to carpenters, shepherds and fishermen over high priests every time!) In fact, I’ll bet your own native, Billy Graham, thinks himself still a student. We can never learn all there is to know about scripture, can we?  We are all life-long students. New spiritual clay.  I’m a Martha who desires to become a Mary. 

 

You are correct, I am indeed very serious about my spiritual journey.  After reading your email, I went to ‘About’ on your site, and must say I wasn’t at all surprised to read that your background and training are in ministry. Your grasp-of-scripture gave you away.

 

I know all about personal and painful circumstances/experiences and the need to bail. I used to keep the old running-shoes-of-my-heart handy by the front door… smile/sigh.  But I soon learned wherever I went, there I still was, baggage and all.  Having said all that though, I also need to commend you for knowing when and having the courage to “take a “sabbatical” during your eclipse-of-faith.  

 

    I also commend you for Returning. 

 

   

Don here, again, just before saying: “Over and Out.”   I think Ebby “gets it!”   I’m still working on “The Shepherd’s Song” and will soon post some questions for you to consider while studying

                                                                         A servant, donkimrey

 

 

23 ANOTHER ‘SHEPHERD’ THOUGHT

STILL STUDYING PSALM 23

 

Did you ever hear the story of  Archimedes?*  I don’t recall the details, but I believe he was the Greek guy who discovered the principle of displacement (whatever that means.).  It has something to do with buoyancy (whatever that means!).  When he visited the public baths and got into the tub, the density of his body displaced an equal amount of water and the tub must have overflowed.  Legend has it that he got so excited, he jumped out of the bath and ran outside (Before even getting dressed!  (We crazy Americans are not the ones who invented the “streaking” fad.).  And ran through the streets of the ancient city shouting “Eureka!”   “I’ve found it.” Admittedly, he’d stumbled on a great, useful scientific principle.  But can you imagine anyone getting that carried away with something few people even understand. 

Here on the site we’ve just been talking and thinking about words.  Mere words.  And ideas. But words have meaning.  Ideas have consequences.  We’ve discovered a couple of “nuggets” so far.  You own them now.  They’re yours.  Cherish them.  They will increase in value.  Keep them in your heart and use them as often as necessary.  It’s o.k., too, to get excited when you discover something important and beautiful.  Just don’t “lose your cool!”

One of those “words” is Shepherd.  We aren’t going to hurry past this idea, because it is so meaningful.  We’ll definitely be richer if we consider this concept and incorporate it in our lives.

Have you noticed how Jesus often made comparisons?  He often used simple words and ideas to convey profound meaning.  He’d take things with which we were very familiar and then use them to open our minds to beautiful, profound ideas we may never have been able to see so clearly.  He referred to Himself as ‘Bread,” “Water,’ ‘Light,” and  “Shepherd” and called His followers His “friends,” His “sheep.”

He was so familiar with the land in which He lived.  He knew and understood the people, how they lived, and how important some things were to them.  He also KNEW they’d understand what He meant.

In order to really appreciate something, I need to think about it and understand its meaning and importance.  I’ve never raised sheep, so I have to switch gears in my mind completely to see the point(s) David and, later, Jesus, were trying to illustrate.  To be perfectly honest, I don’t even begin to know how to care for them.

I don’t know much about sheep.  That is a classic understarment!  But, if Jesus and David thought the concept was important and appropriate, it seems worth my time to think carefully about why they felt that way.  The Shepherd-sheep idea seems to address both the relationship that exists between them and the role I play in this simple scenario.

It seems to me that one of the immediate observations you could make is the closeness that exists between the Shepherd and the sheep and the tenderness with which the sheep is treated.  A good Shepherd knows His sheep.  They are his main assignment.  He’s willing to risk his life for them. They know Him and come when they hear Him.  They were important to him.  If one got lost (as they often did), the Shepherd would go looking for it.  No matter what the danger, the Shepherd would search for his lost sheep, until He found it.

While considering this analogy I couldn’t help considering my own affection for my pets and for little new-born babies, ducks, or “chickies,” etc.   While I know the affection I have for my litltle handicapped Westy is nowhere close to the love the Shepherd has for His sheep, I can begin to get the point.  He loves me.  Do you see what great lessons He taught us, using such a simple analogy?  He used something even my simple mind can grasp to make me start contemplating a love that is greater than anything I can begin to imagine.

When I “strayed away from the fold,” He was looking for me.  And never gave up His search.

We can talk all we wish about our “searching for God.”  But in truth, my experience was that I was running from him.  Avoiding Him.  It was He who did the searching.  It was He who waited patiently for my rebellion to run its course and welcomed me when I finally came to my senses and “came home.”

Even though sometimes I’ve acted like a billy goat in sheep’s clothing, The Good Shepherd knows who I am and how badly I need Him.

                                       Sincerely, a servant, donkimrey                                                                                                        

(*I’m not sure whether it was Archimedes or Euclid.  Or some other ancient wise one.  And I certainly don’t understand the importance and applications of the principles having to do with buoyancy.  Fortunately, shipbuilders do and others who need to know!!  And you should know it before you put too much water in the bathtub!!).