Wednesday, December 31, 2014


Luke 2:20   The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

            The expectation of the New Year is that somehow circumstances will be adapted in a new and happier way, and that with them we too shall be brought along. In the bleak mid winter, though, how can this be? The circumstances are all against us. It is harder in January than it is in April to go back from the altar to our work feeling that something has happened to us and that we, not circumstances, are redeemed and born anew, yet that is precisely what we are called upon to do.

            So here we are, called to begin where we left off and yet to make a new beginning. It is an old choice and a new chance for us and for the world. Christmas and creation are part of the same process of God; they have everything to do with one another, they each speak of loving purpose and renewed hopes… The routine beckons, the familiar haunts require our attention and our presence, and before too long the memory of this holy time will disappear and be packed away with the paraphernalia of the season; and yet by God’s grace we will be open to his most remarkable grace and surprise in the world.

            The world will not change until and unless we change; the spirit of Christmas cannot be borne out into the cold January air unless we are borne out by it and indeed born again by it. We may, we must, return from whence we came, but we need not return as the same tired creatures, care-worn and spirit-lost, for we have seen wonderful things that have come to pass, strange and might sights that will never let us look at the skies in quite the same manner as before.

            Christ’s presence has hallowed all that we are and every place that we are, and by his grace the world and we can never be quite the same again. Therefore, we begin again, that in leaving the manger we may embrace the world for his sake and for ours.

Sermons: Biblical Wisdom For Daily Living by Rev. Peter J. Gomes, pgs.26-29.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014


2 Corinthians 5:9-10       So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ.

It is arduous work to keep the master ambition in front. It means holding one’s self to the high ideal year in and year out, not being ambitious to win souls or to establish churches or to have revivals, but being ambitious only to be “accepted by Him”. It is not lack of spiritual experience that leads to failure, but lack of laboring to keep the ideal right. Once a week at least take stock before God and see whether you are keeping your life up to the standard He wishes. Paul is like a musician who does not need the approval of the audience if he can catch the look of approval from his Master.

Any ambition which is in the tiniest degree away from this central one of being “approved by God” may end in our being castaways. Learn to discern where the ambition leads, and you will see why it is so necessary to live facing the Lord Jesus Christ.

I have to learn to relate everything to the master ambition, and to maintain it without any cessation. My worth to God in public is what I am in private. Is my master ambition to please Him and be acceptable to Him, or is it something less, no matter how noble?

Monday, December 29, 2014


Psalm 23:1-3  The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul.

            Leaders become shepherds when they awaken to the reality that their actions and decisions are able to improve the quality of the lives for those who follow them. This entails a fully integrated life involving the head and hand and heart. Our thinking and doing and being all lend to the development of people. When leaders provide an environment of contentment and abundance, they will find more growth and progress in the lives and actions of others.

            Psychologists believe that in order for people to achieve their full potential, certain things must be in place in their lives. First, their basic survival needs of food, clothing, shelter and water must be met. Next they require a sense of protection or security from danger, illness or bodily harm. Then they must have a sense of being a part of some group with acceptance, affection and understanding from others. This is followed by a need for self pride, self respect and status. Once all these needs are met a person can reach full potential. This truth is found throughout Scripture. Scripture teaches us to understand God’s complete love for us and our need to love Him and others with all our heart, soul, mind and strength (actions). It requires strong and tough leaders to display personal qualities of patience, persistence and diligence while working with their flock.

            People are not perfect. Yet shepherds are called to lead a group of imperfect souls. Looking at others we first see their physical characteristics. As a relationship develops we then learn about their character, skills, flaws and foibles. We get stuck at this point, failing to see their immortality. We forget that Christ died for them, too. “To be a shepherd requires a bold living out of both mercy and compassion. Choosing mercy means choosing not to punish an individual when justice demands punishment. Choosing compassion means providing for someone when justice demands that they not receive anything. Shepherd leaders can do this because they’ve been awakened to the mercy and compassion they have been shown.”

Shepherd Leadership: Wisdom For Leaders From Psalm 23, by Blaine McCormick & David Davenport, pgs. 20-29.

Sunday, December 28, 2014


Numbers 6:22-26    The Lord said to Moses, Tell Aaron and his sons, ‘This is how you are to bless the Israelites. Say to them: “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.”’

The Bell
I know who I Am
I am God’s Child ( John 1:12)
I am Christ’s Friend ( John 15:15)
I am united with the Lord (1Cor. 6:17)
I am bought with a price. (1 Cor. 6:19-20)
I am a saint set apart for God.(Ephesians 1:1)
I am a personal witness for Christ. (  Acts 1:8 )
I am the salt & light of the earth (Matthew 5:13-14)
I am a member of the body of Christ. ( 1 Cor. 12:27)
I am free forever from condemnation. ( Romans 8:1-2)
I am a citizen of Heaven, I am significant.(Philippians3:20)
I am free from any accusation against me. ( Romans 8:3-34 )
I am a minister of reconciliation for God. (2 Corin. 5:17-21 )
I have access to God through the Holy Spirit. ( Ephesians 2:18 )
I am seated with Christ in the heavenly realms. ( Ephesians 2:6 )
I cannot  be separated  from the love of God. ( Romans 8:35-39 )
I am established, anointed, sealed by God. (2 Corinthians 1:21-22)
I am assured all things work together for my good. (Romans 8:28)
I have been chosen and appointed to bear fruit for God. (John 15:16)
I may approach God with freedom and confidence. ( Ephesians 3:12 )
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13)
I am the branch of the true vine, a channel of His life and love (John 15:1)
I am God’s Temple.(1Cor. 3:16) I am complete in Christ. (Colossians.2:10)
I am hidden with Christ in God(Col. 3:3) I have been justified. (Rom. 5:1)
I am God’s co-worker and I am God’s workmanship. ( 1 Corinthians 3:9 )
I am sure the good work God has begun in me will be perfected. ( Phil. 1:5 )
I have been forgiven (Col. 1:14) and adopted as God’s child.(Ephesians 1:5)
I Belong To God
Do You Know
Who You Are?

Saturday, December 27, 2014


Revelation 12:4    The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that he might devour her child the moment it was born.

Revelation 5:13    To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, forever and forever!         

 Knowing Christ makes Christmas a deeper and richer celebration. It is the Incarnation, God become man. It is redemption born in a manger. Christmas is celebrated the world over with carols and words of joy. Below the surface, however, lies a darker side to the Christmas story. It is

something that most people miss or do not even consider.

With the birth of Christ, hell itself was breaking loose. As the angels blazed into this world to announce the arrival of our King, the minions of darkness and Satan’s evil forces began to move in like a sea fog. The Light of the World had come and against Him marched the powers of darkness bent on His destruction.

The attack began at his birth when Herod the King ordered the slaughter of every male infant in Bethlehem. He hoped to kill the King that the Magi had told him of. Throughout his ministry Jesus faced opposition. It came from his family, the religious authorities and the politicians of his day. Satan himself took direct aim at him in the desert. The finest hour for Satan was to see Jesus hanging on the cross, killed by people who had become Satan’s instruments. For three days Satan celebrated the death of the Messiah.

            Then the sovereign power of God was unleashed. The Messiah walked out of the tomb in victory and rose to take his seat on his Father’s  throne in heaven. Christmas celebrates the victory won by the Messiah over the powers of darkness. We celebrate the victory won over 2,000 years ago and the daily victories he gives each of us on our journey home to Him. Christmas reminds us that the darkness could never constrain or extinguish the Light of the World. 

Friday, December 26, 2014


The Angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph and said, “Take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”   Matthew 1:20-21

In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see
the kingdom of God unless he is born again.”
John 3:3

His Birth In History. Jesus Christ was born into this world, not from it. He did not evolve out of history; He came into history from the outside. Jesus Christ is not the best human being He is a Being who cannot be accounted for by the human race at all. He is not man becoming God, but God Incarnate, God coming into human flesh, coming into it from outside. His life is the Highest and the Holiest entering in at the Lowliest door. Our Lord’s birth was an advent, a coming.

            His Birth In Me. Just as Our Lord came into human history from outside, so He must come into me from outside. Have I allowed my personal human life to become a “Bethlehem” for the Son of God? I cannot enter into the realm of the Kingdom of God unless I am born from above by a birth totally unlike natural birth. “You must be born again.” This is not a command, it is a foundational fact. The characteristic of the new birth is that I yield myself so completely to God that Christ is formed in me. Immediately Christ is formed in me, His nature begins to work through me.
            God manifest in the flesh – that is what is made profoundly possible for you and me by the Redemption. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

My Utmost for His Highest, By Oswald Chambers. December 25.

Thursday, December 25, 2014


Luke 2:30-32    For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.


The celebration of Christmas grows stale and jaded if we do not recognize that beyond it lies yet another day and another week and another year. Into these days Christ sends us to spend our time finding, healing, feeding, releasing, rebuilding, bringing and making. As the people of God, the friends of Christ and bearers of the Holy Spirit we rejoice in what has happened for us at Christmas. We rejoice in what awaits us as we live as salt and light among the people of this world.


When the song of the angels is stilled,
When the star in the shy is gone,
When the kings and princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flock,
The work of Christmas begins:

To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoner,
To rebuild the nations,
To bring peace among the brothers,
To make music in the heart.

---  Howard Thurman 

Wednesday, December 24, 2014


Luke 10:38-42    Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made… “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed.”

 Are you having trouble keeping a Christ-centered focus this Christmas? You’re not alone, be sure of that. Is the pace of the Christmas season beginning to out-run you? Get in line, you’re not alone. Stop everything for a few minutes when you begin to sense hopelessness in this frantic season around you.

Find a quiet place without interruption. Open your Bible to the section quoted above and read the entire passage. I think God knew we would need this story. I think it is given to us with the Christmas season in mind. I believe it will help put the Christmas season in its proper context. Remember that Christ is with you and He is your calming companion.

                        The darkest time in the year,
The poorest place in town,
Cold, and a taste of fear,
Man and woman alone,
What can we hope for here?

More light than we can learn,
More wealth than we can treasure,
More love than we can earn,
More peace than we can measure,
Because one child is born.

--- Christopher Fry, One Child Is Born

Tuesday, December 23, 2014


Luke 2:34-35    “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”

 Hanukkah is seen as an exclusively Jewish holiday celebration. It is a celebration commemorating the victory of Judas Maccabeus, a Jew, who victoriously overthrew the Greek occupiers of Israel during the time between the end of the Old Testament and the birth of Christ. Today this holiday marks a time of celebrating the peace and freedom that only God can give. It is also a time to rededicate lives to the true God.

For Messianic Jews, those who maintain their Jewish heritage and accept Jesus Christ as Emanuel, their Lord and their Savior, Hanukkah takes on a deeper meaning. They see God’s providence at work in preserving His people so that the Messiah might one day be born. Unlike Maccabeus, they recognize the true Messiah is Jesus, the son of God, born of the virgin Mary. He liberates us not from political oppressors but from sin and Satan. On the Cross, Jesus offers the final sacrifice for our sins. No longer do we need to appease God for our iniquities. We are now at peace with God, free from the consequences of our sin and able to choose to dedicate ourselves to Him.

The infant in the manger did not set all things right at that moment in time. But, the miracle of His birth set in motion God’s plan for our deliverance from sin. To this day men, women and children are turning to the baby born in Bethlehem as their Messiah. He alone frees them to believe that He alone is their salvation. May this Christmas season remind all believers in Christ that we share trust in an awesome God. Rejoice with the angels and marvel as the shepherds and wise men did so many years ago.

Monday, December 22, 2014


Luke 2:1-5  In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.

               Once a year the Christmas season strikes both the sacred and secular worlds with sledgehammer force: Suddenly Jesus Christ is everywhere.

For approximately one month His presence is inescapable. You may accept Him or reject Him, affirm Him or deny Him, but you cannot ignore Him. Of course He is proclaimed in speech, song and symbol in all the Christian churches. But He rides every red-nosed reindeer, lurks behind every new doll, resonates in the most sacralized “season’s greetings”. Remotely or proximately, He is toasted in every cup of Christmas cheer. Each sprig of holly is a hint of His holiness, each cluster of mistletoe a sign He is here.

            For those who claim His name, Christmas heralds this luminous truth: The God of Jesus Christ is our absolute future. Such is the deeply hopeful character of this sacred season. By God’s free doing in Bethlehem, nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. Light, life and love are on our side.

            “Jesus Christmases in us whenever people come home to themselves in our presence, and when they feel a little less hopeful and joyful because we are absent.” These words, scribbled in a journal several years ago in solitude, lay hold of me with prophetic power when the great season of hope begins. Christians are a people of hope to the extent that others can find in us a source of strength and joy. If not, our profession of faith “By the power of the Holy Spirit He was born of the Virgin Mary and became man” is as academic, tentative and hopeless as the alcoholic who promises, “I’ll quit tomorrow.” To know means to be transformed by what one knows.



The Relentless Tenderness of Jesus, by Brennan Manning, pgs. 161-162. 

Sunday, December 21, 2014


2 Corinthians 4:7-9 But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; stuck down, but not destroyed…

Next to the Lord Jesus, perhaps no one endured more trial and trouble in the first century than the apostle Paul. Think of all the things that happened to him. He was shipwrecked (Acts 27:13-44), beaten (Acts 21:32), rejected (Acts 13:50), taunted (Acts 19:28-31), imprisoned (Acts 24:27; 28:11-31), mocked (Acts 17:32) and made a target for assassination (Acts 23:12). Let him describe his dilemma in 2 Corinthians 11:23b-27,

I am a better one—I am talking like a madman—with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.

            As we can see, hardship, persecution and crisis characterized his life. In his day as well as in ours, professing the name of Christ is not a glamorous position. Often it results in conflict, isolation and repeated heartache.

            What’s pressing you today? Are you suffering from poor health? Is your spirit wounded from someone’s biting tongue? Has someone betrayed or abandoned you? Take comfort in Paul’s words. Remember, you may be down, but not out; staggered but not defeated. Let Jesus’ sustaining power supply your spirit with resolve to keep going.

Written by H. Curtis McDaniel

Saturday, December 20, 2014


Isaiah 43:2-3a  When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.

             Water and fire are important spiritual symbols in Israel’s history, When Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, they crossed the Red Sea basin on dry ground as the river waters towered on both sides of their traveling corridor (Exodus 14:22). When Daniel and his colleagues plunged into Nebuchadnezzar’s fiery furnace, a fourth person like “a son of the gods” walked with them in the intense oven, causing the king to leap in amazement and to acknowledge that Daniel’s God had rescued him and his friends from certain death (Daniel 3:19-29). In times of intense crisis when God’s servants encountered great difficulty, the Lord overshadowed them with his preserving and guiding presence. As they obeyed, he went ahead of them and worked within them.

            It’s not an issue of “if” you will pass through rivers of difficulty or fires of crisis. It’s a question of when. So often God engineers these dilemmas to give him an opportunity to breakthrough into our lives with life-changing power! Let’s admit it – so often when everything is going fine, we get absorbed into our own world and forget the Lord and his consuming presence (Hebrews 12:29).  We take God’s blessings for granted and soon become lax in our gratitude. So to quicken us, the Lord turns up the temperature in the furnace.

            I’m not saying that your current trial was engineered by God’s initiative. Sometimes our sin, ignorance, stupidity and hard-heartedness causes us to make bad decisions. But one thing is for certain. If you’re going through a time of difficulty, God wants to be with you. All you have to do is ask him to walk with you and he will.

Written by H. Curtis McDaniel

Friday, December 19, 2014


Proverbs 15:3 The eyes of the LORD are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good.
              If you took a poll to ask professing Christians to define the meaning of God’s omnipresence, odds are good that you wouldn’t get a clear description. When asked about this truth, many people have offered the famous childhood cliché, “God is here, God is there, God is everywhere”, by rote so frequently that when you try to press for a deeper explanation, you discover that some of this thinking reveals elements of pantheism. Evidently there are many who conceive of God as some kind of numinous or spiritual mist that canopies the earth in some kind of flowing motion. If God hovers and covers the whole world, the reason he sees you is because the substance of his being has stretched to a point where he’s positioned to see what’s happening in your life.

            This understanding limits the vastness and immensity of God’s position over all his created cosmos. Scripture says his eyes “are everywhere, keeping watch”. If we’re going to understand the meaning of God’s omnipresence correctly, we must start with this verse. God is the great watcher and keeper of his entire created universe. Omnipresence simply means that the actions of the farthest star are just as clear to him as the thoughts in your heart. He’s so great, so vast, so mighty and so big that everything stands before his glorious presence. And everything in this doctrine means everything.

           Precious Christian, take comfort in this wonderful truth. You may think that God is far away, but truly he’s not. As the omnipresent, living One, he sees your trial. He knows your plight. He recognizes your grief and pain. And he did something about it in the person of his Son, Jesus Christ. Draw strength from the fact that he sees what’s going on in you and around you and he wants to help you grow deeper through it.

Written by H. Curtis McDaniel

Thursday, December 18, 2014


Isaiah 40:28 Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable.

Isaiah 40 can often be called a spiritual checkpoint chapter for Christians. God uses it to help us understand who he is and where we fit into his creation. Christian, when your spirit is down and you’re tempted to look inward and throw a selfish pity-party, take a moment to review verses 12-22. Here’s a condensed version of the prophet’s thoughts:

·       Did anyone cooperate with God in the creation of the heavens and the earth? Of course not! (vs.12)
·       Does any person understand the mind of the Lord or has anyone ever given him counsel? No! Impossible! (vs.13)
·       Has anyone given knowledge or insight to the Almighty’s understanding? Certainly not! (vs. 14)
·       Can anyone claim to have self-merit and self-worth before God? No way! (vs.15-17)
·       Can any image or idol compare with God’s splendor and greatness? Surely not! (vs.18-20)
·       Is anyone or anything higher than God? Without a doubt, No! He sits enthroned above all things as Creator. (vs.21-22)

The way Isaiah words these questions makes it practically ridiculous, at times even silly, to answer them. Any person in a right frame of mind would know that the Lord is so much bigger, greater and mightier than anyone or anything in this world. However when you’re stuck in a time of despondency and deep discouragement, most likely you’re not looking up to him. You’re either looking inward or downward. And when this happens, you lose perspective and focus.

Spend some time today thinking about God’s preeminence. Lift your spiritual eyes upward. See how big he really is! He sees you and wants to help you! Ask Him!

Written by H. Curtis McDaniel

Wednesday, December 17, 2014


Psalm 23:6b                And I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

One of the characteristics of capitalism is the mobility of the work-force. The average American changes jobs every two and a half years. This is not because of lay-offs or terminations of employment. Thirty percent of workers plan to change jobs in the next three years. In today’s economy, millions of Americans have moved to other parts of the country to find work. We are a very mobile community of workers in good times and in bad.

Worker mobility and loyalty are not mutually exclusive. That is, loyalty directly affects this mobility of people. How then can we nurture a heart of loyalty in our ministry? This line of Psalm 23 reflects a person aware of the richness of life that he has experienced under the care of the shepherd. Instead of hopelessness or despair, David expresses his commitment to the good shepherd. It is a voluntary act on his part to remain with the shepherd and work to further His work.

Loyalty is nurtured by the shepherd leader. Loyalty goes beyond the paycheck and focuses on the mission. Even if your followers do not remain with the mission, you can still nurture them to be advocates of the mission after they are gone.

Loyal sheep remain because the shepherd can be trusted. Their work is fulfilling and the pay is supporting their needs. They trust the leader and the organization to provide materially and spiritually for them. They choose to never leave. Others may not be able to leave. These sheep need a leader that can keep them productive and a part of the flock. They may not be able to leave because of children or ailing parents. Others may lack the ability to obtain other employment because of educational or physical limitations. For them, the ministry and the shepherd are the best they can achieve.

The good shepherd knows his sheep. He strives to provide for each as they have need. He leads them together to a place of blessing and fulfillment. 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014


Psalm 23:6a                Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.

I am going to ask you to do something. I want you to summarize what you have learned in life in a single statement. Yup, take all your years to this moment and summarize them in one life statement. Are you terrified or scared? How long does it take you to do this?

When asked this question, Nikita Khrushchev, a former leader of the old Soviet Union said: “Never turn your back”. Conrad Hilton, the founder of the Hilton Hotel chain said: “The shower curtain goes inside the tub.” Many people settle for simple, shallow views of life. We do not need to be a philosopher to have our own creed to live by. But we should know our basic or foundational belief from which our life grows.

Shepherds know the basics. David’s foundational belief as a shepherd was that the sheep are to be protected and nurtured. Without this principle he and others would perish, life would have no material goods and things would be much worse for them all. Sheep were his livelihood.

As shepherd leaders, people are our livelihood. The choices we make each day impact our relationships with people, at home, in the community and at work. For Christians, people are the only “things” that will live in eternity. Mountains pass away. Oceans dry up. Trees decay into the floor of the forest. But all people live forever. Where they live forever is determined now.

Shepherds can lead by responding to circumstances. Or they can lead in response to people. The vision for the shepherd changes when they live in response to people. The focus moves from circumstances to eternity. Where will my sheep live when life here ends? The vision and foundation for leadership moves to the eternal needs of the sheep and what, I, as leader can do to ensure their eternal reward. The right vision directs our leadership.

Monday, December 15, 2014


Psalm 23:5c                My cup overflows.

The demands of life begin from the moment we awaken each day. To-do lists dictate much of our home and work life. Visitors, phone calls, outside appointments, meetings and lunches consume our days. By the end of a day you look back and find many duties unfinished or un-started. The hours never seem enough to get it all done. This is living life from the demand side. The demand of the list creates pressure and impossible deadlines.

King David found the secret to living life with his daily cup overflowing. There was more in his life, an abundance that allowed him to say earlier “I shall not want”. His life was sufficient and he was content. No longer did his life reflect an endless stream of wearying demands.

The secret to his overflow was his relationship to God. He knew God would meet the needs of his day. Circumstances and provisions are always fulfilled by God. The stress of trying to complete work, minimize distractions or simply find quiet uninterrupted hours to work can only be solved by God. Trusting him, listening to his promptings and prioritizing life according to His rules will begin to change your daily flow of life.

Oftentimes the problems we face can only be fixed with a more intimate walk with Him. When we allow the Holy Spirit to change us and mold us into the image of Christ then life is viewed from a different perspective. The urgencies begin to lose their grip on us. People become more important than papers and pens.

Do as Christ said: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Then watch as your cup begins to overflow each day.

Sunday, December 14, 2014


Psalm 23: 5b               You anoint my head with oil.

            In colonial Philadelphia of the 1750’s the economy was struggling. No one seemed to have an answer to this decline. Other cities throughout the colonies were prospering. No one had a solution but Benjamin Franklin. One day he made a simple and odd suggestion: hire some street sweepers.

            As it turned out, when the dust in the streets of the city got bad, people would not venture out of their homes to shop and the shop keepers were keeping their doors closed due to the dust. Franklin noted in his diary that the dust in one person’s eyes was surely an inconvenience. But dust in the eyes of everyone could seriously derail the economic and social life of the whole community.

            As leaders we need to recognize the little things that can have huge disadvantages to our people or our organization. Sometimes removing something can create a better environment or advantage for people. This simple fact is needed by the shepherd. Knowing the environment and struggles in which staff is operating will help to ensure that operations run well.

            We want to think that our work as shepherd leaders is always to bring resources to our people or ministry. This is intended to improve the product or environment of our people. It can help to increase productivity and make tasks more efficient or effective.

But we fail to see that many times there are people or practices that inhibit others from acting and performing at their best levels. This is when the shepherd’s instincts and watchfulness are critical in removing the ‘sandspurs’ that cause friction in the group. When this occurs and the shepherd sweeps away the irritants, the oil flows freely again. People work together and the remaining practices become more effective.

Saturday, December 13, 2014


Psalm 23:5a        You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.

Conflict is natural to everyday life at home, work or play. It is a human condition because we are people of different tastes, abilities, passions and minds. If we ignore this reality then we become vulnerable to frequent moments of conflict. Ignoring or unresolved conflict compounds the effects of earlier problems and makes future conflict more severe. Ignoring conflict reveals our thoughtlessness towards others and towards ourselves.

You may feel inadequate about how to go about resolving problems that come up but we are not without help. People experienced in the Christian approach to conflict can assist you. The Bible is the best resource to resolve problems and conflicts between people. It takes work, but it is work that will reap dividends.
First, accept the conflict. Conflict is a truly necessary ingredient in any relationship. Keep in mind that each of us brings a sack full of “stuff” into our relationships. Fears, insecurities, hurts and humiliations are the “stuff” we carry and will influence our response to the problem and others.
Conflict should never be about winning or losing. As Christians it should be about improving everyone involved. Disagreements should never digress. That is to say that you must stay focused on the issue. It is easy to attack the person or their behaviors that have no bearing on the matter at the center of the conflict.

            Finally, conflict needs to reach an end that includes both parties voicing their “sorry” and a mutually agreed solution. Compromise and bending may be required. But that is the life of the Christian, seeking the best for others and living as servants to all.

Friday, December 12, 2014


Psalm 23:4c                Your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

            Leadership tools are to enable the shepherd to guide, discipline and protect the sheep. We might say today that the compass and picture frame are the best examples to explain shepherd leadership.

            The compass allows us to know the direction we are headed. It tells us how far off course we may be. When lost, it ensures us of the correct direction to be taken. It is a constant reminder of the true position of the organization.

            The other tool is called the frame. A frame around a picture helps us focus on an area much larger than the camera could record. The frame captures a specific part of a much larger scene. The frame helps the shepherd build a context in which the subordinate leaders can make decisions and direct the organization forward. It is the boundaries within which the people and organization exist and grow. Similar to the protected pasture within which the shepherd maintained his flock of sheep.

            The goal is to enable the followers to make their own decisions. The greatest obstacle to this is when the followers are framing decisions for leaders, rather than making the decisions themselves. They will investigate and bring recommendations to the leader rather than report to the leader of their decisions made based on specific information.

Both important and unimportant decisions must be made by the followers of the leader. If they are not allowed to make decisions or are afraid to make them, then the ability to lead others will always be dependent on the shepherd leader. They will never learn to lead if they do not learn to make their own decisions. Their growth will be stunted.

Sometimes letting others get lost in their leadership is a teaching moment. Let others make mistakes. Doing nothing may enable others to reposition themselves within the framework of the mission statement. Guiding, disciplining, and protecting require that others learn to lead by their own understanding of the mission, their review of the facts and their decisions. 

Thursday, December 11, 2014


Psalm 23:4b                I will fear no evil, for you are with me;

The cruise liner sailing the seas requires a special leadership style in the captain. He must be concerned with the ship’s destination and the comfort of the individual passenger. He must be present with the crew and those enjoying vacations. He must be side by side with people to ensure both objectives are met, not one or the other.

Same is the case with the shepherd leader. He must have his eye on the individual sheep and the direction that the flock is headed. His work is not an either-or effort but both-and journey. The shepherd who loses this dual focus will find his flock scattered and their useful purpose lost.

To accomplish side-by side goals the shepherd leader will need to diligently remove irritants, provide resources to others or reassign work. Irritants arise when the wrong people are put to work with sheep that are listening to the shepherd. Those who cannot or will not follow the shepherd become disruptive to those who are following. They cannot feed on the mission that others are busy working to administer. Irritants can cause dis-unity and distraction to the others who are working hard to further the mission.

Secondly, the shepherd needs to know the tools that his staff need to accomplish their work. Encouragement, training, efficient tools and good co-laborers become the resources that the staff may need to accomplish their work and meet their goals. Nothing should distract the shepherd from providing a productive, efficient and safe work place for others.

Lastly, it may happen that people are not fitted properly to a specific job. It may be that their talents or skills are bettered suited for another place within the organizations. The shepherd knows his sheep well enough to move people from place to place to ensure an efficient and productive operation. In this way the employee finds greater fulfillment in their work, co-workers see the benefit of team work and the organization can meet its mission. 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014


Psalm 23:4      Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death…

            Life is not always a “rose garden” of joy and fulfillment. Everyone suffers through times of trial and darkness. Christians are not exempt from periods of dryness or silence from God. Perseverance in faith carries us through these times. Having experienced these periods in life, we find that we have learned something new or grown spiritually. God is never absent in those times. In fact, these times bring us closer to Him as the years go by.

I am a sheep without a shepherd. I do not know whom to follow – and I am utterly in want.
I am empty. Nothing satisfies. Nothing refreshes me. I find no real fulfillment. No lasting security. No real rest.
I feel like a lost soul – totally, irretrievably depleted.
I don’t believe anyone walks with me in the darkest valley! And contemplation of my own mortality holds me ‘all my lifetime in bondage under fear of death’ – for in that final hour I will be profoundly alone!
I feel misguided and I find no authentic comfort in anything.
I feel unwelcome in my world, always hungry for something – and totally overwhelmed by a thousand threatening forces.
My blistered headaches, with no oil of relief. My joy cup is dry all the way to the bottom. Bone dry.
I have given up hoping for any real quality to my life. In fact, genuine goodness and mercy have eluded me all of my days – and I don’t really expect things to change.
Oh, how I ache to belong somewhere. But I don’t really feel at home anywhere…And I think I will feel lonely and homeless forever. 
 (Un-Psalm 23 by Lynn Anderson)

            Shepherds know this valley. They know the darkness and loneliness of being without any source of physical or spiritual comfort. Imagine living with this condition for years or decades on end. How sad and debilitating you would be. Yet that is how many of the people we minister to live. They find their way to our door in just this condition. You are the shepherd of God to lead them through the valley of the shadow of death. Show them His love.

Monday, December 8, 2014


Psalm 23:3b         He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.

People today expect independence, adventure, entertainment, recreation, privacy, pampering, comfort and the center of attention. It’s no wonder that some leaders complain that their work is more like herding cats than shepherding people. The challenge for shepherds is dealing with people exhibiting these same attributes.

The world is full of people out living life according to their standards and these attributes. To bring these people to new relationships and new life the shepherd will need to lead from the front. He/she will need to find the path that can be navigated through a forest of competing world views. Shepherds of all kinds lead from the front. They go before their flock to show them how to find the true path in life.

The tools a shepherd uses to lead are different from those used by the world. Shepherds do not rely on tools as much as on relationships. Communication is critical for any relationship. Be sure to have time weekly or monthly with your staff or key people. Be sure to visit the work locations where your people contribute to the organization. Learn about them by being with them.

Sheep will follow a leader. Identify someone as a “lead” sheep and get them moving. The others will follow. People respond more to their peers than their supervisor. Getting others to hold one another accountable brings the entire team together and on the path you lead them.

Yogi Berra once said, “If you don’t know where you’re going, you might not get there”. Know the direction you want others to go and get moving. Bring one person with you and get them going. Then go back to another sheep and get them moving. It may seem like you are doing and saying the same things over and over. You are. But Shepherd leaders accept the challenge and know that sheep need to be led and fed daily. 

Sunday, December 7, 2014


Psalm 2:3a     He restores my soul.

Sheep need shepherds to protect them from predators but also to ensure safe and secure boundaries that will keep the sheep in and the predators at bay. Sheep can still get out of the pen and they will try. Self-destruction results from going beyond the parameters set to protect the individual and the entire flock.

C. S. Lewis truly notes in an essay titled “The Weight of Glory”, “There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals, which we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit….your neighbor is the holiest object presented to your senses.”

The weight of responsibility for a shepherd is when they realize the reality that they work among immortals. People live forever, in one place or the other. Viewing your co-workers and others through the lens of immortality creates urgency in our ministry. Such a view helps to prioritize daily life. Creating a workplace that nourishes both the material and spiritual needs of your sheep will bring eternal rewards, if not temporal ones.

Failure is no fun. It is humiliating and debilitating for all of us in some way or form. Shepherds see failure as an opportunity to change direction, position or focus. Those who fail can be restored when they see that one door has closed and there are new ones to discover how to open. Failure is not the end. Shepherds ensure that failure is not fatal.

Shepherds live with the ability to dispense mercy and compassion. Mercy is not punishing someone when the rules demand it. Compassion means providing for someone when justice demands that they not receive anything. Shepherds do this because they have received both mercy and compassion from God through Jesus Christ.

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