The curse of social media…

I’m sure we’ve all seen it happen, or even experienced it ourselves on social media.  The rant, gossip, arguments and jabs in posts, whether it’s Facebook, Instagram, or even Twitter.  Social media has become a faceless sounding board, from you and me, to political leaders and entertainers.  It has made “going off” on someone or something so very easy, and so widely disseminated to the public, that it has quickly become a divisive tool in society.  Let’s talk about the effects of that and what God’s words of wisdom are for the situations we may put ourselves in if we choose to participate.

Rants and arguments on social media can bring out the worst in people, and it’s not just the initial post.  All it takes is for one person to start a slew of side-taking and back-stabbing to get some attention.  The Bible is very clear about responding to social media situations.  Just because we have the right to respond, and even to an opinion, it does not mean it is the wisest way to address the situation.  Many times those who respond don’t have a basis to even be a part of the conversation, but want their name to show up on the comments of a post, and for how social media works, the more people who feed on that negativity, the more “popular” the post gets… right, wrong or indifferent.

God built us to live in community with each other, to build each other up, and not tear down.  Yes, we can have differences of opinion, but does your opinion really matter to someone’s post who you do not know and would you never strike up a conversation over coffee to discuss the differences in your opinion civilly if you were forced to?  What would happen if we were required to sit down with the people on a post in a roundtable and discuss a topic the way many posts are?  I’m betting that out of 100 people who engage in a toxic post, that you wouldn’t get 5 to show up at the table to discuss it.  Just because it’s easy to respond to a post, is it meaningful and worthy of a response?

Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you will be like him yourself.
Answer a fool according to his folly, or he will be wise in his own eyes.
Proverbs 26:4-5 (NIV)

What these two verses are saying in Proverbs is that one should not be drawn down to  someone’s level by responding, and secondly, sometimes it is wise to correct or discuss, but not in the same manner.  God directs us to correct others gently as in Galatians…

Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression,
you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness.
Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Galatians 6:1 (ESV)

That second part of the verse in The Message translation says “You might be needing forgiveness before the day’s out”.  Thus we always need to consider during a conversation “do unto others as you would want done unto you”…

“If a fellow believer hurts you, go and tell him—work it out between the two of you.
If he listens, you’ve made a friend. ”  Matthew 18:15 (MSG)

Let’s go deeper…  The first part of Matthew 18:15 says to work it out between the two of you, and not for the world to see.  The second part reinforces that you may never see eye to eye.  Remember, opinions are as unique as fingerprints.  Everyone has one.

It doesn’t just have to be rants or arguments that can hurt.  Seemingly harmless posts to the general public can harbor deep opinion/emotion to those who may be in the know on a topic or know the back story to the post.  Just because you prettied up the post and threw a few accolades out there doesn’t mean it made the post positive and edifying.  Women especially are talented in doing this.  Consider the consequences and intent of what you are posting and who you may be slighting or throwing in front of the bus with small innuendos.  Is it really worth making that small “harmless” jab to cut someone down, which can damage a friendship or even a relationship?  What if it’s a co-worker or a boss, is it worth losing your job over?

So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.
Romans 14:19 (ESV)

Shepherdess, please consider your use of social media in your life.  Are you building others up, or tearing others down?  Consider writing a draft of the post, and then stepping away for awhile and praying about your intent and purpose.  You may find in the heat of the moment of writing it, may not be the best intentions, and you can just delete the draft with no harm done.

Cara

P.S.  If you have children, please tend to them regarding their exposure to social media.  Set solid guidelines and stick to them (don’t cave to peer or child pressure).

Courage to move past fear…

Accomplishing a goal should be a great experience, right?  You’ve decided what you’ve wanted to do, worked hard to get to your goal, and you’ve made it!  Time to announce it and celebrate, right?  Well, not always…  I have experienced lots of fear in the past couple of weeks in culminating a goal of starting my own business doing training.  Starting a business is scary, and completely out of my comfort zone.  Even though the goal was prayer driven and rooted in faith, I was frozen in fear of putting myself out there for criticism and rejection of my peers and clients.

The fear of human opinion disables;
trusting in GOD protects you from that.
Proverbs 29:25 (MSG)

I literally felt disabled, crippled to move forward.  Oh, how we allow our fellow humans to dictate what we feel and do!  I’m guilty of this each and every day.  And social media is a double-edged sword when it comes to either discouraging people or encouraging them, but is the very best marketing tool out there for advertising a business.  It was easy when I was just working with a small group of people and and just throwing a few bones out to let people know what I was doing, but not really pushing forward to the goal.

Today, I was struck with encouragement from posts of others in Facebook groups, not directly pointed to me.  I knew God was speaking to me and that I was letting fear be an idol, pushing my trust and worth in God aside.  Yes, I said idol.  We can allow the opinion of others be an idol in which we look to for our worth, but for those who believe, your worth is entirely judged by our Savior, and our worth is far beyond what any human being can show or comprehend.

Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered.
Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.

Luke 12:6-7 (ESV)

God values us so much more than any other creature on earth.  We are NOT to fear.  He cares for us, no matter what anyone else thinks.  But why do we allow this to happen so often in our lives? I believe it has to do with how our culture is driven around success and the meaning of success.  Thus why the below post struck me so hard.

49464881_10215386960206114_7782297895004274688_n

We let the fear of failure cripple us, and we turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy and are unsuccessful because we let fear win.  We have become the Joshua that God commanded multiple to be “strong and courageous”.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous.
Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed,
for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”

Joshua 1:9 (ESV)

If what you are doing is God ordained, rooted in prayer and done in faith, God will direct and make it all for His good, so there is no failure in His eyes.  If we do what He commands, we will always have met success.

Shepherdess, don’t let fear cripple your goals and dreams or even the desire to protect yourself.  Stay fast to Him and want what He wants in your life and you will soar!

Cara

Angel, Shepherd, Warrior……

Angel, Shepherd, Warrior…………….

I was reading a devotion a few days ago about guardian angels.  The author was questioning whether we each have a guardian angel (ultimately his take is that yes we do have a guardian angel).  As I read through the article, he used the words angel, shepherd and warrior in the same paragraph.  Those three words jumped at me and my mind was off to the races.  Comparison of the three terms took some research and thought.

While those words do not immediately seem to go together, upon reflection I think you may find they do.  In fact, they are probably linked much more closely than imagined.

When we think of angels we may see flowing robes, wings, halos, light, etc.  When we think of a shepherd we may see rugged, outdoorsy, a loner with a staff, a flock of animals, etc.  When we think of a warrior we may see armor, strength, weapons, protector, etc.

Where is the link between the three?  My main thought is that all three share the aspect of guarding and the act of protection when required.

Angels watching over us (For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. 12 On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.Psalm 91:11-12)

A shepherd caring for the flock (He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young. Isaiah 40:11)

A warrior protecting from ensuing danger (David writes – Blessed be the Lord, my rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle; Psalm 144:1).

As you tend your flock remember that God is with us as we go about the job of guarding, protecting and yes, possibly even fighting.

But the Lord is with me like a mighty warrior;
    so my persecutors will stumble and not prevail.
They will fail and be thoroughly disgraced;

    their dishonor will never be forgotten.

Jeremiah 20:11

We need to be aware of potential danger (one step ahead), to remove our flock from anything that might threaten it (or us), and if the time comes to fight, we need to be prepared for battle.

This will have different meaning for each of us, but it is vital that we pay attention to this part of our Shepherdess job.  We wish good health and long life for those we love, and do many things daily to create the environment for that to happen.  I urge you to explore the ways you should increase protection for your flock.  There are many classes, books, or instructors who will be more than happy to help you on this journey.

The Good Shepherdess Ministry offers a free seminar to help you learn ways to begin this process.  If your group has an interest please reach out to us.

Tend your flock well, Shepherdess.

Jamie

 

 

 

We. Are. Blessed.

I’m trying a “through the bible” devotional this year as I have never tried to go thru the bible in one year.  One of my challenges this year is to read more and seek His word for me.  The authors of the devotional use different translations of the bible based on the theme for the day and are very particular in using different versions if one version is worded for impact a bit more than another.

Today was a revelation for me as one of the passages we looked at was the Sermon on the Mount that Jesus gave.  It’s that familiar “Blessed are the…” passage, where Jesus looks at people and explains why they are blessed.  Ironically, before today, I never really put myself in those categories that Jesus was talking to me personally about being blessed.  It was always about they or them, “others”.  The devotional had me look at the passage in The Message version and WOW…  Jesus wanted the Sermon to speak to US and how WE are blessed with God in our lives!  Take a read…

“You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope.
With less of you there is more of God and his rule.

You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you.
Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.

You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less.
That’s the moment you find yourselves
proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.

You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God.
He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.

“You’re blessed when you care.
At the moment of being ‘carefull,’ you find yourselves cared for.

You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right.
Then you can see God in the outside world.

You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight.
That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.

You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution.
The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom.”

“Not only that—count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even!—for though they don’t like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble.
Matthew 5:3-12 (MSG)

There’s an entire blog post tied up in each one of these separate blessings!  I’m betting that at least one of those statements hits home with you today.  I know it did for me.  Especially verse 5.

“You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.
Matthew 5:5 (MSG)

Do you ever find yourself thinking and feeling like you are not measuring up, or are lacking, or insecure in other’s eyes?  Maybe some of us do more than others.  It’s something I struggle with on a daily basis and God states right at this point that if we can be content with who we are, we have everything that matters.  We have Him and His love, what else do we need?  Gulp…  So much of our lives revolve around what “others” think, but do we allow ourselves to bask in how He made us.  Remember, we are made in His image.

So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.
Genesis 1:27 (ESV)

Ladies, I know this is a struggle for us (again including me), but we are loved and cherished by Him.  Don’t look past Him to look at what your peers think and try to measure yourself up to them.  I’m well aware that this is a constant daily battle, but know that you are not battling alone.  The ladies you are measuring up to, are most likely trying to measure up to you as well.  Take the first step and let the one who you are trying to measure up to know that you love them just as they are, and remind them that God does so as well.  They have already obtained the most valuable gift.

Tending to our flock includes supporting our tribe of other Shepherdesses around us so that we can all be successful with our flocks.  Love well ladies!

Cara

Wisdom………

Wisdom…….what is wisdom?  If you ask ten people I am sure you will receive ten different answers.  As the old saying goes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so too I think are definitions and meanings.

The internet defines wisdom as the quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment; the quality of being wise.  A second definition is the soundness of an action or decision with regard to the application of experience, knowledge, and good judgment.

Some synonyms are intelligence, sense, common sense, shrewdness, judgment, and prudence.

What does wisdom mean to you Shepherdess?

For me wisdom is common sense and judgment applied to my situations.  Making wise decisions in my life is integral with keeping my flock safe.  Wise decisions, both spiritual and physical, are vital to staying on the right path and avoiding life’s pitfalls.  There are times my decisions aren’t fun, but my responsibility as a Shepherdess far outweighs what my selfish and dare I say childish human nature desires.

While I do not always have the answer I need, I have the ability to reach out for counsel.  I have an incredibly smart husband, I have wise friends, I have research books, I have the internet, I have life experiences, but first and foremost I have a relationship with God who promises to help me when needed.  I have only to reach out to Him and wisdom is mine for the asking.

James 1:5-8 shares that fact with us promising us GENEROUS wisdom if we ask and have faith.

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

 I am by far not perfect, and many times in life my wisdom was lacking resulting in decisions that impacted my life and the life of those around me.  I seriously doubt if any of us can look backward and say, “Yep, I did it all perfectly, wouldn’t change a thing.”

But the good news is we can keep moving forward and can seek the GENEROUS wisdom we need.  And the best news is, it is free for the asking.

Shepherdess, tend your flock wisely and well.

Jamie

 

 

 

 

 

 

Evil in today’s world…

If you’ve been keeping up with our blog, you know that a couple of days ago Jamie posted a very disheartening article regarding the Parkland, FL shooting (read her blog here) last year.  We ask why do these horrific events happen?  And as Jamie eluded to, it’s due to the wickedness and evil in today’s world.  Today let’s not focus on that one event, but what the bible says about those who seek to do evil and what the bible says we need do about it.

Psalm 36 is devoted in it’s entirety to wickedness and God’s protection of His believers.  In verses 1 through 4, David recorded an oracle he received from the Lord.

[1] An oracle is within my heart concerning the sinfulness of the wicked:
There is no fear of God before his eyes.
[2] For in his own eyes he flatters himself too much to detect or hate his sin.
[3] The words of his mouth are wicked and deceitful;
he has ceased to be wise and to do good.
[4] Even on his bed he plots evil; he commits himself to a sinful course
and does not reject what is wrong.
Psalms 36:1-4 (NIV)

The wicked referenced here are evil because they have no fear of God, no dread of the Lord and sense no terror because of their actions, thus they proceed with their wicked deeds.  Verse 2 even goes to say that the wicked are proud of act of evil they commit because they cannot see from God’s viewpoint.  Yes, proud.  And who else may be proud of wicked acts?  No other than Satan himself.  And just like the serpent we all know from Genesis, his words are deceptive and wicked and for evil purposes, as David states in verse 3.  And as we know of most people who have committed the heinous acts, they understand their own lives to be worthless, and thus have no inclination to reject the evil, to the point where verse 4 says that even while they sleep, they plot evil!

You would have thought David would have written this yesterday, and not back in biblical history.  The bible shows evil has been a part of history since Adam and Eve decided to ignore God’s commands in the garden.  And Psalm 36 goes on to reiterate that we need to cling to God’s unfailing love for us and that He is protecting us, like a mother hen with her chicks, or even… as a shepherdess protects her flock.  We may be disappointed or even mad at a spouse, child or friend at times, but we ultimately still love them and ensure their protection.

Your love, O LORD, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies.
Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, your justice like the great deep.
O LORD, you preserve both man and beast.
How priceless is your unfailing love! Both high and low among men
find refuge in the shadow of your wings.
They feast on the abundance of your house;
you give them drink from your river of delights.
For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light.
Psalms 36:5-9 (NIV)

It’s so easy to get caught up in the yuck of this world and allow it to bring us down and spend days frustrated, angry and questioning God on…WHY?  When we do that, Satan gains a foothold, and we begin to doubt and fear.

[10] Continue your love to those who know you,
your righteousness to the upright in heart.
[11] May the foot of the proud not come against me,
nor the hand of the wicked drive me away.
[12] See how the evildoers lie fallen— thrown down, not able to rise!
Psalms 36:10-12 (NIV)

But the Lord wants us to continue to trust His love and not allow the wicked to come against us as in verse 11 says.  Remember the wicked are proud of their acts, and the more we allow evil events to push us away from God, it is victory for Satan and his evil.  David prays specifically for God to help him with that in verse 10 and that should be our very prayer as well, that we continue to look to God and seek him even during these trying times.

There will always be evil in this world until Jesus comes to restore creation to its glorious splendor, but our purpose is to seek Him alone and trust in His steadfast love for us and our flock.

Cara

What are you resolving to do in 2019???

I’ve always found this week to be interesting.  People have navigated through the Christmas season and a collective “sigh” has been heard from people everywhere.  This week is pivotal, it’s a time where I personally look backward at the past year and reflect upon the ups and downs of the year and the craziness that was endured through the year.  It’s also a time many people look to make New Year’s resolutions to change their life for the better over the next year.  According to U.S. News & World Report, 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail by February.  Yes, let that sink in!

Why do you think that is?  My personal opinion is that most resolutions are for outward changes, something tangible that other people can see in you.  Changes that we want other people to see in us… losing 10 lbs, or exercising 3 times a week, or even committing to being on time.  What if we focused this next year on the within, what our heart and soul needs, over what we want to look or feel better outwardly?

The mission of The Good Shepherdess is to help lead you to tending your flock well and keeping them safe.  The key to that is to ensure that YOU are tended to and spiritually healthy as well.  God built us to live in community with each other.  Although this verse is commonly used in the terms of marriage, its background is in the form of companionship (sharing with others) when Solomon was lamenting the perils of isolation.

9Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil.
10For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone
when he falls and has not another to lift him up!
11Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone?
12And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (ESV)

This passage references sharing with friends your labor/task gets better return (v. 9), help in time of difficulty (v. 10), comfort in time of need (v. 11), and protection in time of danger (v. 12).  And if two are better than one, then three are even better!  The more confidants that you have as a Shepherdess, the more you have to lean on.  This also means that you have to allow yourself to be leaned on!

24And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works,
25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
Hebrews 10:24-25 (ESV)

God clearly says that we need to encourage each other to love, and “meet” regularly.  Now I’ve just heard the collectively “Oh no, I don’t have time for this!!!”…  God also gave us tools today that allow us to lean in and be leaned on without having to physically sit across the table with each other at Starbucks over a coffee.  I do not want to discount face to face time.  That is critical, to learn about another person because written words can easily be taken out of context, but it does not need to be the sole source of communication.

So where am I going with this?  Well, it’s another challenge!  Ladies, I challenge you this year to pray about and identify one or two people, who you maybe already have a close relationship with, or maybe not, but you feel God calling you to lean in on, and allow them to minister to you this year.  Maybe do a verse of scripture each day and tell each other how it impacts you.  Find a devotional or book to work through together.  At the very least, pray for and lift up each other on a daily basis, providing verbal or written affirmation for that person.  Talk about life, your feelings, your worries, your faith.  Talk about what God is doing in your life.  Conversation must be honest, real, and no-holds-barred.  Conversely, allow another lady or two to lean in on you.  It may be the same person, maybe not.

12With the help of Silas, whom I regard as a faithful brother,
I have written to you briefly, encouraging you and testifying
that this is the true grace of God. Stand fast in it.
1 Peter 5:12 (NIV)

Good Shepherdess, don’t go this life alone.  Jesus had his disciples and Paul had Silas just to name a couple of examples from the bible where it’s better for two or more to traverse life together.  God will find great joy in seeing his people lean in on and experience His grace with each other.

Cara