Violence…when will it end?

Each day when we watch or read the news, it almost always highlights some crime, criminal case, or murder.   But I was taken aback when I opened up my devotional today and the topic was “Violence”.  It started with a grim statistic, that every 68 seconds someone died at the hands of another man as a result of violence (1,270 per day), and that statistic is not from today, rather it is from 1820 to 1945.  Not what you would have expected, right?  Today that statistic is at 60 seconds.  Yes, watch a ticking clock for a minute, and each click of a minute in this world today a life is needlessly taken through violence, 1,440 people each day according to the World Health Organization.

Violence isn’t new to this world.  It only took the 2nd generation from the Garden of Eden for the first violent crime to be committed when Cain killed Abel.  Violence has existed nearly as long as man has, and to extreme levels.

“Forge a chain! For the land is full of bloody crimes
and the city is full of violence.”  Ezekiel 7:23 (ESV)

Violence is a choice that someone makes of their own free will against another for some gain.

You have condemned and murdered the righteous person.
He does not resist you. James 5:6 (ESV)

We cannot become numb or insensitive to the evils of society.  The context for the verse above is from many wealthy men who began to use their influence in courts of justice, bringing death to innocent men who did not resist them.  This means that we will still be disheartened with each act of violence (we must resist becoming numb), and that we need to be diligent in preparation in case we are caught up in an act of violence (we must resist the act).  That is a large premise of The Good Shepherdess, to help educate and prepare people in case the worst day of your life happens.

Shepherdess, it’s so easy to become numb and avoid the news or think that it doesn’t happen here in my town or area with or to people like me, until it does.  We encourage you to not wait for an incident that is close to home, but to actively ensure that you are not part of any violent incident by being proactive in protecting you and your flock.

Are you interested in learning more?  We host a free seminar on learning about how to protect you and your flock against a violent crime?  Reach out to Jamie or myself directly to experience this unique training.

Cara

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Walking in security…

Do you walk in security?  Okay, maybe security is a vague word, how about, do you walk daily in confidence of yourself?  What’s the first thing that crossed your mind when thinking about that question?  If you are a regular reader of our blog, you might have thought in regards to keeping yourself and your flock safe, which is great if that’s what first crossed your mind!  There’s no wrong answer.  We’ll come back to that thought shortly…

Beyond learning and training together about self-protection, Jamie and I also work through daily devotions together to lift each other up and ensure that we stay sharp and strong in His word and our faith, as Proverbs 23:17 commands “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another” (NIV).  We work through topics that are relevant to one or both of us to improve ourselves.  The latest topic we have gone through together is about insecurity.  Am I good enough (fill in the blank)… I would guess that many of you ladies struggle with insecurity currently or have struggled with insecurity at some point in your life.  It is a daily struggle for me personally.

Today’s devotion really struck a chord with me and put things in perspective that correlates our insecurity with self-protection.  It focused on the Armor of God passage in Ephesians 6:10-20.  If you are not familiar with the passage, take time to read the passage now before moving on.  I know it’s long, but bear with me…

How do you feel when you are insecure in yourself?  Do you walk in confidence around your family and friends or in public, or do you walk like you want to go unseen, not noticing others and hoping they won’t notice you?  Insecurity is the devil’s snare.  If we are not standing strong and confident in ourselves (because that’s how God sees us), Satan takes the opportunity to take hold of the insecurity we are grasping onto and grow it.  Do you ever notice if you are insecure, how your mind can continue to build that doubt and discouragement into epic proportions?  When that happens, we are pushing God and how He values us further away.  God commands us to protect ourselves with His armor (verses 14 – 18), and that it must be “daily attire” for us.  Each morning we need to consciously prepare ourselves for battle because we do not know when we will encounter doubt, and the devil is ALWAYS prepared for when that happens and will take advantage of us when it does if we don’t have God’s armor on and Him in focus.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Ephesians 6:12-13 (NIV)

So back to walking in confidence…  We may sound like a broken record by talking about being aware of your situation and being prepared for protecting yourself from being a victim of a crime, but it’s a similar struggle we face daily.  We stress to our students to walk confidently as predators typically do not prey on people who outwardly display confidence.  Don’t stumble by having your head down looking at your phone or being in the zone focusing on a specific task in public.  There is no shame in walking with your head up, with a purpose, looking people in the eye and intentionally people watching.  It needs to be a conscious, daily decision to put on our “armor” when it comes to self-protection.  When we let our guard down we become easy prey for criminals, just as if we turn our eyes from God, we become easy prey for Satan in our insecurity.

Shepherdess, you are fearfully and wonderfully made just as Psalm 139:14 states.  He knitted our very being together.  God wants us to be strong in the face of evil, whether it is allowing Satan to control our thoughts and feelings about ourself, or if it’s protecting ourselves against the physical evil of this world.  His strength is never ending, and if we trust Him and guard ourselves with His armor, tapping into His supply of strength, we can rest in His confidence and reflect the confidence He has in ourselves to others!

Cara

 

 

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).

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

Filled with anger…..

This morning I am filled with anger, dismay, frustration…………so many emotions I am having trouble processing.

I have been reading the timeline of events of the Parkland, Florida shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in February 2018.  The timeline and facts were put together after a 10 month study of the horrific event, and exposes some glaring failures that allowed terrible loss of life. The report walks through the event minute by minute from the time the shooter enters the campus grounds – seen but unchallenged – through the search for said shooter. Diagrams of the school, video footage and 911 tapes are shared, all of which emphasize the many ways this event could have been contained much more quickly resulting in fewer, and dare I say it NO deaths. Huge failures on the part of many people throughout the timeline meant that 17 people, both teen and adult, no longer live on this earth, another 17 were injured and countless people will never be the same.

If you have an interest in learning about this event, I am sharing the link.  It is full of facts, several I had not taken into consideration, and I study these types of events to stay informed for the classes I teach.  One that jumps out at me is that they were making decisions based on video feed that was 20 minutes delayed rather than live feed.  They did not realize that until much later.  This one thing prevented medical personnel from entering the scene and allowed the shooter to leave the building, the school grounds, and go to the nearby Walmart.

(Caution that the the audio tapes may be distressing, however, you can choose to skip listening to those.)

Parkland, FL Shooting

One of the revelations I had while studying this is that we cannot expect others to ride in on the proverbial white horse and save us.  We are responsible for our own safety.  Time delays, lack of preparation, errors in protocol, not having a good understanding of what could and should be done, and possibly cowardice on the part of those who were meant to act allowed this event to happen with catastrophic results!

Why would I spend my time reading and researching this?  Because I need to know and attempt to understand the evil I am dealing with in this world.  I cannot throw the ostrich card on the table and stick my head in the sand, hoping evil passes me by.  It simply does not work that way.  Rather, I need to educate myself, see where the ‘holes’ in the plan exist and do all in my power to plug those ‘holes’.

Shepherdess, if you have children or grandchildren in the public school system you must help educate them on what to do if this type of evil walks down the hall.  Ask your school administration what they have in place to protect your flock.  Ask your local law enforcement what their policy is on responding to an event like this.  Preparation for disaster is not a new concept.  During my lifetime our schools have performed fire drills and tornado drills, hoping and praying the reality would not come to pass.  Bomb shelters in the event of a nuclear attack were constructed and in the generation before me, gas masks were purchased by citizens in the event of biological warfare.  Why are we not preparing our children for active shooting events?  Why is that so difficult to confront?  Why not work to take the fear out of it by talking about it, and teaching them what they can do in the event of?  Taking it a step further, if you work outside the home, have you given thought to what you would do if the evil visits your workplace?  Are you aware that more shootings occur at the workplace than at our schools?

This is a problem that will not go away.  It is not a problem that should be left to others to sort out.  It is our responsibility to educate ourselves, do what we can to help, and not point fingers when the news report hits the air waves.

There are many scriptures in the Bible that guide us on righteous anger, defending ourselves from evil, and protection.  I encourage you to take some ‘me’ time and explore the scriptures.

Shepherdess tend your flock well.

Jamie

 

 

 

Inviting evil into our lives…

Yesterday was a day of frustration.  Instead of an enjoyable day at a shooting competition, after multiple equipment failures, it culminated with a small temper tantrum in which I let anger get the best of me.  We’ve all had those days, right?  We’ve had a negative conversation at work, the kids don’t want to mind, or maybe a small spat with the husband?  Then we have to face the world, who may not see where you’ve been or what your day has been like, yet we unleash a short temper on them.

 One who is wise is cautious and turns away from evil,
but a fool is reckless and careless.
A man of quick temper acts foolishly,
and a man of evil devices is hated.
Proverbs 14:16-17 (ESV)

These verses specifically addresses our quick temper and how flying off the handle can cause someone to do or say things that they may regret.  It may not be the event that caused our anger emotion, but because of our hot-headedness, we react poorly to a situation.  Let’s say you had that bad day, and now you are fighting Christmas traffic.  Someone cuts you off.  You lay on the horn…  Or in the store, you grab the essential items like eggs and milk and head to the express line, only to find a person with 21 items starting to check out in front of you, and they need a price check.  You audibly sigh and mumble under your breath while your body language clearly shows your disdain for that person in front of you.

Seems harmless, right?  Unfortunately these “harmless” situations can become a grave danger to you and your flock.  This is exactly how many incidents of violence begin.  One driver having a bad day, reacting to another driver, and the battle ensues into road rage.  As part of our awareness, we must also be aware of our own emotions and keep them in check to keep ourselves out of harms way.  Worse yet, situations like this could also make it seem like we are the instigator in a violent crime.  Witnesses may not see the initial instigating event, in which you are reacting to.  If they don’t see it, it seems that you may be the instigator and the consequences may be grave.

Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak,
slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.

James 1:19-20 (ESV)

That’s right.  Anger fails to bring us to the righteous life that God desires for us.  God wants us to be a patient people with each other.  We need to train ourselves to be slow to speak (or act) and slow to anger to honor God in all we do.  Not only are we honoring Him in doing that, we are respecting our fellow man and not letting evil invade (back to Proverbs 14:16).  When we are short-tempered, we allow Satan a foothold in our actions, which does not bode well for us, and leads us into sinful ways, which is playing right into Satan’s hands.  Maybe that person who cut you off in traffic is late for an important appointment or the person in the checkout line is in a hurry as well to make it home without paying another hour of babysitting.  Keeping your anger under control shows grace for that other person and Satan hates grace.  You win.

A fool gives full vent to his anger,
but a wise man keeps himself under control.
Proverbs 29:11 (NIV)

Do you have to work on your anger or short temper?  Have a friend keep you accountable and allow them to call you out on it when they have noticed you’ve let it get the best of you.  There’s some good Christian based self-help books you can read regarding healthy emotions, or if severe enough, consider seeking counseling for your anger.  The more aware you are of your emotions, the better you can work on keeping them in check.  Keeping your emotions in check brings health to your flock, glorifies God and keeps you and your flock out of harms way.

Cara