Closed door………

Can a closed door, and I mean one that is irrevocably closed to something that we as humans know to be right, ever be a good thing?  You might not see it, so let’s explore.

I have been reading a devotion titled Chase the Lion which discusses courage to step out, and to trust when you are near the lion.  Today’s reading discussed how a closed door might lead to feelings of failure.  Feeling that you had not done enough to make something happen.

Thinking through the devotion reminded me of a story.  Someone I know had been dealing with a rough marriage for many years.  Family, friends, the world all told her to give it up and move on.  Things were never going to change, that had become obvious, even to the woman.

For years she believed, trusted and expected God to step in and fix the mess.  Claiming the promises made in the scripture, ignoring the advice of others, she soldiered on.  Her faith clinging to scriptures about asking, knocking, trusting, mustard seeds, etc.  Every so often things improved and it appeared the door might be opening to a healed relationship.

During year 29 of the marriage, the roller coaster continued, until she finally looked at the door and realized that it was closed, never to be opened again.

Heartbroken she took stock of the situation.  So many questions surfaced.  Was her faith lacking?  Had she done something to deserve punishment?  Had she not been the right sort of wife?  Had all the tears gone unnoticed by Heaven?  Were the words in the Bible false?

Long sleepless nights haunted her.  Every prayer had been aligned with what the Bible said was God’s will.  A petition for a whole, healthy, spiritual family is what God would wish for us.  But the door remained closed.

A closed door is quite simple for God to open, so why had He not done so?  Why did He allow this door to remain so tightly closed?   The situation was not bigger than the Red Sea, so He had the ability to make it right.  The free will of people comes into play here.  It takes both parties to make a relationship work and if one does not wish to remain or to put forth the effort, then failure is the inevitable outcome.

Mercy is one of the gifts we receive and through mercy and love, another door opened letting the sun shine in on what had been many years of darkness.

God opened another door bringing love to the woman, through the gift of a husband who was the perfect answer to any question that might ever arise.

  ‘The words of the holy one, the true one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens.’  Rev. 3:7

God had so completely allowed the old door to remain shut it forced her to move to another doorway, find it open and step through to real happiness.

Shepherdess, as you tend your flock and find closed doors, before attempting to break it down and barge through, pause and ask God if He is the one who shut the door.   Is there another door He has opened?

Jamie

P.S. Yes, I know her well.  The woman in this story is me.  Until I read today’s devotion about God so completely closing some doors, I’m not sure that I recognized what a blessing that closed door has turned out to be.

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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.

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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

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