Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Feed My Sheep


This past Sunday my wife at I were sitting at a restaurant when a group of people were seated next to us. It quickly became apparent that these people were new acquaintances out to share a meal and getting to know each other. These people were “church people” and they loudly and proudly proclaimed their place in the church pecking order. Of course their conversation was coached with the utmost humble sounding words and phrases. Once couple was relatively new to their church and when asked why they left their previous church I heard an all too familiar excuse, “We just weren’t being fed.”  
No I wasn’t trying to eavesdrop, they were just very loud and sitting next to me.
But I was amused at the couple’s excuse for leaving a church because they were not being fed. You see this comment has been a favorite excuse for many Christians. The reality is that Jesus charged the leaders of the infant church to “Feed my sheep” (John 21:17).
What does Jesus mean feed? Today in the 21st century most believers think of it as a passive learning process. We think of sitting through a sermon or attending a Bible study as being fed. What we really are saying when we say, "I haven't been fed much lately." Is really code for, "The Pastor's sermons are not connecting with me. I’m just not getting anything out of his messages. Therefore there must be something wrong with the Pastor, ‘cause it certainly can’t be me!”
What we are really saying is that we need to be spoon fed must like a baby. But Jesus picture of a good shepherd found in John 10 is one who leads hos sheep to a pasture for feeding. He doesn’t chew the grass for his sheep. They are expected to eat for themselves. His job is to lead them to places where they can graze. Additionally his job is to protect the flock from any and all harm. Finally the watchmen of John 10 were tasked with teaching the sheep to recognize their shepherd’s voice.
You see even today in the Middle East sheep are led not herded. They are trained to recognize the voice of their shepherd and to follow their shepherd wherever he leads them. (See John 10:4) As pastors, teachers and disciple makers aren't training our flocks to recognize the Good Shepherd’s voice than our sheep will inevitably go hungry.
Excuse me I think I hear my Shepherd calling
Pastor Val

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Signs & Wonders

Recently I’ve been wondering a lot about signs from God. One of the Bible studies I’ve been teaching just finished the Gospel of John (the 4th book of the New Testament of the Bible). In that book John chooses to use only seven signs (think miracles) to help to prove that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God.

Near the end of the book after Christ’s resurrection from the dead He appears to the disciples in a locked room. But Thomas one of the disciples was absent. When told about the others seeing Jesus risen from the dead Thomas states the he won’t believe unless he sees and examines the Risen Christ himself. Jesus suddenly appears and tells Thomas to check him out. The written account never indicates that Thomas does any physical checking but simply falls at Jesus feet and worships Him.

Jesus goes on to say that it’s one thing to see and believe but it is another thing all together to believe without seeing, without a sign. (see John 20:29)

Tom is not the only Biblical character who asks for a sign Gideon asks for one, too. But he isn’t satisfied with one sign he figures that God made a mistake so he asks for a second sign, just to make sure.

This got me to wondering about how God must feel about our asking for signs to confirm His leading. It seems that we never need a sign from God when it is something we want to do. But if we don’t want to do something we demand for a sign from heaven.

I heard a Christian comedian who tells a story about getting on an empty bus and telling God that if God wants him to witness then to send a person to the back of the bus and he would testify to his faith in Christ. God answered his prayer and soon a person entered the bus and moved to the back and sat down across form the comedian. This person asked him “Do you know anything about Jesus?” The comedian quickly prayed and asked for a second sign. “God is you really want me to witness to this person, than change the bus driver into an armadillo!”

I wonder how many of us can relate to that story. We know what to do, because it is a clear command in the Scripture but we don’t want to obey so we wait for a sign. When God gives us a sign we wave it off like a pitcher on the mound and ask for a better sign from the catcher.

I wonder if God get frustrated at my waving off His signs. After all… 

17  Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins.
James 4:17 (NIV)

I was just wondering,

Pastor Val