Tag Archives: Legalism

Building 429 Meets My Judgmentalism, Then Gets an Apology

The following post was first published in 2011, yet it is definitely worth revisiting. If you have not read this post, what it depicts is a perfect example of why I call myself a “recovering legalist.” Even now I cringe when I recall my judgmental, legalistic actions 6 years ago. But God’s grace doesn’t force immediate change; we grow in grace.

Some take longer than others.


The Story

For the last several weeks we have been going out to get some food after evening services. If you don’t know what I am talking about, let me explain:

Getting Food = going to a restaurant that sells stuff you could make at home for a lot less money, but tastes better and is more fun when you pay for it in the company of others.

Evening Services = gathering of believers at a local church that still takes place on Sunday nights, while most people stay home, in order to give the pastor something to do.

FoodFriday #17: Cracker Barrel - Old Country Store

Last night, after a great time of worship and hearing from God’s Word, my wife, our girls, our youth director, and I went to Cracker Barrel. When we pulled in, I noticed a really sweet Prevost tour bus sitting in the lot. I said to my wife, Valerie, “Now that has got to be a group, or a band, or something, because it takes somebody serious to keep one of those things on the road.

We gently maneuver our tired, aged frames (we’re getting old in our 40’s) out of the car and walk toward the entrance. As we walk across the front of Cracker Barrel, where all the rocking chairs are, my wife and I notice some interesting young men dressed in black. One of them had a black hat and a hairstyle that would make more than a few grannies say, “What died on your head, sonny?”

Myself? Well I am in a suit and tie. My wife? She is wearing a dress. WE are the “Reverend and Mrs. Baker,” you know. WE know how to dress on Sunday, unlike these guys. So, my wife walks past them first and gives them a forced, but gentle smile. Next, I walk by, thinking to myself, “These are definitely musicians…yep…the hair gives it away…they’re the Prevost riders.” I nod and smile.

Once inside the Cracker Barrel, my conscience started to bother me. Something wasn’t right. I have been around long enough to recognize when the Holy Spirit says, “Hey, I bear witness that those weird-looking guys out there are part of the Family.” That is when I come up with a brilliant, self-covering plan – send Katie, our 15 year old, out to see who they are.

I only had an old iPhone. And it was dark.

Katie,” I say, “go out there and ask those guys on the porch who they are or what band they’re with.”  Fortunately, and I knew this, there were others outside beside the “men in black,” so don’t think I sent my little girl out to talk to strangers, alone. She talked to strangers with other strangers there to help.

A few minutes later, Katie comes back in with the biggest smile on her face, beaming with a glow that could blind a man in sunglasses, saying, “They are Building 429!!

Now, here’s the point of all this. Here I am, someone who preaches against unrighteously judging others, especially Christians who look different (what’s normal?). What do I do? I walk right by a group of guys and assume, wrongfully, that evidently, just because they were not in suits on a Sunday night, they were a group of heathen beatniks heading to/from Nashville.  I messed up.

An Official Apology

Sorry, guys, for doing the very thing I hate seeing other people do. This is why I call myself a “recovering legalist.” Sometimes I fail. Last night I failed in a bad way. Up until last night, I had never even seen you before to recognize you in person. All I know is that the song you recorded, “Always,” is one of my favorites…I’ve shed more than a few tears while listening to it.

Please forgive my wife and I for acting like a couple of snobby, self-righteous, judgmental legalists. If I’m fortunate, maybe God will someday give this preacher some hair like yours.

May God bless you and your ministry. He WILL be with you always.

 


UPDATE: Shortly after this post was first published, Building 429 posted a link to it on their Facebook page. A little later we exchanged a few emails in which they graciously accepted my apology. I offered to buy them dinner the next time they came through town, but Jason Roy (lead singer) said that wouldn’t be necessary – then he offered me free tickets the next time they came to town! Cool, huh? But I never took him up on it – we just bought them, anyway.

Here is a more recent video from Building 429, “Unashamed.”

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Filed under Do not judge, General Observations, legalism

It’s All About Being “Real”

The Following was written six years ago in May, 2011. Sort of a “squeeze” from the past 😉


Have you ever been completely spent? Worn out? Empty? I have. As a matter of fact, I woke up this morning feeling like a squeezed out tube of toothpaste.

Yesterday was a great day. I was blessed to be able to preach in the morning, the afternoon, and the evening. The only problem is that when you go all day, preaching your heart out, by the end of the day you’re exhausted. When I got up to drive the school bus, I looked at that tube of toothpaste and said, “That’s me.”

Over the next couple of hours a thought came to me: how can you tell when a tube of toothpaste is empty? Usually, it is flat and rolled up. The compacted tube shows evidence that all of its contents have been used – there’s nothing left. Then what about the hard, stand-up kind?

These new containers for toothpaste are deceiving. Unlike the old-fashioned tubes, they do not compact and show any visible signs of being empty. They always look full. Then it hit me – what hypocrites! Those new-fangled containers are just putting on a show and never give any hint of being used up. In other words, they’re not “real.”

I want to be “real.”

This is not a lesson on hypocrisy. This is not a lesson on being a whitewashed tomb full of dead men’s bones. This is about being “real.”

Too often, especially in ministry, we are forced to put on a façade, thereby making ourselves appear to be something we’re not. It’s not meant to be hypocritical. It is meant to spare others from the truth of our own inadequacies – our own emptiness. Sadly, because we don’t want to be a burden or a disappointment, we endure the emptiness…the loneliness…the fatigue. Being “real” is risky.

There are limits to how much dirty laundry a pastor can air in public without losing his ministry. There are limits to how vulnerable he can be around others. But may it never be said that we have to pretend to be something we are not. We are human. We have weaknesses. We have limitations. We can feel “used up.”

Fortunately, unlike a tube of toothpaste, we can be refilled. And for that matter, even a seemingly squeezed out tube always has just a little more to give. God gives us what we need, when we need it.  The important thing to remember is that we shouldn’t try to act full, when we are empty. When we do that, that is when we act in our own strength. Let us then admit our weakness and emptiness, and in turn our heavenly Father will refill us with what will bring Him glory. Who knows, maybe it is our emptiness He wants to use most.

“And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.” – 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 KJV

Just keep it REAL.

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Let’s Talk about Depression, Part 3

A Depression Case Study

When September 11, 2001, came around, everybody forgot about anything else that had been in the news. But what took place in Houston three months earlier shocked the world. Frankly, it was easier to comprehend the crazed fanaticism of some Islamic terrorists, with all of their hatred for America, than what a young mother did.

On June 20, 2001, Andrea Yates drowned her 5 children (4 boys, 1 girl) one-by one in 9 inches of water in her bathtub. She had sat them all down for breakfast, then one by one took them to the bathroom to drown them. 7-year-old Noah, the oldest, went to see where everyone had gone, then saw his little sister, only 6 months old, floating in the bathtub. His mother then chased him, finally drowning him face-down beside the floating body of the infant.

Ultimately, after initially being charged with murder and looking at the death penalty, Andrea Yates was eventually cleared of the murder charges and on July 26, 2006, was declared not guilty by reason of insanity. Why was this verdict handed down? Because it became very clear that Andrea Yates had been experiencing depression for a long time (since age 17), but by her fourth child was suffering from full-blown postpartum psychosis (worse than depression, and far more dangerous is left untreated).

The Yates did not attend church, but held Bible studies at home. Their spiritual leader was an itinerate preacher, Michael Woroniecki, who regularly sent out newsletters, personal letters, and video tapes. After doing a lot of research into the case, it became very obvious to me that Andrea and Rusty (her husband) Yates lived a very secluded, paranoid, legalistic, religious life. And I believe this un-biblical, legalistic theology that the Yates practiced had a lot to do with a mother did to her own children.

You see, as a former follower of Michael Woroniecki, David De Le Isla, said, “In her thinking she was doomed to hell, her kids were going to hell, and that the only way she could save them was by killing them.” From the things that Andrea Yates had been hearing, both from her husband and Woroniecki, depression was a sin, therefore her depression and any connected medication, were nothing more than evils which needed to be repented of. Andrea Yates, in her pitiful state of untreated psychosis; destitute of a caring group of friends and family – particularly a church family; indoctrinated with a false gospel bereft of grace; literally acted out of love for her children’s eternal souls and drowned them.

And some people wonder why I hate legalism.

And other people wonder why I worry for people who call themselves Christian, yet “forsake the assembling of themselves together” and shun the value of motivating each other to acts of love and good works (Hebrews 10:24-25).

Medicine and the Bible

Should a Christian take medication? Should a follower of Jesus Christ, one whose faith is in Him for all things, resort to taking medication for depression? If it’s needed, then yes!

God has ordained physical means to health. Sometimes there are physical, biological issues in play, and simply depending upon God to take care of them may cross the line of presumption. When the Lord has designed us in such a way that water quenches the thirsty throat (Mark 9:31), or wine calms the stomach (1 Tim. 5:23), or a balm heals the wound (Jer. 8:22), or oil heals the sick (Ezek. 16:9), is it out of the question to then accept that a modern-day “apothecary” could create/develop a medicine to aid in the mental functions affected by biological/physical/natural deficiencies?

We must depend on God for all things, but we must give thanks to God for all things. We can thankfully accept, using discernment and wisdom, those things, like medication, which may help with depression, should the cause be physically related. However, great caution must be taken to determine beforehand whether or not the depression from which one suffers is the result of something biological or spiritual.

Taking medication, even for depression, is no more a sin than taking an aspirin, applying an antibiotic,  or using a bandage.

Depression Is NOT a SIN – Lack of Faith Is.

Depression and a Lack of Faith are not the same, even though a lack of faith might contribute to depression. In the case of Andrea Yates, depression was already at work, but it was exacerbated by faulty theology, a lack of support, and a complete lack of grace.

Romans 14:23 states that whatever “is not of faith is sin.” There are plenty of reasons why people can become depressed, but that doesn’t mean they are committing any kind of sin. As a matter of fact, I can’t help but think of Job in the Old Testament as a great example of this fact. Job had multiple reasons to feel depressed, yet he never lost faith. Even in his pain he cried out, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him…” (Job 13:15).

But interestingly enough, the word “depression” is not in the Bible (unless it’s in a new translation). However, some biblical words that describe the same thing are: words such as downcast, brokenhearted, troubled, miserable, despairing, mourning are all linked to what we would understand in the modern context to be circumstantial depression, at least. Base on what we can read of the lives of not only Job, but several others, depression was not uncommon, even among the most faithful.

Depressed People in the Bible

Sometimes we may wonder how God could use someone who battles with depression. Sometimes we may even wonder how someone who is actually being used by the Lord can get depressed.

For further study, why not consider the following people in the Bible? Consider how the Word of God describes their emotions in each situation, and then try to determine if the feelings being expressed were sinful, acceptable,  or a reasonable reaction to the situation.

  1. David – 2 Samuel 12:15-23 (his newborn); 18:33 (Absalom)
  2. Elijah – 1 Kings 19:4
  3. Job – Physical pain, personal loss, even persecution from friends. See Job 3:11; 3:26; 10:1; and 30:15-17.
  4. Jonah – see 4:3 and 9
  5. Jeremiah – “The weeping Prophet” See 20:14-18

“The LORD [is] near to those who have a broken heart, And saves such as have a contrite spirit.” – Psalm 34:18 NKJV

“He heals the brokenhearted And binds up their wounds.” – Psalm 147:3 NKJV

“He heard my cry…brought me out of the horrible pit…” – Psalm 40:1-3

Even Jesus!

I don’t know about you, but when it comes to depression, I don’t have to feel alone, even if no one else understands what I am going through. When all else fails, I can still hold on to the truth that Jesus Christ knows exactly what it feels like to be me! He knows exactly what it feels like to be YOU!

First off, Isaiah 53:3 spoke of the coming Messiah as “a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief.”  Mark 14:34-35 speaks of Jesus as “exceedingly sorrowful.” So, even though the Son of Righteousness was God in flesh, Emmanuel, He still understood what if felt like to have “the blues.”

But secondly, and even more importantly (in my opinion), Jesus understands what it feels like when our depression IS sin, or at the very least a result of sin. How is this possible?

“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” – 2 Corinthians 5:21 ESV

“Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.” – Isaiah 53:4-5 ESV

“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.” – 1 Peter 2:24 ESV

It never fails to amaze me how so many of our questions can lead us straight back to the Cross.

A Word from C. H. Spurgeon

Around 3,000 years ago King David wrote, “Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again–my Savior and my God!” –  Psalm 42:11 NLT

A more recent (1834-1892) author and preacher, the “Prince of Preachers,” the great Charles Hadden Spurgeon, wrote something very similar, and I personally find it very encouraging. Few modern pastors or Christian authors – even secular ones – could hope to reach the pinnacle of success that C. H. Spurgeon reached; yet, even though he fought bitterly with unexplained fits of debilitating depression, he said the following:

“I am the subject of depression so fearful that I hope none of you ever get to such extremes of wretchedness as I go to.  But I always get back again by this–I know that I trust Christ.  I have no reliance but in Him, and if He falls, I shall fall with Him.  But if He does not, I shall not.  Because He lives, I shall live also, and I spring to my legs again and fight with my depressions of spirit and get the victory through it.  And so may you do, and so you must, for there is no other way of escaping from it.” (12.298)

I hope this third post on depression was helpful in some way. You are not alone, you don’t have to go through it alone, and there is Hope.

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“You Might Be a Legalist If…”

The following list is not original on my part, I am unsure of who came up with it. But even though I didn’t write it, I want you to read it.

All that’s needed is Jeff Foxworthy to add his voice and declare, “You might be a legalist if…”

1) God’s love for me depends on what I do.

2) Meeting the expectations of others, especially those in my congregation or in positions of authority, are paramount.

3) Moral and ethical questions are usually black and white and only made into fuzzy shades of gray by hand-wringing, bleeding-heart types.

4) I try hard to obey God and it irritates me that others think they can get away with avoiding the same level of dedication.

5) I fall short because I don’t have enough faith, or because I haven’t prayed enough, or because I just need to be a better person.

6) God is predisposed to be angry with me because I am a sinner. My main goal in life is to try to gain God’s favor by doing things that will impress him.

7) My sense of spiritual well-being is linked to a Christian leader or membership in my church rather than a personal relationship with God.

8) I tell my children not to do something in church or around other Christian families that I allow in my home.

9) I believe my church is God’s true church and that most other Christians may be sincere, but are sincerely wrong.

10) The exterior choices a person makes in what they wear, hairstyle, piercings, tattoos, etc. is a clear indication of that person’s character.

11) I sometimes worry that people might take advantage of grace if it’s preached too much —people might think they can do anything they want.

12) After being around Christians for a while I feel drained —weary of putting up a false front.

13) When I happen to miss a service or activity of my church I feel guilty.

14) I will likely get into heaven, even though I’m far from perfect, because I have tried to be a basically good person and God will take that into account.

So, are you a legalist? I used to be, but I still struggle. That is the reason for this blog. That is why I call myself a “recovering” legalist.

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13 Things I DON’T Want To Do In 2017

From a Sermon

Four years ago I preached a sermon to close out the year of 2012. The following 13 points were what I decided I did NOT want to do in 2013. The same could be said for 2017.

Unfortunately, numbers 10, 11, & 12 are the only ones I’ve not done; the rest were failures. Just goes to show you why a preacher needs to preach to himself more often.

I Don’t Want To…

1. Believe another politician. Why did I ever? I won’t do it this year, that’s for sure. Even if he/she is telling the truth, how would I know? Let God be true, and every man a liar, especially those running for office (Romans 3:4).

2. Eat more in one sitting than the average family in Africa eats in a week. (Prov. 23:21; 21:17)

3. Lie, cheat, or steal, even when it’s socially acceptable. This is especially important during tax season, but there are many times we lie to each other, deprive each other, and take what isn’t ours. Have you ever told someone you were “fine” when you actually weren’t? You lied. Used two coupons instead of one, just because the cashier didn’t notice? You stole.

4. Be angry.  Anger rarely solves anything. Angry people are miserable and always finding fault. Angry people turn a leisurely drive into a demolition derby. “Be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry: for anger resteth in the bosom of fools” (Ecclesiastes 7:9).

5. Whine or complain. What do I have to complain about? Really?

6. Tell people how stupid they are. I don’t understand why some people act the way they do, but I need to be a little more understanding of idiots, morons, ignoramuses, and bone-headed nincompoops. They must answer to God, not me, for their actions (Rom 14).

7. Add another x to my large. I can’t afford any more clothing. Even now I must wear Hawaiian shirts year-round because nothing will stay tucked in. I mean, seriously! The last thing I need is to expand the “temple.” (1 Corinthians 6:19)

8. Lose another favorite sock. I can’t figure out how it happens, but something has to be done.

9. Waste time.  Today I listened to my two girls play with a new ukulele. They laughed and sang.  Soon they will be grown, and there will be no more music, games, or bedtime stories. “Man is like to vanity: his days are as a shadow that passeth away” (Psalm 144:4).

10. Get a divorce.  Many do it because the grass looks greener on the other side of the fence. They don’t realize the unnatural stuff has a nasty aftertaste. I want to stay with the woman God gave me. Who could be better than a gift from God?  “Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth” (Proverbs 5:18).

11. Give one more dollar to a guy on the street….without offering the gospel as a condition. If he wants a dollar, then fine. I’ll give him $5 if he lets me tell him about Jesus.

12. Be on a reality TV show. So many people say, “Anthony, your family would make a great reality show.” I say, “Yes, I know.” However, it ain’t gonna happen. The world isn’t ready for it.

13. Forget to pray. I don’t pray enough. More is better. What I need is to follow David’s example and pray morning, noon, and evening (Psalm 55:17). I shudder to think how much I’ve given up by forgetting to spend time with God.

James 4:17  “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.”

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Filed under Christian Living, Defending Traditional Marriage, Divorce, Do not judge, Future, God, Life Lessons, Preaching, Relationships and Family, scary new year, the future, Uncategorized

Perfection Not Required

Jesus Said…

“Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.”

“And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.” – Luke 18:11, 13

The Perfect Candidate

Imagine that instead of the temple, a Pharisee and a publican walked into a pastoral search committee meeting.  They walk in, introduce themselves, and compare resumes.

pharisee and publicanWhich one do you think would be offered the position? I believe it would be the one who meets the average preconception of what every Christian fit for service should be. I believe the Pharisee, the one with the perfect resume and appearance, would be the first considered.

But God doesn’t use perfect people; He uses REAL people. Unfortunately, there are many men and women in the church who feel inferior and useless because of their sinful and broken pasts. They are the people who sit on the pews, week after week, doing all they can to be faithful in life, but are forbidden to hold positions in the church.  They are much like the Publican, men and women who know they have failed in the past, but want to be forgiven and start new.  

Genesis of Dysfunction

A while back I read through the book of Genesis in a couple of sittings.  Reading a book of the Bible that way, especially in a different translation, can help you see the story from a new perspective.  This time I was just astounded at how messed up these people really were!  There was so much “stuff” going on that if it were today, it would make an episode of Jerry Springer look tame!

Consider, if nothing else, the sad story of Jacob, Leah, and Rachel. This was a seriously messed up family with real marital problems.  At one point, Leah and Rachel get into a jealous argument over a son’s mandrakes.  Just imagine you were a marriage counselor and listened in to the following story…

Reuben went out during the wheat harvest and found some mandrakes in the field.  When he brought them to his mother, Leah, Rachel asked, “Please give me some of your son’s mandrakes.”  But Leah replied to her, “Isn’t it enough that you have taken my husband?  Now you also want my son’s mandrakes?

Well,” Rachel said, “you can sleep with him tonight in exchange for your son’s mandrakes.”  When Jacob came in from the field that evening, Leah went out to meet him and said, “You must come with me, for I have hired you with my son’s mandrakes.”  So Jacob slept with her that night. – Geneses 30:14:16 HCSB

Check this out…

  • Twice Abraham told other people that his wife, Sarah, was his sister so that he would not be harmed.
  • Joseph’s brothers hated him and sold him to traveling salesmen.
  • Jacob and Esau were seriously at odds.
  • Leah, poor thing, kept trying to have children so that her husband, Jacob would love her.

And there’s more!

  • Jacob’s father-in-law, Laban, got him drunk on his wedding night and gave him the wrong wife – on purpose.
  • The son’s of Jacob (founders of ten of the tribes of Israel) lied to a bunch of men about making a covenant, then proceeded to slaughter all of them after they had convinced them to be circumcised.

It just goes on and on.  Messed up, I am telling you! MESSED UP!

Nevertheless,

God told Abraham in Genesis 12:2-3: “And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.”  How is this even possible?  

If God can use Abraham and his family – with all their problems – to bless the nations, then He can use ANYBODY!


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Filed under Abortion, abuse, Christian Living, Do not judge, Faith, General Observations, legalism, Relationships and Family, Struggles and Trials, World View

“I Just Wanna Be a Sheep”

The following post was written by a fellow blogger from New Zealand, Johanna. Unfortunately, Johanna was not in a place where she could access my blog to add her post, so she emailed me the text. Johanna blogs at Isaiah 41v10. Be sure to pay her a visit…she may have some more shepherding advice on hand 😉


‘I just wanna be a sheep’

I come from a country that is famous for its sheep. New Zealand used to have more than 70 million sheep.  Now the number is about 29 million, according to teara.govt.nz.  August is the best time of year to see the sheep, as it is late winter, when the ewes are lambing. It is delightful to watch the lambs gambolling in the fields playfully, so different from their sedate mothers.

Thinking about sheep gets me pondering all the Biblical references to sheep. The way we farm sheep here in NZ is quite different from 1st Century Palestine or how David cared for his father’s sheep before he became king of Ancient Israel. These differences can teach us something about our relationship with God.

Shepherds in the Bible

It’s clear from reading the Bible texts that the good shepherds in those days (like David) had a small number of valued sheep, each one of which was known by the shepherd, and who knew the shepherd and followed him.

“What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, “Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost. “ (Luke 15:4-6 ESV)

Jesus also talks about the shepherd’s relationship to his sheep in John 10:3-4, where he says, “The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. “

Contrast this with modern farming, where a farmer will often have hundreds, if not thousands of sheep. They live in fields fenced by barbed wire. They are seen as stupid animals, that the shepherd herds by using dogs to make them obey his will. You do not see a shepherd leading his sheep, instead driving them in front of him. They have an eartag with a number to identify them to the sheep farmer.

To me this speaks of two different ways of relating to God.

What kind of sheep are you?

One kind is motivated by fear, and kept safe by barbed wire. These fences are like the extra rules that we make for ourselves or that others make for us, to keep us safe and away from sin. But they also keep us from following the Shepherd to green pastures. Instead we are boxed in where the grass has been overgrazed, living on stale hay.

Some sheep break out, thinking that the grass looks greener elsewhere, and end up on a busy road or in a ditch. This is like those who break away from legalism to do their own thing, or those who fear the Shepherd and his voice, and shipwreck their lives as a result. Both are far from the Shepherd.

The Good Shepherd’s sheep are motivated by love for their Shepherd. They trust him to keep them safe and fed, and they follow him wherever he leads. He leads them to green pastures and restores their souls. He protects them in the darkest valleys and lays down his life for them. Jesus said,  “If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever — the Spirit of truth.”

Jesus is not a factory farmer. He wants us to know his voice and follow him out of love. He doesn’t want us to be penned in by traditions or extra rules, but instead to walk with him to green pastures and fresh water.

Will you follow him?

sheep-617128

That’s Anthony on the far left. He always has to get his nose in the picture.

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