Author: debio7

A Revolution of Empathy

I woke up this morning thinking about Barabbas, an insurrectionist, revolutionary, and murderer during Jesus’ day.

“Insurrection – a violent uprising against authority or government. An act or instance of revolting against civil authority or established government.”

Webster

He sought to bring political revolution to Jerusalem which was under Roman rule and was an active participant in the political turmoil, and religious unrest of Jesus’ time. He was arrested, found guilty of murder and insurrection and was awaiting his due punishment – death.

The crowds gathered before Pilate’s judgment bench and asked for Barabbas to be released in exchange for Jesus. After thunderous exchanges, Barabbas was set free and Jesus was condemned to death.

Barabbas and Jesus…

One man wanted a political revolution, the other a revolution of love.

I believe one can work towards producing the other. I believe the latter will birth the former.

Do you know what lies at the heart of a man or woman’s deepest longings? Guess… what would you say? To be loved? To be accepted? To be wanted? Yes, those are all huge.

But one of our deepest longings is to feel heard. We each need to feel understood, to have our feelings noticed, our hurts legitimized. We find a way to handle it if people don’t agree with our feelings, but we still want them validated.

Don’t you find yourself more willing and ready to do something for someone who gave you that validation, acknowledged your hurt; the one who actually gave their ear and heart to you and your expressions?

” Empathy – the action of understanding, being aware of, sensitive to. The ability to understand and share the feelings of another.”

Webster

When you empathize with someone, you have taken action. You have given your attention, time, focus, effort and heart to listen to their feelings and do your best to understand them. Whether or not you fully understand is less important than the point that you consistently make the effort to listen. For in time, you will see a clearer picture and begin to feel what they have felt. We learn to empathize and can grow in empathy.

As a matter of fact, smart people have established a category of people called HEP’s – Highly Empathic People; and have outlined 6 habits that those HEP’s have. They :

  • have a curiosity about strangers
  • challenge prejudices & discover common ground instead
  • try another person’s life
  • listen hard and open up
  • inspire action and change
  • develop an ambitious imagination

Now, more than ever, in these days of revolution, I believe we are in need of a Revolution of Empathy. A Revolution of love in action that hears and feels the hurt, feelings, and deep seated emotions. A revolution that seeks to listen, feel, and cry with others. A revolution that will indeed change society, politicians, and government.

A revolution of people committed to strangers, who will not just lay aside personal prejudices, but change them, all while seeking to hear broken hearts and try on what it’s like to be that person. Revolutionaries who will listen hard and be open in return. Revolutionaries who will inspire others to join in this Revolution of Empathy and Love and expect big and lasting changes in our world.

We are in need of the Revolution of love that Jesus demonstrated with Barabbas.

Cheers to you.

Justice

In case you’ve missed it, “JUSTICE” is the cry of the land right now. Although there seem to be many messages intertwined in the fervor, the prevailing, and justifiable issue is justice. Although some of the methods, actions, and outcries are riotous rage, still, the underlying issue is justice.

The Founding Fathers used the phrase, “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal…”

And our American pledge to the flag says, “… with liberty and justice for all.”

But we all know, justice has not been for all, and that is the issue at hand. So, a common question is asked by many and is found also in Job 8:3 “… does God pervert justice?

The answer is a resounding “NO!”. God has always placed a high priority on justice, defending the oppressed, standing with the poor, the abused, the needy, the underdog, the downcast, the forsaken, the silenced. God told his people over and over to do justice. Here are a few times:

  • Do justice to the afflicted Psalm 82:3
  • Justice is more acceptable (from believers) than sacrifice Proverbs 21:3
  • Is there no one to call for justice? Isaiah 59:4
  • Do what is lawful and right (just, justice) Ezekiel 18; & 33
  • I love justice Isaiah 61:8
  • He has show man what is good and required – to do justice Micah 6:8
  • Learn to do right and seek justice Isaiah 1:17
  • If you see your brother in need and close your heart to his cries, how does God’s love dwell in you? 1 John 3:17-18

As a nation, it is time for there to be healing, forgiveness, repentance, unity and rebuilding of healthy relations between all races. But that only comes with humility, admission, confession and truthfulness.

It is time to look deep with within our hearts and admit what is there, take actions as appropriate and heal the divide. It starts individually. It must begin in each of us.

I trust that each of us are looking within, but I challenge you to not just look – TAKE ACTION. Looking is not enough, change is needed, action is called for and healing will come.

In the video below, I give a list of 4 Actions for Justice, in case you need some ideas.

What is important today, is that we all take some kind of action. There are so many possibilities! It is up to you and where you are as an individual.

But it is up to us to change the world. To do justice. It is up to us to take the baton and run with the message of “AND JUSTICE FOR ALL.” Because God does not pervert justice, it is who He is and what He loves.

It is not good to be partial of deprive justice. Proverbs 18:5

Cheers to you.

Lawlessness

I have an urgent word for us regarding the lawlessness at work in our nation. Please take 4 minutes to watch this video I made, (if you haven’t already watched it on YouTube or IGTV) and finish up here with a few thoughts.

I believe this weekend, across the nation and globe, we are facing a pivotal point in power, strategy, and responsibility.

As we look at circumstances, we see: masks covering mouths required, separation from others required, stay at home orders, innocent lives taken, cries ignored, violence rising, hatred brewing, rebellion demonstrated and lawlessness expanding.

Each of those things listed above are the exact opposite of the will of God for Earth and the people there!

That is why I am urging you to pray. Use your mind, heart and mouth to pray THE TRUTH. Declare the opposite of those evil characteristics. Speak the Word of the Lord. Find verses to war with, and if you can’t, then open up to Pslam 119 and begin speaking and praying these verses about the Word and law of the Lord.

It is on us, believers in Jesus, to raise up a standard, and the standard is always the Word of the Lord.

I challenge you to join with Jews and believers around the world, to reclaim the power of The Torah, the Law, the Word and to speak it out in prayer and intercession against the lawlessness at work in our nation.

This is the year of the mouth! (5280, 2020) It’s time to speak out His declarations!

Thank you for listening and reading my heart, please share your reactions… leave me a comment.

Let’s turn the world RIGHT SIDE UP through the power of the Word and our declaring it in prayer.

Now is the time.

Pentecost Sunday – the Power of the Holy Spirit

Pentecost was one of the major festivals celebrated by the Israelites in the days of the Old Testament. In it, 50 days after the Passover, they celebrated the harvest. It was referred to as The Festival of Weeks, celebrated four weeks and 1 day, after the feast of Passover.

Stay with me here. This is the secret to your power, as a thriving individual, seeking to please the Lord.

For years the Passover was celebrated and 50 days later Pentecost or Shavout was celebrated.

This Sunday then, 50 days after Passover is that Pentecost Sunday.

So what?

Don’t miss or reject this powerful truth of the word.

Jesus, before He was taken into heaven, told the disciples to go and wait in Jerusalem, until they received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. Acts 1:5,8 So, that’s what they did. They went to Jerusalem, 120 of them, prayed and waited for this “baptism of the Holy Spirit.”. Not knowing what to expect, but expecting Jesus to fulfill His promise to them.

In Acts 2:1-4, it tells us the miraculous result,

” When the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like a violent wind came and filled the whole house they were in. They saw tongues of fire that sat upon each one. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues.”

The Apostle Luke, Acts 2

When the Holy Spirit was poured out in Acts 2, it was the fulfillment of the centuries long Pentecost celebrations. He was demonstrating the true harvest celebration. Not just celebrating an agricultural harvest, but a harvest of people. For in Acts 2, we see that there were 3,000 people who were added to the church following that miraculous display. The disciples were empowered with fire and boldness, and 3,000 people were affected that morning and “added to the church.” Acts 2:41

On that Pentecost, the Holy Spirit was poured out on those 120, and they became his witnesses, and many were influenced and added to the Kingdom that very day.

That day empowered the disciples and was the beginning of the Christian church. They were transformed and from that day forward they entered their world charged with the power of the Holy Spirit and performing miracles. Read the book of Acts and see their powerful and miraculous witnesses.

Pentecost changed their world and revealed the heart of the Father – to have many added to His family, from every tribe and tongue.

The experience of that Pentecost lasted for years and rocked the known world.

And yet, 25 or so years after it, when Paul was in Ephesus preaching, he asked the Ephesians if they had received the Holy Spirit. Acts 19:2 Their response, “No, we’ve not even heard of the Holy Spirit.” Well, Paul settled that, he asked a few more questions and laid his hands on them and “they received the Holy Spirit.” Acts 19:4-6

Here we are, at least 1,957 years after the book of Acts was written. Have you heard of the Holy Spirit? Are you aware of it’s power in your life? Do you know the Feast of Pentecost is about bringing in the Harvest?

The Holy Spirit is the third person of the Trinity. Jesus promised Him to you as a helper, comforter, intercessor, one who would be by your side through everything that you face. He is your Comforter, leader and discerner of what is truth. John 14. Jesus told His disciples He was leaving, but He would give them/us another Comforter. The Holy Spirit was what He was talking about.

The Holy Spirit is always with you, will never leave you and will always equip you for what you face. He comes into you at rebirth and fills you at request. You can, by choice be Spirit filled, be Spirit led, guided, and granted spiritual understanding.

The Holy Spirit filled the disciples with boldness. Acts 3:6; Acts 4:8,31

With that boldness, they “turned the world upside-down.” Acts 17:6

Jesus promised that “greater works than I do, you shall do”. John 14:12

So what is it that’s stopping today’s believers from turning the world upside down, from moving in boldness and bringing in the harvest of people to the Kingdom?

Is it that they haven’t even heard of the Holy Spirit? Is it that they aren’t filled with the Holy Spirit? Is it that Pentecost hasn’t been born in them? Do they not care for the harvest?

Now is the season of harvest. Now is the season of hungry people being added to the Kingdom. Now is the season for believers to move beyond “the baptism of John and repentance” and move into the fullness of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Acts 19:4; Matthew 3:6

It is time for believers to rise up, and begin to move in the power of the Holy Spirit. To move in signs and wonders, to move in miracles. To offer prayers of faith in needy situations. To rise up in the Holy Spirit and power and see this world turned upside down.

Why don’t we?

Pentecost is upon us, quite literally. Who will embrace it?

Cheers to you.

The power of convictions

What drives the son of a sharecropper, 7th child of 12, and 5th grade drop out to become the 19 year old, most decorated WW2 combat soldier, having earned every military combat award in his 3 years in the Army?

What empowers a black woman in the segregated South of 1955 to refuse to follow the bus drivers instructions, telling her to stand up and change her seat for that white man to sit? (When she was already sitting in her “prescribed area of the bus”)

What sustains a man for 27 years in prison because of his anti-apartheid protests but then thrusts him to become the President of that very nation?

What motivates a Chinese writer and literary critic to speak out against China’s single-party Communist rule?

How does a simple woman of 1860’s speak up and protest for the right of women to vote – thus making way for the 19th Amendment?

How does a President, in the deepest racial divide in American history, proclaim that “all persons held as slaves, are, and henceforward shall be free.”?

Time does not permit, but I would love to tell you of others, who in the face of the currents against them, stood out, spoke up, and took a stand. Gandhi, Dr. M.L.King, Mother Teresa, Hudson Taylor, Corrie ten Boom, L.L.Legters, Valentinia Tereshkova, Eleanor, Queen of France, and Martin Luther to name a few.

The answer to how. They all had CONVICTION!

Convictions that were driving them. Convictions that they would not compromise. Convictions that were bigger than their feelings, circumstances and maybe even courage. Their personal convictions guided their lives, choices, decisions, behaviors and determined their response to others actions.

They were convictions driven. Not feelings or emotions driven.

Convictions are drivers. Convictions not acted upon and practiced are merely beliefs.

Convictions are an unstoppable force. Convictions hold our vision in place even without evidence. When convictions are preeminent, people’s opinions don’t matter.

Convictions = 1. “a formal declaration that someone is guilty of a criminal offense.” 2. “firmly held belief or opinion”

Personal convictions = ” set of beliefs that determine what you believe is right and wrong.”

Convictions have no “maybe” or grey area.

In the book, “God is Not Nice”, he states, “the difference between belief and conviction is degree.” Again he says, “Only people with convictions resist.

I believe we are living in days of living out our convictions. It is time to stand up, speak out and not compromise our convictions. No longer sitting idly back in the “silence of dead convictions.” (God is not Nice)

I remember days when my convictions drove me to deliberate and overt public action. I marched in protest, carried signs, gathered with thousands in the nation’s mall, made phone calls, wrote letters, participated in marches, parades and conferences. Rallied to the standard, lifted my voice, stood my ground, and did not back down.

It takes conviction to:

  • don a mask and scrubs day after day to fight sickness
  • sacrifice family time to serve the communities needs
  • stand in front of teenagers 5 days a week and try to teach them
  • submit to grueling Special Ops training
  • enlist in the military and stand for freedom
  • plan a 211 mile hike
  • start a business
  • loose weight
  • not quit
  • enlist others in a cause
  • share your opinion when you’ve been quiet for so long
  • give in a way you haven’t done so before
  • rally for a cause
  • take action because you can’t stay quiet any longer
  • learn a skill because it is needed
  • take a stand, even if you’re standing alone
  • say yes, when everyone else is saying no
  • say no, when everyone else is saying yes

Where are your convictions? Now is the time to let them carry you and me to a new place of action. I want to be found guilty of having and exercising my convictions.

We can’t point any fingers at the younger generations if we are not standing up for our convictions, can we?

I believe the tide is changing, and those with convictions, are rising up and speaking out. Who knows what change can be brought to our broken world when this occurs?

May the Lord help us all to live by the power of our convictions.

Cheers to you.

A Clear Conscience

” I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man.”

Acts 24:16 NIV – The Apostle Paul

Striving to maintain a clear conscience is honorable, right, healthy and important. But is intentional, deliberate and hard work. Maintaining a clear conscience keeps us connected to others and helps us to override selfishness.

My hunch is that during this season, there have been ample opportunities for selfishness, personal conflicts, and ruffled feathers in our family or at work relationships. So let’s look into our conscience and put the focus on it and it’s partner – guilt.

Carrying around guilt, the weight of one’s own conscience, literally weighs us down. It actually makes us feel heavier. Science has done studies showing that to be true..

Because guilt is meant to play a role in regulating moral behavior it sends signals throughout the body, and the body responds with perception changes, insomnia, loss of appetite, stress, headaches, backaches and a general sense of feeling dreary. Or it responds with the strong motivation to apologize, correct or make up for the wrong. Perhaps, it even does all of those things in your life.

Another writer, describes guilt, or not having a clear conscience this way, “When I kept it all inside, my dishonesty devastated my inner life, causing my life to be filled with frustration, irrepressible anguish, and misery. The pain never let up, for your conviction was heavy on my heart. My strength was sapped, my inner life dried up like a spiritual drought within my soul.” Psalm 32:3-4, TPT King David

The power of guilt is terrifying. The worry of guilt is debilitating. Being consumed with what I did or didn’t do, what I thought or didn’t think, how I harmed another individual, what I said or should have said, all these cause pain and anguish inside of us. “It is overwhelming and a burden too heavy to bear” King David cried in Psalm 38:4

Here, is where our conscience kicks in. Therefore, what is conscience?

Oswald Chambers describes conscience this way, “The ability within me that attaches to the highest standard I know and reminds me of what that standard demands that I do.”

That explains to me why two people can face the exact same moral dilemma and come away with two totally different answers for what is “right’ in that situation. Their “highest standard” is different. Both could even engage in that moral dilemma and state it quite differently – one could feel no sense of guilt or remorse while the other will hold to the belief that they have done something wrong and need to right it, and them self.

We see this played out everyday in our family, neighborhood, church, media, politics, everywhere. As many people as there are, will determine the variety of standards there will be.

So for today at least, let’s assert God’s standard. It is the highest possible standard for my mind and heart to attach to. God’s standard is His perfect law. His Word.

His law is not burdensome. 1 John 5:3 NIV

His law is perfect, trustworthy, right, radiant, pure, firm, more valuable than gold, and sweeter than honey. Psalm. 19:7-10 NIV

When I apply His Word to my guilt, what happens?

Well, as mentioned above, if I keep silent or ignore any guilt or wrongdoing when in fact there should be guilt because I have wronged someone, then that is where the psychological consequences kick in and the cycle of guilt plays out: 1. should 2. action/inaction 3. guilt

But the other option in the face of guilt and God’s word is – “I acknowledge my guilt and do not cover it up… and you forgive the guilt of my sin.” Psalm 32:5

When we see that the purpose of guilt is to restore relationship and we admit our need for that restoration, we receive his forgiveness, His cleansing and restoration. We admit our need to Him and he forgives us. Psalm 51 In this process, we learn to take action as needed, move on from it and learn from our mistakes. Our conscience is then cleared before God and man.

Clearing our conscience is vital for healthy living. Allowing things to build up, unresolved, unaddressed is of no value to you or your health. Keeping our conscience sensitive to Him means staying open on the inside and addressing needed issues each day.

We are charged in scripture to not let the sun go down on our anger. We are reminded that His mercies are new every morning. This indicates the daily practice of taking out the trash of our cluttered conscience, and not allowing guilt, grudges, or messy life decisions to pile up.

Blessed is the one, whose sin is not counted against him and in whom is no deceit. Psalm 32:2

Having a clear conscience keeps us connected to others and to God.

That is why we “strive always to keep a clear conscience”. I hope it’s a conscience held to the highest standard of God’s Word. But that choice is yours.

Cheers to you.

The Most Beautiful Heart

This is a beautiful short story, whose author in unknown.

A young man was proud of his healthy and beautiful heart. One day, standing in the middle of town, he proclaimed that he had the most beautiful heart in the whole valley. A large crowd gathered to have a look at his heart. His heart was smooth, shiny, and looked very healthy. Indeed, the man had the most beautiful heart in the valley, everyone agreed.

The proud young man felt delighted and boasted his perfect heart which everyone admired. Suddenly, a voice from the crowd said, “Your heart is not as beautiful as mine.” The young man searched for the person behind the voice and an old man appeared in front of him.

“Show us your heart if you believe you have got a more beautiful heart than mine”, said the young man. The old man carefully showed his heart. The crowd and the young man looked at the old man’s heart. The heart was beating strongly and healthily but it was not smooth and shiny as the young man’s heart. Instead, it had scars all over it. It had places where some pieces of the heart had been removed and other pieces were put in. The other pieces didn’t fit perfectly and there were several uneven edges. In some places, there were even deep gouges where some pieces were missing.

The crowd laughed at the old man’s heart. “How can he claim that he has the most beautiful heart when it is all scared and uneven,” they thought.

The young man looked at the old man’s heart and laughed. “You must be kidding. Compare your heart and mine. My heart looks perfect and smooth and yours is a mess of scars and tears.”

“Yes, your heart looks perfect, but I would never trade your heart with mine,” said the old man. “Every scar in my heart represents a person whom I have given my love. I tear a piece of my heart and give it to them. Often, my loved one gives me back a piece of their heart which fits into the empty place in my heart. Since everyone loves each other in a different way, their piece of heart may not perfectly fit in my heart, so you can see some rough edges. These scars and rough edges remind me of the love we shared.” he continued.

“Sometimes I would give a piece of my heart, but the other person may not return a piece of his heart to me. These are the empty gouges. Although these gouges are painful, these remind me of the love I have for these people too. So do you now see what a true beauty I have?” asked the old man.

The young man and the crowd stood silently with tears running down their cheeks. The young man walked to the old man, reached into his perfect young and beautiful heart, ripped a piece out of it and offered it to the man with trembling hands. The old man gratefully received his offering, placed it in his heart and then took a piece from his old heart and placed it in the young man’s heart.

The young man looked at his heart, it did not look shiny and smooth like it used to. But, it was now more beautiful because he could feel the love from the old man’s heart flowing into him. They embraced and walked away side by side.


May today mark the start of generational healing and binding together.

May today mark the binding up of broken hearts and a recognition of the beauty that radiates from brokenness.

May today mark the reality that nothing in our lives is wasted and serves a useful purpose in strengthening our heart.

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Proverbs 4:23 NIV

Cheers to you.

A Little Foggy

We recently had made plans to meet a friend at the harbor and get her launched with her new kayak. As it turned out, the weather was not very cooperative.

Although when my husband and I first started out it was chilly, by the time our friend had arrived it was drizzly, windy and foggy (or very misty). So we sat in the cabin for a while and then it actually started raining and the fog horn began blasting its short bursts sending alarm to all. Oh boy!

We chatted and got caught up until it eventually stopped raining and the moisture lightened up as did the foggy haze. So we seized the moment, launched the kayak and enjoyed sharing the excitement of a new kayaker on the water with coaching, cheering, instructing and encouraging. The weather was manageable and the company enjoyable.

Visibility was limited but descent, chill was present (too chilly for me to paddle as she kayaked) but she was “happier than words can say.” Knowing she would need to launch herself from Baby Beach eventually, we decided to drive our dinghy and tow the kayak to Baby Beach for her to practice there. So we set out on the half mile jaunt.

As we proceeded, it was getting colder, rainier and foggier. We were very cold, wet and literally in a fog. Yet we splashed on and arrived at our destination. Each noted on the short trip, how long it seemed to be taking, and each was probably thinking, “What in the world are we doing out in this?”.

When we arrived at our destination, it was not as foggy or windy, so kayaking around was again a pleasure and learning curve for our friend who was totally loving it, minus the cold wind on the way. She was even able to paddle herself back, learning the currents, winds, vessel rules and paddle strokes as we drove alongside of her in the dinghy.

Way to go, Virginia!

By the time we arrived back at the boat, the fog had totally lifted, the moisture entirely gone from the air, the skies were blue, and we were hot and very happy campers (or kayakers). What a difference! What a change from when we first started out. We hadn’t the foggiest notion such a change would be granted to us.

We were able to spend some more quality time in the warm sun, enjoying a late lunch and each other’s company. The fog had lifted for us beautifully.

Foggy similarities:

  1. Fog forms in the difference between cold and warm air (air temperature & dew point) – my mind will be a little foggy or a lot foggy when there are major highs and lows in my life. I need stability, level paths, consistency, routine, regularity.
  2. Fog lowers visibility – I can see nothing clearly when my head space is foggy. In a fog, it is solid objects that cast shadows. Everything I see is off, because of fog’s affect.
  3. As air heats up, fog disappears – doing something, getting moving, starting something will warm me up and the mental fog will disappear. The hotter I get, the brighter it will become.
  4. Being fogged in – even though the environment is currently telling me I’m unable to move about safely, I won’t allow myself to get fogged in. There are ways to keep on splashing through the fog. Find them. Heat up the air. See the fog lift.
  5. Fog can disappear as suddenly as it appears – this “flash fog” depends on humidity and temperature. So again, fight off coldness, cooling off, chilling out too much and I will see flash fog flee.
  6. Fog drip – the California Redwood Forests receive 30-40% of their moisture from coastal fog. This is called fog drip. Be sure to collect and use the fresh water that falls on you during your foggy days, even the fog has a purpose in your life.
  7. Fog can play a key role in historical events – George Washington and his troops escaped capture in the fog in August, 1776. On the beaches of Normandy in WWII the Allies landed in foggy conditions. Both positive and negative results can come from foggy, impaired visibility.
  8. When your heart is right, conditions can’t stop you – the power for our decisions comes from the condition of our heart. Learning to persevere in spite of conditions and through elements is a life skill in need of sharpening. Forging on, in wisdom and strength is possible and needed in the human experience. We can drive foggy mindedness away by our decisive actions.

“The fog of illusions, the fog of confusion is hanging over all the world. “

Van Morrison

“Sometimes it all gets a little too much, but you gotta realize that soon the fog will clear up.”

Shawn Mendes


” Faith is like radar that sees through the fog.”

Corrie Ten Boom

When it’s foggy, ships need to hear the fog horn signals – it’s a matter of life and death.

I trust within these stories and comparisons, you will be able to hear and respond to the signals in your own life of being a little foggy.

Cheers to you.

We all like sheep

Do you remember hearing about these three famous, ground breaking sheep?

Montauciel – the famous French sheep? Shrek – the infamous 59 1/2 pound sheep? Dolly – the first mammal cloned?

Here’s a refresher:

Montauciel, who’s name means “climb to the sky” in French, was used as guinea pig for the Mongolfier brothers in the 18th century who were experimenting with hot air balloons. The sheep was put in the basket, along with a duck and rooster and actually flew 2 miles at an altitude of 1,500 ft, before the balloon landed. All passengers were ok upon landing.

Shrek, lived on a wool farm in New Zealand with 17,000 other Merino sheep. These sheep are sheared once a year but Shrek was having none of it! He hid for 6 years as each yearly shearing time came. Seriously! After 6 years, in 2004 he was finally caught and shorn in 20 minutes. 59 1/2 pounds of wool came from him, enough to make 20 men’s wool suits.

Shrek before
Shrek after

Dolly, the sheep, was the first mammal cloned from an adult cell in 1996. She was used for medical research.

Now, I admit that I’m a city girl, but there is a lot to be learned from sheep. So baaaa-re with me.

Check out these characteristics of sheep, both good and baaa-d:

  • Sheep experience emotions like humans. Fear, anger, rage, despair, disgust, boredom and happiness. They actually feel despair when their friends are led to the slaughter.
  • Sheep are intelligent with impressive facial memory skills.
  • Sheep have excellent hearing and can recognize their shepherd’s voice out of a crowd.
  • Sheep have a strong instinct to follow the sheep in front of them – off a cliff or through water, makes no difference. They are hardwired to follow without even thinking.
  • Sheep have poor depth perception; shadows and dips in the ground cause them to baulk.
  • Sheep build friendships and stick up for one another in fights.
  • Sheep are very social creatures and require the presence of 4-5 other sheep when they are grazing in order to maintain their visual link to each other.
  • Sheep find safety in numbers and get agitated when separated.
  • Sheep have excellent peripheral vision fields of 270-320 degrees.
  • Sheep are susceptible to disease such as parasites when they are mismanaged.
  • Sheep wag their tails, like dogs and form bonds with their shepherd.

Throughout history, humans have been compared to sheep. In ancient times kings were considered the shepherds of their kingdoms and the people his sheep.

In the Bible we see this played out with the twist the we (human’s) are the sheep of The Lord’s pasture.

“Know that the Lord is God. It is He who has made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of His pasture.”

Psalm 100:3

Probably the most well known passage in the Bible about sheep and the shepherd is Psalm 23. And that passage is at the heart of this message.

When I was recently reading this passage, I was struck with over 11 things that the shepherd does for the sheep! The entire psalm is one in which the Shepherd takes the initiative and responsibility for the care, protection, provision, supervision and defense of the sheep in his/her flock. Check it out.

Here is the list I made in my notebook of what Our Shepherd does for us, His sheep:

  1. He provides everything I need. I don’t go without anything that I need. He is my friend.
  2. He makes me lie down – whether I think I need to rest or not, He knows I do and makes stretch out.
  3. He leads me – he actually is in front of me leading me to the goal or watering place where I will find rest.
  4. He refreshes my soul – he renews me in my weariness and allows strength to return to me.
  5. He guides me – again he’s waaaay ahead of me, guiding me along the bumpy path.
  6. In the valley, He is with me – when shadows and darkness overwhelm me, He is right there with me.
  7. Both his rod and staff bring me comfort – his rod corrects me and his staff supports me – both bring me comfort and repentance when needed.
  8. In the face of my enemies, he orders and arranges all that I need to be sustained.
  9. He puts oil on my head providing healing, acceptance and sweet fragrance.
  10. He promises goodness and love will always have my back.
  11. AND, he wants to live with me forever! Not just here in this pen on this planet.

Wouldn’t you agree that the sheep have a pretty good gig?

The shepherd totally has the sheep covered. The sheep do so very little and are so dependent on the shepherd. Yet there is a sweet, personal relationship between each sheep and their shepherd that makes the sheep wag it’s tail in happiness and satisfaction when close to their shepherd or listening to his voice.

The precious, tender, reality of these verses demonstrate the Lord’s patient, conscious, willful, loving, strong, and complete care for us – his sheep.

Our Great Shepherd

I was and continue to be overwhelmed by my careful shepherd.

I trust “the wool not be pulled over your eyes” and you too, rest confidently in the complete care and provision of your Great Shepherd.

Cheers to you.

For a complete downloadable Bible study on the 23rd Psalm, go to my Bible studies and click on the file.

The Fear Factor

Years ago there was a show our family loved to watch – Fear Factor. Joe Rogan, now famous podcaster was the host and he had individuals do the scariest and most fearful things. It was creepy, scary, and fun to watch.

I wish I could say the same about the fear factor in each of our lives. Watching how we handle fear in our life, what we do with it, how we manage it is not nearly as much fun as watching Joe Rogan. But regardless, we are faced with our own fears and how we handle them is vital.

We all have fears. Fears of one kind or another. And even though we were born with just two fears, there are six basic fears we all must deal with.

  • The two fears we are born with
  • fear of falling
  • fear of loud noises
  • Six basic fears
  • poverty
  • criticism
  • ill health
  • loss of love from someone
  • old age
  • death

Most of us deal with multiple fears. Hey, welcome to humanity. So check out the list, identify yours.

Here’s the deal though, each of those 6 fears have multiple symptoms that demonstrate in our life. And that is where it becomes very complicated and tangled.

Let me list symptoms and you associate each with the fear you think it is a symptom of:

  • lack of ambition
  • self-consciousness
  • hypochondria
  • inferiority
  • jealousy
  • laziness
  • keeping up with the Jones’
  • fault finding
  • indecision
  • procrastination
  • lack of exercise or over exercise
  • self-coddling
  • fear of failure

I actually have a book with lists beside me with dozens of symptoms for each of those fears, not just these listed. So, if we are living and breathing, there’s quite a pile of tangled strings for us to undo.

But that is the key – we each have to manage that ball of twisted symptoms and fears. Denial doesn’t work, it just pushes fear below the surface. But denial also makes personal growth and progress impossible. When the symptoms aren’t heeded and dealt with our life becomes stressed, overwhelmed, depressed, out of balance, and eventually we are being managed by the fear, rather than us managing the fear.

We make excuses, procrastinate, have diversions, avoid, find fault, etc., etc., etc. when fear is ruling our life. I know, I do it.

So what’s the answer?

Anthony Robins, in Awaken the Giant Within, has a 6 step plan that I have whittled down to 3 steps: (sorry Anthony, it works better for me.)

ONE – Identify your fear

TWO – Redirect your fear

THREE – Act on your fear

Identify your fear – call it out, unmask it. Don’t deny it. My personal fear project for nearly a year has been the fear of failure. That belongs to the fear of criticism from the list above.

Redirect your fear – Science tells us you get what you focus on. So if I want failure, I should focus on it. But I don’t want failure, so I must redirect my focus. I choose to focus on success, God’s ability to help me through, and placing my trust in Him and His ability. I redirect my focus on trusting God who is with me, and not on my debilitating fear.

Act on it – it’s pretty easy to say I trust Him, but I must act on it. Faith without works is dead, empty, void, a lie. Taking action on my fear is fearful! No lie. But each time I do, and by repeated practice, my strength becomes greater, my trust in Him becomes greater and that fear diminishes. Without action, nothing would change. I must be brave and step into action.

Just a note here. Most of my blogs are intentionally not overtly or overwhelmingly biblical. That is by design. However, with this particular theme today, I must say, that the only way to overcome your fears that will last is by learning to trust Jesus as your focus, rather than your fears. Practice redirecting your focus on Him. Take your eyes off of your fear and step toward Him. You will never be disappointed.

“You have nothing to fear but fear itself.”

FDR

The most frequent command in the Bible is DO NOT BE AFRAID.

There’s a reason for that.

We humans are so fearful. But our God cares and will unravel our sorted mess of fears and symptoms if we focus on Him and place our trust in Him, thereby conquering The Fear Factor.

.Cheers to you.