Wednesday, January 9, 2019

He's Your Good Shepherd!

Dear Friends,

If I were a prosperity preacher, I would tell you that 2019 will be our best year ever and our Nation will receive a double portion of happiness and prosperity! But God may not be pleased with what is taking place in our Country today. On Sunday night’s Golden Globes Awards show, actor Christian Bale gave all the glory to “Satan” for his Best Actor award win. In response, the Church of Satan ecstatically tweeted their appreciation for the shout-out that honored their deity on national television. Courts are ordering that the "offensive" cross be removed from all public memorials and many schools have prohibited children from bringing a Bible to school because it contains "hate speech." Most schools across the Nation banned any mention of Christmas this year while the liberal media reported a “yearly reminder that Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is a parable on racism & homophobia.” And then progressive liberals attacked the Bing Crosby song “White Christmas” for being about white supremacy. Of course the lyrics “I’m dreaming of a ‘white’ Christmas” are about snow – not people – but the media pounced on this as another example of a racist Christmas song!

Purity rings are worn by Christian teenage girls and young women as a pledge that “true love waits” and signifies their commitment to be chaste until marriage. The most prominent ELCA (Lutheran) pastor and author in America today is Nadia Bolz-Weber who said last month that the purity movement is “patriarchal theology that has harmed countless women.” Bolz-Weber has started a national movement for women to send her their purity rings to be melted down and recast into a statue of a “golden vagina.” This pastor says that “purity” isolates us from others, and the Bible teaches that true holiness is our connection with others that includes open sexual relationships. America is changing. Churches are changing. You may love and applaud the direction our Country is going and, if so, I’m going to prophesy that you will then like 2019 and receive a double portion of happiness in the new year!

But as for me, the words of Billy Graham come to mind. Five years ago he said, “When America’s leaders actively promote and legislate immorality, restrict the religious freedoms that our country was founded upon, and are openly hostile to men and women of faith, then I believe we are ripe for God’s judgement.” That can make us some of us believers wring our hands in despair until we remember that no matter what happens in 2019, we will still sing the words in that beloved hymn that: “all is well with my soul.”

Psalm 23 is so often read at memorial and funeral services, that seeing and hearing the familiar words can evoke a cloud of memories–some from long ago and perhaps some still painfully recent. And we may either get stuck on or gloss over the words: “Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death.” Psalm 23:4 But the words “shadow of death” are translated from one compound Hebrew word meaning a place of “intensely thick darkness.” It means a place of discouragement and despair. We will walk through the valley of “death” just one time in our lives, but we walk through that dark and dreadful valley of “despair” many times. We walk through that valley when we have experienced personal loss. When we are worried and afraid about our future. 

Perhaps we even find ourselves in that valley of despair when we see the changes in our Country and in some of our churches today. Our values and beliefs may feel threatened and we worry about what a new year will bring for us. That’s when we need to remember that no matter how many times we walk through the valley, we walk not alone. “Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

We have just celebrated Christmas. The Incarnation. God with us! Jesus is the Son of God – the Savior – the Word – the I AM. He is the Good Shepherd in Psalms 23 and yet that may be what is most difficult for us to really get! Psalm 23:1 says, “The Lord is my shepherd!” Jesus Christ is not just the Shepherd, He’s your Shepherd. This is just too big for us to wrap our brain around. God created the Universe and then He created our World. And He created you. And then He told you that He will be your Shepherd. The Almighty God who created the Heavens and Earth has made YOU the object of His concern and care!

Jesus has chosen you; He calls you by name; He knows you; He provides for you; He gives you rest while He protects you. He gives you eternal life and no one can snatch you out of His hand! John 10:27-30 And, He invites you to dwell in His house – in His presence – forever. The good Shepherd is YOUR good Shepherd! That’s the most amazing blessing for all of us in 2019, and that’s why we can say with trust and confidence that all is well with our soul!

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