Loving One Another

Posts tagged ‘sheep’

Who's in Charge?


The Power of Love

For God did not give us
A spirit of cowardice,
But rather a spirit of power
and of love and self-discipline.

2 Timothy 1:7


Do we have enough self-discipline
To take advantage of this time –
This time to just BE and just LOVE
And make the world a better place?

Ann Weems, in Putting the Amazing Back in Grace, wrote:
“Remember, you’re in charge of remembering
that God is in charge, and that’s a big job
that will last a lifetime.”

Just Love!

God’s got this!!
Have a peace-filled Sunday, my friends.

Oh, and in case you, like us, missed church today,
here is the sermon for today that our pastor,
Rev. Steve Hundley sent out via e-mail.

Find a comfortable chair, grab a cup o’ tea or coffee, and augment your Sunday with a worshipful, inspiring message:

INSTRUCTIONS FOR LIFE

Read Psalm 23

     Not long after becoming the pastor of three small churches in the mountains of Virginia, I was asked to give the Baccalaureate Address to the graduating class of Bath County High School.  It used to be, at least in the Bible Belt where I grew up, that local high schools have both a Baccalaureate and Graduation ceremony.  The Baccalaureate was held one evening, a day or two before the actual Graduation Commencement.  And it was tradition to invite a religious leader in the community to speak.  However, I’m not sure that the message I delivered was what the school administration, or even the students, had in mind.

     In most cases, the message given would be a positive one meant to motivate the students to go out and change the world, such as: “You are God’s ambassadors, the hope for a broken world!”  Or: If you can imagine it, you can achieve it; if you can dream it, you can become it.”  Or, perhaps: “Shoot for the Moon, for even if you miss, you’ll find yourself among the stars!”  Most Baccalaureate, as well as, Commencement speakers would have them believe that they can be and do anything they set their minds to, (but with God’s help, of course).

     I, however, felt that it was my duty to inform them that they were nothing but a bunch of “harebrained” sheep.  I saw that!  You raised your eyebrows, didn’t you?  (Note from JanBeek, see the picture of sheep I put at the end of this sermon!)

Yet, that is what the Bible says.  Yes, as much as we would like to think of ourselves as having the heart of a lion, we share more in common with sheep.

      You see, like sheep, we tend to stray easily and lose our way.  I’ve have been told that if one sheep spooks and tears off in one direction, all the others will follow.  Imagine a bunch of sheep running up a hill.  Suddenly the one in front makes a sudden left turn, and all the others, with no questions asked, mindlessly follow.  If the one leading heads right off a cliff, tumbling to its death, all the others follow right off the cliff as well.  But, you say, “We’re not like that!”

     I heard recently about a young married couple.  The wife bought a country ham to cook for her husband’s family who were coming over for dinner.  Before putting it in a pot to bake it, she cut both ends off.  “Why did you do that,” her husband asked.  “I did it because that is the way my mother always did it,” she said.  Calling her mother on the phone, she asked: “Mom, why do we cut the ends off a ham before cooking it?”  “I don’t know.  I do it because it is the way my mother always did it.”  Calling up her grandmother, she asked, “Grandmother, why do we cut the ends off a ham before baking it?”  “I don’t know why you and your mother do it, but I always did it because it wouldn’t fit in my small baking pan.”

     Yes, if one sheep spooks and tears off, all the others will follow.  Still, you say, “We are smarter than that!”  (Try to find a roll of toilet paper, or a bottle of hand sanitizer these days.  Just saying.)

     Attending a Montana State University lecture not long ago, the speaker, a journalist professor, pointed out just how partisan our country has become.  He said that we have lost the will, and therefore, the ability to listen and dialogue with those who disagree with us.  “We only listen to those news networks that confirm what we believe to be true,” he said.  “We socialize with those who believe like us. In other words, we are like sheep who follow blindly our own flock.”  Oh, by the way, did you know that a flock of sheep are called a “MOB?”  Google it.

     Secondly, sheep not only tend to follow their “mob”, they are also fragile creatures.  Ken Davis, a comedian, tells of growing up on a sheep farm.  He said there was an old ram on their farm that loved to sneak up behind him and butt him when he wasn’t looking.  He hated that old ram.  One day he spotted the old bruiser coming around the back of the barn.  Determined to get back at that old ram, he looked around for something to hit him with.  With nothing in sight and ram rounding the corner, Ken jumped out and hollered: “BOO!”  It was all he could think to do. 

“Startled,” Ken said, “that old ram just keeled over AND DIED!” 

Later, his father confronted him, “Son, you hit that sheep, didn’t you?” 

“No dad, I said, BOO! and it just died!”

     A crack of thunder is all it takes to scare a sheep literally to death.  As much as we like to think of ourselves as indestructible, this present pandemic and the fact you are reading this sermon in your own home, shows just how fragile we are.  Our Lord Jesus said: “When you pray, say, ‘Our Father, who art in heaven…give us this day our daily bread…and, deliver us from evil’.”

     Yes, we are like sheep who are in need of a Shepherd.  We need help.  Going it alone, depending on our own wiles, spells certain disaster.  I remember one sheep herder/shepherd telling of turning his flock loose one night in the mountains to graze alone on their own.  He knew it was a risk, because sheep cannot defend themselves, much less outrun, even the slowest predators.  Sheep tend to go astray, grazing along without looking where they are going. 

    He did, however, leave them in the care of his trusty sheep dog.  Locating them the next morning, he discovered that they had wandered into a rather rugged mountain park.  Being the rather clumsy animals that they are, more than a few of them had managed to fall over while feeding on the uneven ground. He found sheep scattered around the meadow upside down on their backs unable to get up. He said: “I had to go around picking up sheep and placing them back on their feet.

     The Prophet Isaiah warns the Israelites of the danger of going it alone.  “See, the Lord’s arm is not too short to save … to pick you up when you have fallen.” (Isaiah 59:1)

     While I doubt that anyone was prepared for me to compare the graduating class of Bath County High School to a “flock”, or should I say “mob” of sheep…the foolish notion that the future of the world rested on their shoulders is categorically untrue!  The longer I live, the more I am convinced that what we need to make it in this world is not popularity and success, not financial wealth or even personal happiness.

    What we need is Christ, the Good Shepherd, to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves and instruct us in the proper order of our lives.  For, “The Lord is our Shepherd, we shall not want.  He makes us lie down in green pastures; he leads us beside still waters; it is our Shepherd who restores our souls, who leads us in right paths.  Even though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we fear not evil…”

     Notice how Psalm 23 reverses the order of how we tend to live our lives.  It is our tendency to approach life head on, burning ourselves out.  And then, turn back to God in search of rest and soul-restoration after a week of chasing the illusive American dream.  Yet, notice that this Psalm reverses the order.  First, there is the Shepherd who provides what we need most, rest and soul restoration.  Only then is it possible to find meaning and purpose in God’s emerging kingdom or face dark valleys. 

   This is the blessing Jesus wanted Martha to see when she was burning herself out by busying herself in the kitchen.  Jesus said to her: “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing.  Mary has chosen the better part…” (Luke 10:41-42).

     Notice how the New Testament church began in Acts 2:46-47: “They followed a daily discipline of busying themselves with programs and activities, burning themselves out, so that people liked what they saw and everyday their numbers grew…”  ??? NO! NO! NO!

    It says: “They followed a daily discipline of worship in the temple, followed by meals together in their homes, every meal a celebration, exuberant and joyful, as they praised God.  People in general liked what they saw.  Everyday their numbers grew as God added those who were saved.”

   Yes, Genesis tells us that “God created the world and on the seventh day, and then He rested.”  That’s true, but WE ARE NOT GOD!  Christ died for our sins, our weaknesses, and on the first day of the week He arose from the dead!   So, we begin with rest, worship, and spiritual recreation before facing the challenges of daily living and serving our God.

   We are His sheep, who find our rest in the arms of the Good Shepherd, so that He might equip us for the facing of this hour even as we face this dark valley of the shadow of death.  For we are not alone, for God in Christ is with us.  Amen.

Hah! Sheep indeed…
But unique indeed, too.
Show your uniqueness today!!
  • Read Psalm 23 again.
  • In what new and unique way have you felt God’s comforting presence?

See ya tomorrow.
Thanks for visiting JanBeek
and for hangin’ in there together.
Have a beautiful Sunday.
Together, in FAITH,
we shall overcome!!

Just remember,
we’re not in charge –
God is!!

Granddaughter’s In-Laws


We’re so grateful that our granddaughter, Faith, married into this beautiful McSparron family! Such a gift to the Beekmans to extend our hearts into Kutztown, PA!! This is a sweet, quaint college town.

Here’s Lisa, Kyle’s mom
Allen, Kyle’s dad

Their house was designed by Allen & Lisa and built by the McSparron boys & dad.

They call it their cottage
It is amazing!
Their view is beautiful.
The stained glass window was created by an artist inspired by a picture Allen took in Switzerland. It’s the church where Lisa’s ancestors, the Caveltis, worshiped.

Such fun to have Lisa’s heritage also be in Switzerland where our DeDe and her family lives.

After a delicious breakfast topped off by the wonderful pear dessert left from last night, we went “hunting and gathering” in the gorgeous countryside.

Wooden Bridge Dry Goods
I’d never seen multi-colored sheep before. Have you?
Many of the farms are owned and managed by Menninites.
Inside Wooden Bridge Dry Goods was an amazing display of every kind of fabric imaginable.
These are spools of thread!
The Reddinger’s Farmers Market had a variety of apple for sale I’d never heard of before: Faith! That’s our granddaughter’s name… so of course, we had to buy some.
Lisa is with Bob – and Allen is over at the register behind them. In his retirement, Allen enjoys working at the Pinnacle Ridge Winery.

As you can see, we are busy “hunting & gathering” in a variety of places.

So it’s wine tasting time. See ya later!

You can see that Allen enjoys his job!
And we enjoyed the wine!
We bought some Pinot Grigio to enjoy with tonight’s dinner.
What’s your favorite varietal?

Counting Ponies


I lie there awake
It is three in the morning
Counting sheep in vain

Counting sheep to go to sleep doesn’t work!

Last night was the same
But I told my friend Derrick
That I’d count ponies

He had a wonderful collection of photos of ponies on his blog.

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derrickjknightRamblings

Check out his blog.
It won’t put you to sleep.
It is delightful reading
and his photography is superb!!

The Early Evening Light

Now I need to count ponies and try to get some sleep.
What works for you when you can’t sleep?

See ya later

Spoken For


Sunday morning Sermon Notes
Rev. Jean Johnson – inspired by John 10:22-30
Notes recorded
by Jan Beekman
5/12/19

God Loves You

Spoken For

“Back off, Sister, he’s spoken for!”
He smiled, “I didn’t know. How nice!”
Think about this message today.
In fact, think about it twice!


Someone has stepped up to claim you.
Faith is understanding who you are:
A Child of God who loves you.
Are you following the right star?


It’s not a walk that you control.
Our power over thoughts and actions
Is limited by our frail humanity.
There are temptations and other factions.


God is God  – – – and we are not.
We are sinners – even with best of intentions.
We can’t climb up to God,
Not with the greatest of ladder extensions!


God came down to us in Jesus.
He calls us to follow; we’re His sheep.
God took the path toward us – and we
Have been found; even without a peep!


It’s reassuring to know it’s not me.
It’s reassuring to know God came.
He came to save me in spite of myself.
He came and He called me by name!


Here I am, Lord. I didn’t know – how nice!
Yes, I’m spoken for. I’m received.
Yes, I’m yours, Lord. Thank You.
Use me, God; I won’t be deceived!

Amen?
Amen!

See you tomorrow.

Feed and Follow


Sermon Notes from
5/5/19
Rev. Jean Johnson’s message
inspired by John 21:1-19

“Feed and Follow”

We are needy people
Who need daily encouragement.
We need assurance;
We need to know what Jesus meant
When He said, “Feed my sheep.”

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We call out for forgiveness.
We are hungry for God’s grace.
How shall we feed on grace?
How shall we receive forgiveness?
Obey Christ’s command, “Feed My sheep!”

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We hunger for His grace.
We yearn for His mercy.
We are healed by forgiveness.
We are to care for and feed those
Christ meant with, “Feed My sheep.”

.
Christ converted Shakey Simon
Into the Solid Rock Peter.
Through Christ, God provides us
With the Solid Word to feed others.
We can, in fact, follow “Feed My Sheep.”

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In His command is God ‘s promise
Of provision for His followers.
The church will feed on the Gospel.
The church will nourish others
With Good News – “We feed God’s Sheep!”

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We are here as needy people
To receive the encouragement
To feed on His assurance,
And then to go out and indeed
Do as He commands: “Feed My sheep!”

.
On this Cinco de Mayo,
I have decided that when we
go out into the world and
Feed His Sheep,
we bring color into their lives.

colored sheep
Don’t you agree?
The Good News certainly colors MY world!!

Happy Cinco de Mayo, my friends.
See you tomorrow.

Image

Another Wordless Wednesday


ram in snow.jpg

Be Led, Not Driven


The Purpose Driven Life

I have an affection for Rick Warren’s book, The Purpose Driven Life. It has so many words of wisdom – and it helped me as I was trying to define my purpose for living. I had recently suffered a burst appendix and had almost died. Prayer, God’s grace, a skillful ambulance driver, and a careful surgeon gave me back my life. I looked earnestly for clues about how I might live purposely for God to thank Him for my survival.

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This book of Daily Inspirations is a complement to The Purpose Driven Life. I used it as a devotional and as a journal, writing in the margins and at the top and bottom of the pages each day.


Soul Feast

But recently I read a quote by Marjorie J. Thompson in her book, Soul Feast.

Thompson wrote, “I admit I do not care for the language of ‘driven-ness’ in recently popular books and seminars…” She went on to explain “… it is significant that the Bible likens us to sheep, not cattle.”


My Haiku

Giving overtime thought to Marjorie J. Thompson’s  quote I wrote the following Haiku:

Live from a posture
Of profound trust and deep love
Be sheep, not cattle

 

Deep Conversation

My husband and I had a deep conversation about life and death, purpose and the difference between being led and being driven. When I am weary, Jesus leads me beside still waters. He refreshes my soul.

alberta amazing attraction banff

Photo by James Wheeler on Pexels.com

Cowboys here in Montana drive their cattle to the next pasture and farmers in Switzerland drive their cows in the springtime up to fresh grass from the lower meadows where the beautiful animals have spent the winters.

agriculture alps animal background

Photo by Krivec Ales on Pexels.com

IMG_0160

But Bob’s point as my hubby discussed the difference between being driven and led, was that cattlemen drive their cattle for the same reason shepherds lead their sheep. They have their best interests at heart. (Well, they may be driving them to market!)

There is a connotation to the word “driven” in our American culture. It seems to imply push-push-push, a relentless effort toward getting to the top.

 

Hope for the Flowers

I was reminded of a book for adults and others (including caterpillars who can read)  titled, Hope for the Flowers, by Trina Paulus. It was copyrighted in 1973, but it is as pertinent today as it was then (and it still is available on Amazon.com).

As I recall the story, the caterpillars in this clever little tale are climbing over the top of each other, creating a  “caterpillar pillar.” One little creeper is on the outside edge, getting tired of the climb, wondering if it’s worth it. She asks a fellow climber as she looks at the daunting distance to the top, “What’s up there, anyway?”

“Just other caterpillars pushing each other off so they can be on top,” her climbing companion explained as one of the fuzzy creatures came tumbling down and crashed to the ground.

(How sad, huh? I am fascinated by these wonderful creations and their metamorphosis.)

caterpillar close up hairy insect

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Right about then the disillusioned climber caught the eye of a beautiful butterfly cruising by. “Climb on down,” he encouraged. “Spin yourself a chrysalis, rest inside, and eventually you will emerge a butterfly like I did. Then you can join me.”

(Of course those quotes are from my memory, not the actual book. I loaned it out to someone…. don’t remember who… but I have ordered a new one. Hope for the Flowers is a terrific book to have on hand as a reminder of my journey!)

Moving Down the Administrative Ladder

I discovered this beautiful, child-like, but profound, paperback when I was working as a curriculum coordinator in the district office at a school district in central California. My office was waaay too far from the children. I had been an elementary teacher for over 20 years and the principal of a K-6 school with over a thousand students for nearly a decade. The “caterpillar pillar” (that ambitious climb to greater “success”) led me to the district office. I knew after only about three weeks that it was not where I belonged.

I stuck it out for two years. Did the best job I knew how. Wore at least a half a dozen hats (Federal Programs director, language arts and music coordinator, in-service leader for new teachers, mentor for new principals, etc.) I learned a lot, and am glad I did it,but generally, I was not happy. My love & my gift was teaching children and helping “my staff” grow to be their best selves. I loved the interaction with the students, the teachers, and the parents.

As I climbed back down the “pillar” and announced that I was going back UP to the classroom (as soon as I rested a year and earned my butterfly wings), I was told, “What are you doing? That’s the wrong direction!”

Some warned, “You can’t go back down! People will think you’ve been demoted!”

“Yes, I can,” I insisted. I slid into my chrysalis, listened to The Voice of Reason and Transformation, rested, and devoted more time to my family, myself and my God.

I emerged a happy butterfly and was led back UP to a group of first graders. At the end of that year I led them on to second grade. What joy! I still hear from some of those children twenty years later. Several of them are my Facebook friends!

Best move I ever made!!

antenna beautiful bloom blossom

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com


The Voice

Contemplative time
Creates vessels of vision
Hear the “still small voice”

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Let God fill you up
with new creativity
Receive fresh insight

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I encourage you
To let contemplative time
Be a microphone

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Let unstructured time
Be a transformative time
Listen to The Voice!


Take time to rest.
Build your chrysalis.
Listen to your heart.

Find your True Purpose!

You may want to consider getting Rick Warren’s, The Purpose Driven Life,
and the accompanying inspirational/journal:

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and look for Hope for the Flowers. It’s out there…

Be Led, Not Driven

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