Saturday, September 20, 2008

A Shepherd Looks Psalm 23 by W. Phillip Keller

The Lord! But who is the Lord? What is His character?
Does He have adequate credentials
to be my Shepherd—my manager—my owner?
~ W. Phillip Keller, A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23

Every person who claims to know the 23rd Psalm should read this 173 book. Find out what it really means for a sheep to lie down in green pastures. Discover what the “table” in the presence of enemies refers to for the shepherd.

Never again will I speak a phrase of the 23rd Psalm without thinking of the pictures planted in my mind by this little book. It has given me a feeling of truly being loved and cared for by the Lord, my Shepherd, in the midst of his flock.

Learn the depth of meaning of this so often quoted Psalm from the experience of a shepherd.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Leadership's Pure Joy

Perseverance must finish its work
so that you may be mature and complete,
not lacking anything.

~ James 1:4 (Context James 1:2-8)

God seemed to have set the stage. I was the only one who could attend the meeting with the women’s ministry pastor. This is good, I thought. This will make it easier to explain my situation.

My heart was thumping boldly in my chest, my palms a little clammy and my breathing a bit shaky. After an exchange of greetings and small talk, I took a deep breath and forged ahead, “I need some wise counsel.” She smiled, raised an eyebrow and sat back with a little chuckle at her own joke. As she quietly listened, I shared my irritations fully expecting her to agree that our church should not promote an organization that does such things.

Instead, there was silence. Time seemed to stand still. Then, with that same gentle smile, she spoke. I felt the prick of what I knew was intended to be discipline and encouragement. With the patience of a mom guiding a toddler’s steps, she related the importance of perseverance and working together for the common good even when we don’t fully agree on every issue. Knowing my passion, she asked a few simple questions. “Do you still agree with the vision and mission of the ministry? Do the differences out weigh God’s purpose? Does this issue make it impossible for you to work with other leaders in the ministry?” She knew my answers.

Shifting in my seat and looking for another way out, I waded in further with “maybe I just need to step out of leadership for awhile.” That’s really what I was looking for. I was tired and feeling overwhelmed. My aggravations were simply providing the scapegoat.

An even bigger smile came on her face. For the next few moments I listened as she explained God’s work does not include a vacation plan. He may at times guide us to different areas of ministry but there is no scripture that indicates quitting as an option. Perseverance, she reminded me, is the choice of the one who has given all of their life to Christ.

I left her office with only a half-grin on my face, hanging my head, not sure whether I was defeated or inspired. “I’ll pray about it,” I promised as I exited the privacy of her generally cozy office. By the time I walked a few steps down the narrow isle between rows of cubicles, I knew she was speaking God’s truth to me and for me. I didn’t know how I would resume my role, but I knew perseverance was the route to go.

It’s been just a few months since that day and I am realizing that perseverance is not easy. And, it is very humbling when I have impudently voiced my opinions to the overseers of my work. At nearly 44 years old, I feel like a teenager who is learning a great deal from her discipline.

Bailing out would have been the easier path. And, I had good reason to do so, I thought. But my faith is not in the ministry leaders at a headquarters far away. My faith is in God who is right here with me. It is his work. I have gained wisdom and a few steps toward maturity because I am persevering. I’m not winning any disagreements. I’ve actually quieted down in my work. I’m learning perseverance is easier and the work more glorifying to God without a lot of noise from me.

Here's a few questions to help you determine who your faith is in.
  • Are you one who bails out or perseveres at the trials of ministry?

  • Do you spend time trying to convince other leaders that you are right and others are wrong?

  • Is your perspective as important to God as it is to you?

Now the big question. Are you willing quit running away and give up the fight for the sake of His purposes?

Perseverance is not comfortable but it is the only way to maturity in Christ and for that reason, you can consider it pure joy whenever you face trials of many kinds.

Lord Jesus, you are the author and perfecter of our faith. Thank you for giving wisdom generously, without finding fault. In those times of trials and testing, with our eyes fully on you, may we never doubt your guidance. Perfect our faith, O Lord, for the sake of your name.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Abortion, Freedom, and the Justice System

This post is a response to a Facebook forum discussion titled "Pro-Choice doesn't necessarily mean Pro-Abortion". You can read the posts at

After stating her personal conviction against abortion, the initial post stated, "I also believe in the sacrosanct right of Choice that the Good Lord has give each one of us when He gave us FREE WILL."

I agree that "pro-life" and "pro-choice" have become labels placing people on different sides of politics that may not be complete opposites. But freedom of choice from God is not political.

According to her argument, we should have the choice to drive in any way we desire, murder anyone we want, live absolutely self-absorbed lives without consequences from a system of government. God certainly gives us that kind of freedom of choice. And, I believe based on my personal experience and understanding of scripture, his justice system determines consequences now and for eternity at a level untouchable by human law.

The argument at hand is whether abortion should be legal. In much the same way as running a traffic light brings legal consequences, the question is whether we believe doctors should have no stop light in their practice of life and death.

The blogger states, "Freedom of choice is what gives us dignity and the possibility of earning merit as human beings. However, if there is nothing to choose on the plate, what good is power of choice for? We end up being like a bunch of sheep, each blindly following the tail of the one ahead! We become like mindless robots."

Interesting choice of words. I'm not going to be too rough on her because I know I have certainly made statements that sounded much different than I intended. But I will respond to these statements as they are worded.

Dignity does not come from having the freedom of choice. Dignity comes from what we do with that freedom. We do not earn merit as human beings, we are of great value and worth simply because we are human beings created by God out of his desire and love. My guess is that the blogger would agree with me if we were able to sit and discuss our statements in length.

Her indication that taking away the legal right to choose abortion is taking away our freedom of choice is a bit of a stretch. We obviously have choice in everything we do. I tell my kids I cannot make them do anything but I can provide the consequences for the action. This is the same for our legal system. Our prisons are full because people have a choice.

Her reference to sheep made me smile. That's really what it all comes down to. Who is our shepherd? I'll save that tangent for another blog. But for now, it's important to remember that our government is not our shepherd.

Whatever you believe on issues of abortion, war, health care, etc., our government should follow the desires of the people. That's democracy. That's the freedom our military men and women have fought for. Our government should never dictate the law based only on the louder voice nor on the government leaders' conscience of right and wrong. That is not democracy.

Our responsibility as citizens is to steer our governing representatives toward a life that is beneficial to all. United we stand, divided we fall. With reason and compassion for the common goal of unity, we should get to know our neighbors. Seeking first to listen, then be understood (I forget who said that) so that we bring about an existence that is best for everyone rather than preferred by some for a term of four years.

Those who want the best for all are spread throughout the political gamut and every segment of religious thought but we have to listen to each other far deeper than political "issues."

Our countries civil war should have destroyed all labels. Unfortunately, it seems we get rid of one set of labels only to move to another set which continues to divide and weaken rather than strengthening as unity would.

Imagine the country, the world, the life, we would have if everyone considered others better than themselves; if we quit trying to be equal to God and made ourselves nothing; if we woke up every morning with the desire to serve our neighbor, our co-worker, and even the strangers in our path. With that mindset, we do not become doormats. We become united in faith creating a world that is best for all of us. We extend the boundaries of heaven implementing His will on earth even as it is in heaven.

Let's get rid of labels and seek to be recognized as one nation where we act on our belief that all men (and women) are created equal. Whoever is elected, let's be united for the good of all. Instead of voicing complaints, voice solutions to your most available government leader along with discussing those solutions with your neighbors out of appreciation for the democracy we are blessed to have. Amazing things happen when we work together for the common good even at the most unseen levels of community.

You do have a choice regardless of any man-made laws. Labels, political parties, none of that really matters. The question is whose justice system do rely on for life?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Prayer Makes a Difference!

Prayer is not a monologue. Prayer is not a wish list. Prayer is a conversation with the Creator, seeking His heart. When we agree with his heart, he releases his power for us to experience tangibly.

Learn to pray effectively for your children. Visit

the mission:
PROCLAIM the good news; HEAL the sick and oppressed; BRING JUSTICE
~ Luke 4:16-20

Anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing (John 14:12)
~ Jesus 

Copyright 2005-2010 Lisa Biggs Crum
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