Saturday, May 25, 2013

Lesson: The King Returns to Live with His People

I John 3:1-3.
I.  The Apostolic writers took the second coming, the "consummation," for granted.  The subject pops up everywhere in their writing, even when we wouldn't expect it.  They missed Jesus; they expected him back any minute.
A.  "when he is revealed" - interesting the John also wrote revelation.
1.  this phrase makes us understand that it is as if Jesus was masked in the incarnation and they only were allowed to see so much (except the three during the transfiguration), but in the end, we will have revealed to us the fullness of Jesus' character, of who he is. We get stuck on our  own personal version or vision of Jesus (see other post).
2.  We will "see him as is is, not was or will be, but is. 
B. As children of God, we live in a tension.
1.  in the world, but not known by it, not understood by it
2.  in the world in terms of responsibilities, but ot of it..
3.  already but not yet.
4.  knowing a little but not a whole lot.  We see through a glass darkly I Corinthians 13.
5.  hopeful, but at different levels for each person.
C.  "What manner of love has the Father bestowed on us . . . " John is called the apostle of love.  Refer to I John 4:12-21.  In this context we are challenged to think about the second coming in terms of God's love rather than God's justice.
1.  I always think about it as vindication, the world getting its punishment for its rebellion.  But if God is love, the consummation may be about love as much as or more than about justice.  As the lesson title says, "The King returns to live with his people."
2. What does consummation mean?
a.  A consuming, as in the world will be consumed by fire.
b.  the end, the finish, the completion.  Psl. 119:96
c.  love making to complete a marriage
3.  When you think about the consummation, which is more the second coming, do you think of
a  drama (as in Tim LaHaye/Jerry Jenkins books) or quick end.
b.  end or beginning?
c.  trial before God or freedom from condemnation (Romans 5:1)
d.  tribulation or heaven (because you have been raptured)?
e.  fact (it just is, it's going to happen but it has no bearing on my life) or reality (it matters to what I do today)?
f.  hope or question mark (truly will happen but I just don't know)
g.  come quickly or not yet?
B.  What does the truth of the consummation do for and to you?
1.  He who has this hope in purifies himself, even as (Christ) is pure.
2.  Hope.  It's been 2000 years.  What does Peter say about this?  2 Peter 3.
3.  Purify.  Purity means nothing that doesn't belong is in the mix.  What doesn't belong in us?  Fear, anger, lust, wanting for no reason, materialism, security blankets.  Only you can answer that.
4.  We are being made through sanctification to be Christlike.  We do not do it to ourselves.  "Be ye transformed" "He who began a good work in you will perform it"  "You are being conformed."  This is passive voice.  We only can make a space for it to happen in our lives.
Considering what is coming and that we will be there for eternity, what can we purify out of our lives that will prepare us for then?

Nice link:  What won't be in heaven:  http://fervr.net/bible/50-things-that-wont-be-in-heaven




Friday, May 24, 2013

Liberalism fallen on hard times

Why does it seem that liberalism has become a personality cult around Barack Obama?

I am going to say something here that will be shocking.  Conservativism is the worship of dead liberals.  We like them because they are dead, and because their ideas have stood the test of time--but we wouldn't have liked them at the time.

Liberalism is an important tradition in our country's history.  Now, that kind of is an oxymoron (a liberal tradition), but liberalism in the late 1700s and early 1800s was important and we wouldn't be here without it.  Progressivism, on the other hand, is a different matter for a different post.  See Jonah Goldberg's book on that subject. 

But the liberalism of the early 1960s has fallen on hard times.  It is knee-jerk; it is both about more rights and fewer rights; it's about more government intrusion into our all parts of our lives except our genitals; it is fixated with defending Obama, no matter what he does; it lacks any kind of moral compass. 

Post 1002: Something secular: Hunger Games

I finally watched THE HUNGER GAMES last night on Netflix.  I thought it was a pretty good adaptation of the book; all adaptations will leave some fans unhappy.  I'm not that addicted to the books, although I am reading the last one and have about 100 pages.

I had put off watching the movie because of the violence toward children.  It wasn't as bad as I expected; the children who did the killing were mostly adults anyway (and played by them).  The book and movie are not realism, but a type of science fiction, so judging it based on realism, or saying the acting wasn't realistic, seems kind of silly.  What matters to me here are the visual aspects and storytelling, which were satisfying.

I am not as into the third book because I think making Katniss a Terminator soldier is a bit much.  I am also not sure she is changing or developing.  Will Katniss be any different from the one on the first page of the first novel?  Interesting question to debate. 

Post 1001: Visions of Jesus

I'm blogging today, and I just finished my 1000th post.  This is 1001.  I'll do one more and take a break.  My husband is out of town and I have the house to myself, so it's quiet and I can read.  I should clean but reading is so much more appealing.

This post is about the group Red Letter Christians.  Well, not really.  It's about the our conceptions of Jesus.  We all have a mental picture of Jesus, whether we will admit to it or not, that comes most readily, perhaps first, to our minds when we hear the referent "Jesus."  Some see a baby or little boy.  This speaks to Jesus as incarnate, one of us (like a slob on a bus, as the song goes, pretty irreverently, but I imagine Jesus would have ridden a bus before a limousine or before buying a Mercedes or even a Honda Civic).  Some see him as healer and miracle worker.  Some see him as teacher, doing the Socratic thing with the twelve.  Some see him as "angry Jesus," which to me reflects that one views him as not quite right in some way.  Some see him as gentle Jesus, with children on his knees or like the typical picture, sheep in his arms.  (He was a stone mason in real life, not a shepherd--that is an analogy he made, not a statement about his profession.)  Some see him on the cross;  some see him in a white robe and blue sash after the resurrection.  Some see him in heaven as the eternal Son of God; some see him as the triumphant warrior on a white horse, slashing away.

If this all seems a little harsh, please forgive.  All of these are true pictures of Jesus yet at the same time limited and perhaps marred because they are limited.  They are limited because we can't, or won't see all of them at once, won't see Jesus as truly complex as he is and as not a projection of what we want him to be.  Mr. Nice Guy.  Mr. Rambo. Mr. Sacrifice.  Mr. Triumphant.  I think evangelicals tend to see him on the cross and outside the tomb, because they define everything he did in terms of our salvation or spiritual experience (hey, it's all about me!)

So, back to Red Letter Christians.  Their version of Jesus is the teacher, I think, who because he never said anything about certain subjects--same-sex marriage, abortion, politics--but who did feed the poor and help the afflicted, we should conclude that that is the complete Jesus and the complete will of God.  And further, we should conclude that same-sex marriage is ok, that abortion should be legal, and that only left-leaning politics are legitimate.  Strange thinking, for my part--quite a leap.  Not that I disrespect Campolo; I think he's a good man, and we do need a counterbalance to the extremes of the religious right and how the church has been co-opted cynically by some of the Republican party.  But some of the followers of Red Letter Christian leave me scratching my head or just plain angry. 

When tempted to see one Jesus, turn your head.  See him, not your limited version of him.

Perfectionism

Speaker on the radio talking about her raging perfectionism got me thinking.   Are we really perfectionists?  No, we suffer from limited vision.  We are only perfectionists about what we see, can control.  If we were really perfectionists (and I'm not sure I fit that category anyway--my house doesn't reflect it, nor my office, nor my looks), we couldn't live in the world; we would have to be medicated or blindfolded or never be able to listen to the news or hear prayer requests.  The world is so broken, so in disarray (yet still so fascinating and wonderful, I have to add, still marked with the beauty of the original creation) that if we were perfectionists we would explode in an hour or less in trying to set it right.

I think what people call perfectionism is a mixture of control, pride, limited vision, legalism, fear, and lack of faith.  I think calling it perfectionism gives it dignity it doesn't deserve.  In regard to the first sentence in this paragraph, I am guilty of perfectionism, because I am guilty of all those behaviors.

The visiting professor I mentioned in the post "Adult Education and Spiritual Transformation" used a term I like:  "psychic pampers."  The idea is that we try to cover ourselves with masks or clothes or other things that supposedly cover what's really inside but it all comes squishing out anyway (like a baby severely needing a diaper change!)  One student said that sounded like the name of a band!  So what I might want to call perfectionism is probably not seen as that by others and is probably seen more as what it is.  In the case of a colleague, I could describe him/her as perfectionistic, but what I really see is a deep-seated, tragic anger, the source of which I have a suspicion about but would never state publicly.

So let's stop looking at our perfectionism and start looking at the perfect one, the one who can look at the world fully and not have his head explode, the one who has all power when we have so little, despite our rhetoric and claims to the contrary. 

Adult Education and Spiritual Transformation

In the Ed.D. program I am pursuing, it is an interesting, sometimes baffling, mixture of touchy-feely procedures and hard core empiricism.  That is ultimately a good thing, although I have had some trouble fitting into both categories at once.  I can do positivistic social sciences thinking; that's what my first master's was immersed in.  I can do liberal arts, reflective, hermeneutical thinking; that's the second master's.  But doing them at the same time is another matter. 

Our goal is an action research project (dissertation), which I think it is fair to say we are struggling with.  I have sent a draft of the prospectus to my advisor, but I was dissatisfied with it as soon as I hit the SEND button.  How nice it would be to retrieve emails before they are read!  No such luck.

In class last Saturday we had a guest speaker, whom I will not name.  He was interesting, and I hope to read his book one day (it's not exactly a best seller on Amazon, but based on his presentation I think it would be worthwhile).  He took us through a LEARNING PATHWAYS GRID using the professor's case, which was projected on the screen.  I am glad she volunteered to be a guinea pig or lab rat rather than we, because I think we would have been uncomfortable.  I am not crazy about people getting into my head and trying to figure out my motives and "theories-in-use."  That's my business.  As I have written before, it is hard enough to understand one's assumptions and "theories-in-use."  If someone can get to that point of honestly confronting those, he/she can probably leave off trying to change them to another day.  I think the change part is harder than it looks, which is the point of this post.

Anyway, we went through the six steps of the LEARNING PATHWAYS GRID:  desired outcomes, actual outcomes, actions, frames, adjusted beliefs,  and desired actions.  I watched more than anything, although some of the students seemed very engaged with picking the prof's brain and case and personality apart, and some things were said that shocked me.  That kind of brutal honesty is, well, awkward to say the least.  The case itself was a less-than-thirty-second snippet of conversation the professor had had with a supervisor years ago. 

But what I found most interesting is that the professor said, "I am still struggling with this same behavior after fifteen years."

What?  All this mind-opening and transformational learning methodology and nothing is changing?  Why go through these exercises if nothing changes?  Why search delicately and bluntly through one's assumptions, values, real beliefs if nothing changes?  I assumed that having more productive behavior is the point of all this soul-searching.

The visiting prof did explain that these behaviors are so deep-seated that they take along time to change, and that what the grid, and other methodologies can do (like action science) is give the user a bigger repertoire of options for behavior (I would say communication behaviors, primarily) and more self-awareness when we find ourselves in similar situations.

Fair enough.  But is that the best we can hope for?  This whole incident got me thinking about adult education and spiritual transformation.  My first response was, "These people need Jesus," but that is too facile, a cliche, like the old bumpersticker, "Jesus is the Answer."  In the words of J. Vernon McGee, "But what's the question?"  However, I stand by the first response in spirit.  We need Jesus. 

And this is not to say that the sin in ourselves, that so easily besets us (and make no mistake, in this professor's life it was an issue of pride, just as my opinionation  and bluntness is a matter of pride), will disappear as soon as we yield to Jesus' control in our lives.  No such promise is given, despite all the gospel songs that seem to guarantee some new personality after conversion. 

The issue is that we do get growth because we are not dependent on purely internal sources, on our will, our own understanding, our own insights.  We need an external source.  To reject the external source of Christ's death and resurrection, the Father's love, and the Holy Spirit's power, is to continue in the sin that is the core in the first place, pride and self-addiction.  To keep depending on self-searching to change ourselves is a cyclical madness, really. 

I just looked at the few plants in my pathetic garden plot.  I finally got them in:  four tomatoes, four rows of half-runner beans, four green pepper plants, six okra stalks (well, that will come in August; right now the okra, which is a fun plant to grow, is only a couple of inches high).  We have had an abundance of rain this spring, I was late getting the garden in (due to doctoral work!), and it's been cool and not as sunny as tomatoes need.  But everything is growing (I understand the origin of the Jack and Beanstalk story now--beans really come up quickly--edible kudzu).  I have already staked everything.  I look forward to some produce, although it's all a hobby, not a serious attempt at food supply.

However, my good intentions, research, and soul-searching about my garden won't matter if the weather stays cloudy and cool all summer (which would be a nice change from last year's drought) or if we get a month of 95 degrees and no rain.  The external sources of energy and nutrition for the garden matter; the soil, no matter how fertile, and the plants, no matter how healthy, do not exist in a vacuum.

The feeble analogy has a point.  We need external sources of spiritual power to have transformative spiritual learning, and that means we must be open to it and at the same time submissive to it--it being the intervention of God in our lives, and that includes our understanding of who God is.  (see next post).

Can I say I am any better than my professor?  Of course not.  I know that my own introspective exercises have a type of wisdom but not a liberating one, because they give us no way out, no escape from our own vicious cycles and patterns of self-addicted behavior.  In my case, responding defensively to so much of what my husband says and not listening--not listening to people in general, always having a smart or intellectual or one-up comment or comeback, always being the knowledgeable one, the expert, orating and lecturing instead of shutting up. 

Of course, all of this is about a totally God-centered world view, which is not adopted over night.  Also, God's method of this spiritual growth (I prefer that to transformation, which only happens ultimately, not everyday) is to use trials, but only if we can make meaning of those trials or "disorienting dilemmas," to quote Mezirow.  Trials are said to make us better or bitter; I disagree.  They can also make us baffled and bemused.


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Wanting, part 2

Yesterday I wrote about "The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want" and the tension between wanting more experiences with God and not lacking.  Mark Galli writes in today's CT column:

I believe there is yet another reason we're fascinated with divine encounters: our boredom with the life God has given us.
Instead of a life of experience, Christ calls us to a life of love. And a life of love for the most part means attending to the tedious details of others' lives, and serving them in sacrificial ways that most days feels, well, not exciting at all. Rather than sweeping the kitchen, cleaning the toilet, listening to the talkative and boring neighbor, slopping eggs onto a plate at the homeless shelter, or crunching numbers for another eight hours at the office—surely life is meant for more than this. We are tempted to wonder, Is that all there is to the "abundant" Christian life? Shouldn't my life be more adventurous if God is in me and all around me? How am I going to be all I'm supposed to be if I have to empty bedpans in Peoria? I would just die if I had to do that.
Yes, you would. Jesus called it dying to self. Love is precisely denying the self that wants to glory in experience. The cost of discipleship most of us are asked to pay is to live the life God has given us, serving in mundane ways the people he has put in our path. To be free from the self and to discover such love is the essence of abundant life."

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Song lyrics ad infinitum

Why do we remember song lyrics even when we haven't heard them that much and even when we don't want to?  Why can't I remember Hamlet's soliloquies the way I remember the words to "Gilligan's Island" or "Mr. Ed" theme songs?

Yesterday I turned on the local pbs station and heard a raspy voice singing the words to MacArthur Park--which I remembered! (at least the chorus). 
Spring was never waiting for us, girl It ran one step ahead As we followed in the dance
Between the parted pages And were pressed in love's hot, fevered iron Like a striped pair of pants
MacArthur's Park is melting in the dark All the sweet, green icing flowing down Someone left the cake out in the rain
I don't think that I can take it 'Cause it took so long to bake it And I'll never have that recipe again, oh no
I recall the yellow cotton dress Foaming like a wave On the ground around your knees The birds like tender babies in your hands And the old men playing checkers, by the trees
MacArthur's Park is melting in the dark All the sweet, green icing flowing down Someone left the cake out in the rain
I don't think that I can take it 'Cause it took so long to bake it And I'll never have that recipe again, oh no
There will be another song for me For I will sing it There will be another dream for me Someone will bring it
I will drink the wine while it is warm And never let you catch me looking at the sun And after all the loves of my life After all the loves of my life, you'll still be the one
I will take my life into my hands and I will use it I will win the worship in their eyes and I will lose it I will have the things that I desire And my passion flow like rivers through the sky
And after all the loves of my life Oh, after all the loves of my life I'll be thinking of you and wondering why
MacArthur's Park is melting in the dark All the sweet, green icing flowing down Someone left the cake out in the rain
I don't think that I can take it 'Cause it took so long to bake it And I'll never have that recipe again Oh no, oh no, no, no, oh no


Ah, the profundity!  I read about these words on Wikipedia and found out that Dave Barry did a poll and found it the most hated song in the world. I wouldn't go that far, but I always thought it had something to do with drugs, psychodelic ones to be specific.  Not so, just a sappy "losing my love" song.

Words to most pop songs, even those from my childhood, are as immoral, hedonistic, and borderline mentally ill as one can imagine.  Billy Joel's "The Good Die Young" is blasphemy against the Catholic Church.  "If you can't be with the one you love, love the one you're with."  I could go on.  Yet there are all up there in my head, and they come to the surface very fast!

Wanting

Yesterday I posted an entry about the Shepherd/sheep relationship portrayed in the Bible.  It got me thinking about wanting.

"The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want."  Or in Spanish, El Senor es mi pastor; no me faltara (accents missing).  The Spanish makes it clearer--I will not lack.  Nothing will lack to me, literally, although there really isn't an object grammatically.  I shall not want, not "I shall not want for food, for housing, for whatever."  I shall not lack. 

We not only don't lack; ideally, we are happy that we don't lack.

Contentment is something we Americans are, at best, ambivalent about.  The Christian and post-Christian thought in us says be content with the blessing you have, but our economic system says that contentment is a sin, in a sense.  It keeps us from buying, and we need buying to keep up our system--to ensure jobs, to see economic growth.  After 9/11 we were told the most patriotic thing to do was spend money, especially on big ticket items (appliances, cars). 

I have also heard many sermons on wanting more in the Christian life, wanting a closer walk with God, wanting more intimacy, wanting this or that spiritual blessing.  I find myself equally ambivalent about those sermons.  Why not be content with the closeness to God we have, assuming we are not living disobediently?  Are we looking for an experience or emotional high that needs continual upping? 

I used to think of prayer totally in terms of discipline.  I no longer do; I try to think of it purely as dependence. 

Wanting is insidious.  I wanted a back door so I could enjoy my back porch this summer.  I now have it and I have gone to something else to want.

Recent Scandals

The Obama administration is (finally) having to answer questions about the IRS targetting conservatives, Benghazi, Justice Department peccadilloes, and other matters.

All I can say it, Keep it coming.

The more scandal prone they are, the less they can get done.

Obviously, not a fan. 

A key issue is the role of government.  We had a gentleman in our writers' group who defended government, since the U.S. government, in his life, had done much good--whipped the Depression, the Nazis, and the Japanese, built a great interstate system, helped the poor, brought (slowly) civil rights to African Americans.  I saw his point.  I am not one to say "Government is the problem."  Good government is a biblical mandate.  But the U.S. government, sometime in the '70s, way overreached, creating a dependent, stupid, sheeplike class.  Our only hope is to suffer and wake up through the suffering.  I have been pretty low-income and can give up a lot.

Armadillos in Catoosa County

A few years ago, a social work professor at my college was telling me that armadillos were coming into our region, a proof of global warming.  At the time I was skeptical about global warming, which is now called climate change, but that skepticism is, I must admit, slowly eroding.  I have lived a long time, in two distinct regions of the country, and in my life I have seen differences in "weather patterns" which I  know, I know, is not the same as climate.  What I see is more extreme weather more than continuously hot or cold weather.

This morning the temperature was 46 degrees.  It is beautiful outside for mid-May anywhere, especially here, because by now the the afternoons can be very hot.  It will be in the 80s today, maybe.  I am enjoying the cool spring, and we've had enough rain to protect against a drought, at least for a while.  I finally put in my garden, four rows of beans, six okra plants, four peppers, and four tomatoes.  My husband is putting in a storm door to the back porch, my mother's day present, so I can enjoy my small back yard which is almost entirely secluded now because of the overgrowth over the years of trees.  The mornings can be pleasanter, if I rise early.

But yesterday I saw some unusual roadkill.  It was not a beaver or a ground squirrel or hedgehog.  It was clearly, unmistakably an armadillo, and as I have seen a great deal of roadkill in Catoosa County (mostly possums and squirrels and rabbits), this struck me.  Could it be that the warming climate has allowed them to come north?  Or has someone brought them here, as they have coyotes (by hunt clubs looking for an alternative to wolves?)

According to Wikipedia (again, I know, I know, it's not an academic source)

One species, the nine-banded armadillo, (Dasypus novemcinctus), is found in the United States, primarily in the south-central states (notably Texas), but with a range that extends as far east as South Carolina and Florida, and as far north as Nebraska and midwestern Kansas. Their range has consistently expanded in North America over the last century due to a lack of natural predators. They have been found as far north as southern Illinois.


So, is it the climate or lack of predators (again, lack of wolves and  wildcats)?

It is not popular for conservatives to talk about the environment, but I do not consider myself a staunch conservative  when it comes to the environment.  The problem, of course, is not that there is climate change; the problem is why and what can be done about it?  The easy answer--use less fossil fuels--sounds good but unless they stop industrializing in India, Brazil, and China, we can make all the sacrifices we want and it won't matter.  And a story from the AP today shows that windmills (windfarms) kill more birds than electrical wires, gas and oil wells, even endangered species.   Do we trade one ecological evil for another?  

I believe in creation care, but it is just an academic point until the American people search for a way to be less wasteful of water, air, gas, food, and animals. 

Monday, May 13, 2013

Random Thoughts

When your friends' children are young and in elementary school, you get asked to buy candles and gifts for fundraisers.
When they get older, you get asked to sponsor them for mission trips.

I am always amazed by the search terms that lead to this blog.  The majority of them are about communication studies or Kallman's syndrome.  But one yesterday was about the execution of Barbara Graham in the gas chamber in California back in the '50s, about which a great movie, I Want to Live, was made with Susan Hayward (always played the tough chick).  My maiden name is Barbara Graham, hence the Barbara Graham Tucker.

When I am home during school breaks, and working at home, my husband turns on ESPN in the morning and I get to hear, at least twice, Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bailess argue.  And argue.  And argue.  What is the draw with these two?  Why do they merit a TV show?  Do people just watch them to get angry and aggressive?  Lebron James, Tiger Woods, Kevin Durant........ ad infinitum.  Stephen A (as Skip calls him, and I can't tell if he's being snarky or respectful or if that's just the dude's name) defends Tiger Woods at every turn--which puts him in the doghouse for me.  If Tiger were a mass murdere, Stephen A would find a way to defend him.  Skip parses every word, reminding me of an English professor explicating a poem.  And they are on twice every day. 


Silver Linings Playbook

Because of my doctoral work, I have given off movies, but last week on a day of torrential rain, I went to see the above mentioned movie because, well, because it was only three dollars, I had finished a big project, I wanted to see Jennifer Lawrence in a different role from "Winter's Bone" (great movie) and I had heard it was good.

It is.  Mainly for me, it is an honest portrayal of bipolar disorder.  At one point the main character, Pat, says, "all my life I just whiteknuckled it, but now I know what's wrong."  I saw that with my husband.  Pat does so many things in this movie that I have watched and lived through that it was like watching my own life.  The movie walks the line between playing the mental illness for tears and playing it for laughs.  We are allowed to have empathy for the characters but also know we wouldn't want to live with them!  Of course, the characters look too good, but hey, it's Hollywood.  No ugly people allowed.  Yeah, the bet part was a big overdone, but I overlooked it. 

John Adams

A friend gave me the three-CD set of the HBO series, John Adams, a couple of months ago.  I finally was able last week to watch it.  It was phenomenal.  I learned--or relearned--so much, and was very moved by it.  I highly recommend it, but not all at one sitting.  Be prepared for the rawness of life in the late 1700s.

We have sanitized history so much that our first reaction to this story of our second president might cause one to respond with "they got this wrong" but David McCullough was in on the production to make sure all the facts were right.  Jefferson is more revolutionary than people think today (I knew he was), and Adams wants a strong federal government.  Hamilton wants an even stronger one and pushes Washington to get it.  Hamilton and Jefferson "intrigue," as Adams calls it, to get him elected and then unelected in 1800.  Abigail Adams is amazed that Washington serves only two terms "when he could have been president for life," signifying I think that that was expected and he set the two-term limit (until FDR, who didn't lack for hutzpah).  It made me want to study the Federalist Papers and read biographies. 

We also do not realize how fragile the first thirty or so years of our history were.  It is also interesting that Adams and Jefferson died on the same day, July 4, 1826--50 years after the signing.  That could not be an accident, but some kind of providence. 

History is a foreign country--they do things differently there.  One of my favorite quotes. 

The Shepherd-Sheep Relationship



This is the outline for a lesson I taught yesterday.  I should say that I adhere strictly to a grammatical-literary genre-historical interpretation of the Bible.  I do not do character studies (except about God), nor do I use any kind of allegorical interpretation.  If it isn't clearly being taught in the meaning of the text, I don't go thee.

1.     Jesus is the Good Shepherd
a.    He affiliates himself with King David.
b.    He affiliates himself with the lowly (shepherds were of the lowest class.  At the manger, who visits?  The shepherds and the Magi.
c.    He affiliates himself with LORD in the Old Testament (I do not write the transliterated name for God; the Jews did not speak it, so why should we?).
d.    He explains his relationship with us here and in Psalms 23.
e.    There was a history of bad shepherds in Israel that is part of the mindset of the Jewish people listening to this.  Ezekiel 34

2.     If Jesus is the Shepherd, that makes us the sheep.  So—

a.    We are not as smart as we think we are.
b.    We follow the crowd.  When I log on to read my Yahoo email, they get me all the time on the the "What's trending now" portion.  Like everyone else, I find myself checking out some tidbit, despite knowing better!
c.    We need saving because we have all gone astray.  Is. 53:6, Luke 15
d.    We need guidance and care and are only satisfied when it's there.      Ps. 23

3.     Jesus is the sacrificial Lamb as well as the Good Shepherd (pastor) who gives himself for the sheep.
a.    Hebrews 13:20
b.    Is. 40:10-12.  This passage juxtaposes the gentle shepherd Jesus with a lamb in his arms with the victorious Jesus.  We don't get to choose which one we believe in. 
c.    I Peter 2:22-25.  Peter's paraphrase of Isaiah 53. 

4.     The pastors are undershepherds who are given the great responsibility for the spiritual care and feeding of the people of God.
a.     John 21:15-17 
b.    I Tim. 4:11-16
c.    I Peter 5:1-4

Walking points: 
What is our relationship to the Good Shepherd, in light of these verses?  When Psalm 23 says "I shall not want" it doesn't just mean that our needs will be met, but that we are content in our needs being met.  If you can find it, the classic A Shepherd Looks at the 23rd Psalm is a must read.

How do we view our pastors?  As CEOs?  Celebrities?  Cult leaders?  Supermen?  Adversaries?  Shepherds?  

Do pastors see themselves as shepherds in this day of megachurches? 

How to Fight November

I realized a few years ago that when the time changed in the November it began a four-month battle for me. Well, I should say seven weeks, r...