Welcome and thanks for reading this journal. A few years ago I began writing essays about certain words that had become important to me in my spiritual life. I love to read, write, sing, and the arts in general while all of my adult life I have been a shepherd of people. At different times and for various purposes my title has changed somewhat, but really, for me, I have just always connected with David, the shepherd-psalmist. In David’s illustrious and at times infamous lifetime he wore many hats (or crowns as the case may be), but underneath them all was the soil of his beginning – shepherding. This truth was never more clear than when David the King of Israel was being corrected by the prophet of the Lord in II Samuel 7:8. There the Lord instructed Nathan to begin His rebuke like this, “Now therefore so shall you say to my servant David, Thus said the LORD of hosts, I took you from the sheepcote, from following the sheep, to be ruler over my people, over Israel.”
So, I’m essentially ok with that; I like taking care of people and things. People matter to me and I want them to be well and to do well, so whether I am called singer, soloist, preacher, bishop, Dr., prophet or apostle, I realize that these are just ways to better understand what a shepherd does – which is follow, protect, lead, feed, sheer, hold, comfort, live with, sing to and listen to… sheep. I don’t think that it is very useful to divert people’s attention from this essential function of life with God, which is to follow the Chief Shepherd and then lead the sheep that I’ve been assigned.
In professional ministry people often want to know what you’ve accomplished; how many years, how many churches, how big is the church, what style of ministry, etc. Sometimes I am tempted to reply, “well this month I’ve been removing a lot of thorns from the sheep’s feet. It seems some of them have been wandering off the beaten path and gotten into some briars in the underbrush.” Ever try to hold a fat, wiggly lamb still in your lap while you pull a thorn out of its foot? I’ve been the happiest though when I’ve stayed pretty close to those basic functions of sheep herding; it’s a respectable trade. It’s a covenant work, actually. The shepherd has a God-given skill and a calling to be a good steward over some sheep. It requires getting accustomed to one another; their bleating and the sound of my voice and the touch of my hand; the way I sing to them in the evening or in mid afternoon when the hot sun is high in the sky and we’ve come to a shaded valley near a spring of water. Sheep, care, watchfulness, rescue, healing, these and many more like them are the language of the covenant of a shepherd – Covenant Talk.
So, that’s what we do here. We don’t attempt to sell the reader a lot of glitz and life-changing ideas, but instead we just break open the husk of words and get inside of them, pop them in our mouths and see how they taste and feel and if they just might help us on our journey. After all, we’ve been reminded by David the shepherd, “Know that the LORD Himself is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.” Psalm 100:3
Those essays that I mentioned earlier, eventually became my first book and I just wanted to keep the discussion going. Feel free to comment – this is a table that we share. Glad to have you along.