Tag Archives: psalm 23

They’re Entitled Little Snots? Maybe I am Too!

((Warning: the following may hurt some of your feelings. That’s tough. As a parent of the discussed generation, I can laugh as I write this. It is way over simplified and every person is unique.))

They have a pretty strong rep as selfish and entitled. One survey had 65% of Americans perceive this group as having an entitled attitude … expecting to land a job on graduation, demanding certain salary and perks, assuming flexibility at life, and that everyone should take care of them. College should be free, or at least someone should pay off the student loans, and they expect to be millionaires by 30.

Millennials. I really love them. And maybe there are contributing factors to them being perceived as entitled … 1/ helicopter parenting raising them as such (so tell my son it’s my fault), 2/ basic human nature that is selfish, 3/ a demand in new skill shifts in our society (kids having to program their parents phones, TVs, etc) that millennials have, 4/ a culture of ownership (LinkedIn, Netflix, and social media allows control of ones career, content consumption, and personal branding), and 5/ greater ability to adapt quickly.

But many of those are positive and could be said of any generation. So what’s the point here. I think we are all little snots in one way are another. At times, we all seem a little entitled. I know I have a little entitled attitude in me as well. As I read how God prepares a table before me, I could easily justify my attitude of entitlement, but I get rid of it just as quick.

God … prepares … a meal … for me

In Psalm 23.5, we see our personal, relational, providing God prepare a table for us. This is scary, humbling, and awesome.

God … who is so far above me, so infinite to my finiteness, so powerful to my weakness, so gracious to my selfishness, so holy to sinfulness. He takes the initiative. He shows patience and grace to this idiotic sheep who is prone to wander.

Prepares … the one who is worthy to be served, serves me. The one who could have had this all this done, He prepares – actively is getting it all done before me. I see my blessings are from Him. But then, all good things I have are from Him.

A meal … food, sustenance, and an act of hospitality. Now that we’ve gotten through the valley of danger, we have a feast laid out to enjoy in peace and protection. All our needs are taken care of.

For me … here is the place to remember our true place. We don’t deserve it, we can’t earn it, and we’ll never be able to pay Him back. We, me, used to be His enemies but are now His children. We who were far off are now brought back into fellowship. Here is where our entitled attitude gets adjusted. And that is grace, not something we deserve.

God … prepares … a meal … for me

So remember, no matter what generation you are from, God loves you and he prepares a meal for you. Say thank you and learn to appreciate it, not demand it.


For a fun vid clip on Millennials, watch this one done by Micah Tyler at Watermark Church.

A Change in Our Perspective

My son is learning a valuable lesson about marriage. They are still in their first year, but the pronoun use is adapting more and more. It of becoming less “her or me,” less “her’s or mine,” and more “us” and “ours.” There is that point that our mind just gets it.

Shepherd boy David, soon to be King David, in the middle of the 23rd Psalm, changes his point of view too. In verse 4, he goes from talking about God in the third person to talking to him in the second person. No longer “He makes” or “He leads” but now it is “You are with me.”

Why the change? One theologian said it this way …

We are more prone to talk about God when we are in the green pasture and more prone to cry out to God when we enter some fearful ravine.

John Piper

As we are reminded of in verse 2 and 3, he has to make us lie down in green pastures – and he restores us, sometimes from when we stray. We really get comfortable and often wander off from God in the good and cheery days.

But when life gets tough, we cling to Him. We draw close for strength, protection, mercy.

He is my God in the good times too. And we should draw close to Him there as well. But like David, sometimes it takes that hard time to really realize his presence.

So count it all joy when you encounter trails – for it just might change your perspective in a great way.

He Brings Back, Binds Up, and Builds Up

You might say he had one job – watch over the sheep. You might call him a baby sitter of four legged creatures. Sounds pretty simple. And in Psalm 23.2, he made them lie down in green pastures, he leads them beside still waters. As life goes, the sheep have it pretty good – rest, food, refreshing water. It sounds like a sweet life.

But sheep are wandering creatures. They roam around, and the next thing you know, they have strayed away from the flock and are lost. They may not even realize they are lost, but they are. So the good shepherd will secure the rest of the flock and come searching for the lost lamb and bring it back to where it is supposed to be. And he does this over and over for all his sheep. Not so easy a job after all.

And as if playing lost and found with straying sheep isn’t enough, he also has to take care of them when they get hurt or injured. Baby sitter, provider, seeker of the lost, and now, he has to be a doctor.

And in all of this, he is building up the sheep’s individual strength and the strength of the whole flock. So now he has to be a personal trainer to the sheep too. His job is not so easy.

In Psalm 23.3, we see that the shepherd … he restores our soul. Four simple words, only two words in the Hebrew. But wow.

  • He – our shepherd, our Lord, the God who loves and saves us
  • Restores – he renews, invigorates, empowers, brings life back to
  • Our – as individuals and as a flock, the ones prone to wander, prone to stray, fragile and wounded, and weary and worn
  • Soul – our nephesh … the very seat of our emotion, the heart of our desires, the core to our way of thinking and understanding … our life and all we are

He … Restores … Our … Soul

We have seen three ways this babysitter of sheep restores the souls of his sheep, or more clearly, how our Lord restores our soul …

  • He brings back the wanderers – he never leaves us to our straying, he never forgets or loses even one of us, we can never get outside of his love and care – he will bring us back
  • He binds up the wounded – in our hurts, pains, sorrows, brokenness, wounds (self inflicted or inflicted by others), and injuries, he will care for us, tend the wounds, heal our sickness – he will bind us up
  • He builds up the weak – he helps us get stronger and draws us closer together

Which of these do you need from our shepherd today? Are you wandering? Wounded? Weary? Do you need to come home, find restoration? Our Lord is the good shepherd and he can restore your very soul.

It is the Good Shepherd, then, who in restoring our souls – brings back the wanderer, binds up the wounded, and builds up the weak.

I am so glad I have that shepherd. Are you?

He Can’t “Make” Me Do Anything – or Can He?

Vegetables. They have their place. I know I make fun of them, a lot. But I have a special relationship with green things. Green is my favorite color after all.

However, there is one memory I have growing up that makes me get that nasty taste at the back of my mouth. My mother tried to “make” me eat asparagus. And I did my best to resist her.

There they were, three stalks of the apocalypse – my nemesis before me. And my mother laid it out, I must stay at that table until I eat those three evil creations grown in the depths of hades. I gawked, I rebelled, I complained, I cried, and … you get the picture. After almost 90 minutes, she whittled the number down to one, eat only one. I rolled it up in a piece of bread and tried to hide the taste. I took a bite.

And then …. and then … I threw up. Yep, spewed the ‘sparagus right on out. She sent me to my room. And I just like that, she never tried to “make” me eat veggies again.

In the 2nd verse of the 23rd Psalm, it says … He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters.

Wow, this sounds so relaxing, so calming, so serene. But do you see the first verb. He “makes” me. The verb means he causes us to do it, his actions bring it about in us. This might mean he “makes” me through enabling me or he “makes” me through enforcing me.

He enables – he takes away the fears, the friction, the reasons not to rest. He provides reasons to rest and relax. He provides green pastures where we feed and find our sustenance … which is found in His Word and in Him. And when our fill is full, we lie down. Maybe that’s why I like Sunday afternoon naps.

And … He enforces – He “makes” us lie down. Through discipline, through use of circumstances, and through sovereign control, he brings about what he desires in our life. We may fuss, squirm, cry, etc. but he “makes” us. No amount of vomiting sways his determination. A financial crisis to get us to trust, a pandemic to get us to slow down, a thorn in the flesh to get us to realize his grace is sufficient, or a wilderness experience to get our attention.

What will it take in your life for him to “make” you lie down and trust him?

He may not have caused this pandemic, but he sure might use it to “make” you slow down, focus on him, trust him, and find rest. He sure used it on me.

He Smells Like Sheep – and I am So Glad

It’s no secret I love books, both reading and collecting – all types. And I hate to say it, but I very often do judge a book by its cover. And when I saw this particular book, I gladly laid down my money. It was Lynn Anderson’s They Smell Like Sheep.

Here was a book on leadership, a book to let me know how to handle a flock of church goers, a book that would give me the ins and out of a congregation that was smelly, messy, and in desperate need of my guidance. And as a young pastor, this is exactly what I wanted.

But it is not what I got.

I got the ole switcharoo…

What I got was a book that told me how to behave, told me what I should be – a humble, servant-leader, and a caring type of pastor. I got a book with insight on changing me – not changing the sheep.

This is not the reason I bought the book – no sirree.

And when I learned what the title really meant, I wasn’t thrilled, not at all. For the “one who smelled like sheep,” to whom the title was referring, was not the sheep – but was the shepherd. A good shepherd smells like sheep.

He spends time with them. He hangs out and makes them his family. He pretty much lives with them. And the smell of the sheep comes to reside on him, his clothes, his very essence. The presence of the shepherd AMONG the sheep is the key to the leadership principles Anderson was getting across.

His very presence and provision and protection are promises to live by!

Me

Let me move this discussion to the role of the big Shepherd, our God, and we will see a powerful truth.

When I look at the first verse of Psalm 23, I see this very clearly. The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want. And he is not some shepherd way out there, ignoring the sheep, running everything from afar. Nope. He has promised to never leave or forsake us. He has promised He will be with us, always.

And there was a period of time He came physically amongst the sheep as well. He spent time, he ate, he walked, and without losing any of his deity, he also was fully human. I don’t grasp how he did this, I just know he did. He came down to be with His sheep – and now you could say he smells like sheep!

And He still is in our midst. The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want.

His very presence and provision and protection are promises to live by. Yes, He is on the throne, but He is also here among us. He is that Awesome. And because of that I can live in peace, I know he will take care of me, and I know I shall not want!

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want.

I’m glad my LORD, my shepherd , is in our midst. I thank him for loving us enough to live among his created humanity, and I am glad he knows me-understands me-faced life like I do-and still loves me. And he loves you too.

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want.

Thank you Lynn Anderson for showing me some powerful points on leadership. I sure misjudged your book on its cover, and I’m better for it. It hit me hard and I am glad.

This lesson hit me hard!

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want.

Do you know this? I hope so.


This week will be a brief look at the 23d Psalm. Check out each day‘s delightful insight.