The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. (Psalm 23:1)
When we hear of God as our Shepherd, the very common passage, Psalm 23:1, comes to mind. It is so common…we hear this verse or the reference of it in our homes and at Sunday School, and we see the imagery of it depicted in different forms. Regardless of it being a very common verse, I urge you to ponder and take a deeper look at God our Shepherd—Jehovah Rohi.
David wrote Psalm 23 based on his reflections and experiences as a shepherd. He realized that was exactly the relationship God had with him. The Amplified version reads, ‘The LORD is my Shepherd [to feed, to guide and to shield me], I shall not want.’ (Psalm 23:1).
Have you ever come across a person whose name seems to fit them perfectly? Take for example the Olympic gold medalist and fastest man in the world, Usain Bolt. Isn’t “Bolt” the perfect name for him?
Live long and you will notice that the examples are bountiful.
- Race car driver Scott Speed
- Singer Bill Medley
- TV gardener Bob Flowerdew
- Meteorologist Sarah Blizzard
Their names just seem to fit their characteristics perfectly!
Your name is a marker. Sometimes it ironically reflects your talent or job like those mentioned above while other times it simply marks your identity to a family—who you are and whose you are. Either way your name is significant and you will carry it with you for your lifetime.
Advent: Hope, Peace, Joy, Love and The Light of the World
With Advent candle lit, I sink comfortably into the corner of my sofa. A sip of coffee warms the room, soothing my nose with pumpkin spice. Wrapped in security, the blanket snuggles my chin, as I read the morning’s devotion. I am comfortable, safe and warm, and so are my children.
My imagination conjures up a different setting, facing war and devastation. In Jordan, where I was just a month ago, I remember gazing across the skyline from the rooftop of a three-story church building. I could see the mountains of Syria on the horizon, a place of torment for millions and still home for many living in fear.
HOPE: The First Week of Advent
“But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all people.’” Luke 2:10
Over 2,000 years after Christ’s birth, Amman, Jordan rests at the edge of unsettled tension. She borders Israel, Syria, Iraq and Saudi Arabia. East of the Jordan River, the Old Testament sites cities established as places of refuge. Providing asylum for millennia, Jordan is a sanctuary for many people fleeing today. In 2016, more than 50,000 Iraqi, 1.4 million Syrian, and 2 million Palestinian refugees call Jordan home.
There’s a funny saying we pass around at our office: “People build bridges.” When we face an obstacle that seems too big, a challenge too overwhelming, “people build bridges” reminds us that people are capable of extraordinary things . . .
But we always meant it as a metaphor.
Then this summer, I met some folks who really do build bridges—and no, they’re not engineers, not construction crews, and they don’t have dump-trucks and cranes. Rather, they’re rural farmers, everyday people facing tremendous obstacles, from persecuted churches in impoverished villages.
And their work has made a tremendous impact.
We often think about the relationship between the Apostle Paul and the New Testament churches as a one-way street. Paul’s impact on the churches is obvious, as his letters instruct them about God’s truths. But we don’t think the other way round, about how the churches impacted Paul’s life and ministry.
Recently, I had an opportunity to study Philippians. As I studied the core message and the context of this letter, I realized how much Paul’s success in ministry was dependent on the churches that he wrote to. I can see that these churches impacted his ministry greatly. That’s why, in all his letters, he commended them for such great support. In Philippians, he called that a partnership in the gospel. What does a true partnership look like? There are two elements— material support and prayer—and they go both ways.
When we think about community transformation in developing countries, what comes to mind is often NGOs, CBOs, INGOs and government work. This belief is strongly rooted in the Christian community as well. In countries like Nepal, India and Bangladesh, where Christianity is considered a minority group, we don’t have much significant influence with our community. We are heavily influenced by the idea that spiritual ministry only reaches as far as the four corners of the church building.
When we introduce TCT to church pastors and leaders, they often think we (RW) are bringing some kind of community transformation program. As they go through our training, they are surprised that we will not provide any money for doing community projects (what we call Acts of Love).
In our Voices Around the World posts, members of the RW team share what God is teaching them and what they are pondering. This month Bindu from the Ending Gendercide program has blessed us with an essay on oneness.
God dwells in the community of oneness. To be in oneness, more than one ‘unit’ is required. One cannot be united with just oneself. Christians worship God who is one, but who revealed Himself in three persons: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Thus the oneness of God is reflected in pluralities of persons. Three persons of the Godhead are united as one being.
A few weeks ago, I heard a sermon on Saul’s conversion to Paul in Acts 9:1-18; 22:4-16. While I was amazed by God’s power to transform a person like Saul and that no one is too far from God’s reach, I was struck by another person and his contribution in this story. What he did is something that I often overlook. But he played a rather significant role in God’s plan and indirectly impacted so many people.
You can probably guess who I am referring to as there are only two main people in this passage, Saul/Paul and Ananias. For sure, every Christian is inspired by Paul’s life and I am no exception. We are named and name our children after Paul but, sorry Paul, it’s not you this time. Now you know who I am talking about. Bravo! It’s Ananias. We don’t have much detail about Ananias’ life besides that he was a disciple in Damascus, a devout man according to the Law and well spoken of by all the Jews there (Acts 22:12). But one thing we know is that he was the first person to pray for Paul to receive Jesus.
Back in the day if you wanted to watch a TV show, you actually had to tune in at a specific time if you wanted to see the latest episode. There was no DVR or Netflix or Hulu. And if you were late in tuning in, you could easily get lost — Wait, what just happened? What did I miss? Why is that guy wearing the goggles shooting everyone? Who are the good guys and who are the bad guys?
It’s very confusing. Seriously, just try walking into a movie 30 minutes late and try to understand the story. Good luck…
Christians do this all the time. We don’t understand the Story. We walk into the movie 30 minutes late and wonder why things don’t make sense.
This voices from around the world comes to you from the director of In His Image.
I was at a meeting when a pastor asked me about my family. As I shared about both my children, as well as the special needs of my family, his response was “How does your other child feel about the special needs child?” I was pleasantly surprised. It was a question hardly anyone ever puts to me.
The sibling of a special needs child is somehow expected to be really understanding. When mothers are busy caring for the needs of their sibling, they are expected to gently wait, to help out, to tend to them. They have to be forever understanding, and are not even allowed the liberty of having a routine sibling rivalry. Because their siblings needs are ‘more’, they often feel guilty for wanting attention too. We expect the siblings to have perfect love–kind, gentle, never jealous–but they too are children with needs and wishes. I know a child who used to get into trouble if he asked for his favorite food to be made, but when the special needs child asked for it, it was done immediately. He was expected to always understand why he would always stand second place to his sibling. Little did the family realise that the child was getting resentful of his sibling.
Each member of the family is impacted by the disability of a child in the home. Each member may react in a different way. When we as parents are devastated, hearing that our child is different, we generally do not think about the other child who is also devastated by it. His/her life will be changed forever. Even as we struggle to cope with a special needs diagnosis, parents must consider our other children, who may not know how to react, may not understand what is going on, and may sometimes even blame themselves.