"If you’ve raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? If you stumble in safe country, how will you manage in thickets by the Jordan?" (Jeremiah 12:5). Our journey is intended to be more than simply "stumbling" through the days while the world "wears us out.” We are made to experience the thrill of "running with horses” and to navigate life amongst the "thickets." The RWH blog focuses on both the spiritual race of which Jeremiah speaks, and the physical act of running that I absolutely love. In short, it's where "the miles meet the Message" to provide insight, perspective & encouragement that might enable you & I to successfully run either of the races set before us. May our course be purposeful and may we be passionate in our pursuit of the abundant life He desires for us.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

I am NOT a Shepherd .... but I did sleep at a Holiday Inn Express last week! (John 10)

Despite the fact that most of my adult years have been relatively void of the "life on the farm" experience, I am not exactly ignorant of life in the country.  As kids, my brother and I routinely fed our Paw Paw's longhorn cattle and rode the family horses on a regular basis, (in fact, Warrior will always be my favorite four legged friend). Throw in the ducks, dogs, rabbits, catfish, hamsters, and you get the idea, I've had my share of animal care. That said, I am not sure I have ever  been within 10 feet of a sheep.  Outside of my sweater collection, I just don't know that much about them.

This week we are looking at the passage in John 10 where Jesus describes himself as the Good Shepherd.  In doing so, He uses many references which first century audiences would have fully understood.  Shepherding was a very common occupation, playing a significant role in these early communities.  So when Christ spoke to "the gate", "the thieves", "the hired hands", the context was very clear.  This Thursday night we'll talk about how these sheep pens were established and how the shepherd literally would lay down at the gate as a protector and "gate keeper."  The connection will demonstrate Christ's love for His sheep and willingness to lay down His life for those that belong to Him.

So, back to my admitted lack of sheep knowledge.  Of the many facts I have learned on the subject, the most intriguing has been how voice recognition was such a vital tool to the shepherd.  It seems that many studies have attempted to "trick" sheep by way of altering appearance, commands, smells and even accents of the shepherds, only to discover that sheep recognize their shepherd by the sound of their voice.  Not that much unlike a dog or other domesticated animal, however, what makes this trait so amazing is the ability a shepherd has in culling out hundreds of sheep from large community herds.  Those that know his voice come to him, those that do not recognize it make no attempt to follow.  Reflect on that this week and we'll see you Thursday night.  Have a great one. 

John 10:3-5  "The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.”

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