#3 – Keeping The Main Thing the main thing

The third prayer request I would add ties to yesterday’s post http://www.laurareimer.net/?p=5177 …distractions that pull me away from the purpose God intended.

Oh…and please note…I realized I have been calling the dog “he” and she’s a she….so thank you very much WordPress for your editing feature…

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As Phillip Keller develops the idea of the problem arising from the blackbirds drawing his sheep dog away, often the animal was not a bit sorry for the wasted time.

In fact, Keller writes that the dog often seemed to be quite pleased as she fell into a heap after a good chase.

He realized that to her, the whole thing had been quite entertaining.

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And again, he draws a comparison to the community of faith.

He writes:

Without being unduly critical it is essential for each of us to examine our own lives and ascertain what diverts us from the highest duties to which God calls us as His coworkers.

Within the community of our churches it is often the temptation to entertain rather than edify God’s people. It is the desire to amuse audiences rather than instruct them in God’s Word.” *

I understand this struggle.

I love very much to make people laugh.

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I love it when what I say strikes a cord of agreement.

It is a wonderful thing to hear that what I have said or written has encouraged someone.

But it is a great temptation to move from exhortation to entertainment.

It is a great temptation to begin to seek ways to delight listeners and readers instead of seeking to be a vessel for what God would like shared.

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I particularly appreciate the admonition of this gentle author when he reminds me that there is room for me to make you smile some days…to share some of the funny and tender parts of the journey.

Sharing God’s story of what He is doing in our lives doesn’t have to be boring…but when we our desire moves from the Gospel to how we can amuse people…we have lost sight of The Main Thing.

And so I have added to my prayers, this simple request for Day 3:

Oh Father God, You have made me and wired me and You know me better than I know myself. You know how easily I can forget what You have called me to do and lose sight of speaking the truth of Your Word to encourage others. Lord, thank You that I can share Your instruction in the unique ways You have given me, but keep me honest before You when I start to steer away from the deep waters of encouragement into the shallow pools of entertainment.  Lead me deeper still into Your Word. Impress Your teachings  on my heart that they would always be the overflow of my life through my written and spoken words.   <3

*Lessons from a Sheepdog by Phillip Keller; Thomas Nelson, 2002; page 49

#2 – The Distraction of Annoying Intruders

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If you are just checking in, I am doing a series this week of requests that I don’t think I have seen on a prayer chain…prayers that I have added for myself after reading Lessons from a Sheep Dog by Phillip Keller.

He writes about an event that occurred every spring that caused some serious interruptions to his shepherding; the arrival of a flock of crows that nested in trees adjacent to his pastures until their fall migration to a warmer climate.

The crows delighted in taunting Keller’s sheep dog who would spend hours chasing them. Leaping in the air as the birds swooped down, she would end up completely exhausted and having accomplished nothing to help with the sheep she was supposed to be tending.

In the book, Phillip Keller pointed out that the crows had come from outside the property, were in no way a part of the work he was trying to accomplish, and yet, his sheep dog would become completely preoccupied with their existence .

The distraction of these invasive and tormenting crows exhausted his dog and kept her from performing useful service.

In the book, he points out that we encounter similar distractions as we attempt to serve God and His Kingdom:

“Circumstances which are not part of His purposes for us intrude themselves into our experience.

The difficulty is they distract us from our most important responsibilities to Christ.

They call us away and tempt us to take off in hot pursuit.

In the process our energies are wasted, our strength is expended – yet the benefit to God or His flock is nil.” *

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I think how often I can lose an entire day because of some annoying set of circumstances that has intruded on me from outside.

I get worked up and lose all focus as I attempt to eradicate something that really has nothing to do with the work God called me to do that day.

This does not apply to the divine interruptions that God sends our way…you know the ones…where you had your day all neatly planned until you get a call from someone who needs help.

No, the things I am talking about are the “noisy crows” that clamor for my attention; things that are outside of God’s purpose for me and yet I find myself expending precious energy on these things instead of God’s things.

At the end of the day, the intruders are unscathed, God’s purposes remain unfulfilled and I am worn out.

And so my prayer for Day 2 would be:

Heavenly Father, help me to recognize annoyances and circumstances that are outside Your purpose for me each day that clamor for my attention. Give me strength to resist the temptation to be distracted by these. Help me to be wise about where I expend my energy so that it can be spent on the things You have set me to do, according to Your plan for me. Enable me to keep my focus firmly on You throughout the day no matter what swoops in to taunt my mind and jar my nerves. 

*Lessons from a Sheepdog by Phillip Keller; Thomas Nelson, 2002; page 48

#1 – To hold fast when you can’t see the Shepherd

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I just finished reading a little book one of my friends gave me called Lessons from a Sheep Dog by Phillip Keller.

Keller died in 2001. He was, among many things, a wildlife photographer, shepherd, naturalist and author.

This particular book is based on his experience with a wayward, neglected sheep dog that he rescued and trained. From the dog, he learned much about his own relationship with the Lord.

I underlined so much of the book that I decided to copy these impacting lessons into notes and as I wrote them, I discovered five things that I would suggest would make excellent prayer requests for all of us who claim to follow Christ.

I am sharing them this week…

Day 1:

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Phillip Keller writes that there are times when a shepherd has work to do, for instance repairing a broken fence, that requires him to leave the flock under the care of his sheep dog in one location, while he goes and works in another.

His dog did not understand that when her master disappeared, it was her job to remain faithfully watching the sheep until Phillip returned.

The dog would become restless, wanting to find her master and be close to him.

The animal enjoyed being actively involved in what the shepherd was doing; as well as enjoying the companionship that they shared.

Of course, if the sheep dog left her position…the sheep scattered and often came to harm because of the dog breaking faith.

Phillip Keller says it so well, as he points out that we all desire AND have the capacity to be the hero:

“But it takes a much more steadfast faith in our Father to stay true in the quiet places where He puts us.”  *

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Often in this journey, Jesus seems far removed from my every day life.

Oh, I love Him and I know He loves me.

I pray and I sing and I read and apply His word to my daily living…

and there are glimpses of His Hand…

times of assurance that I am on track and on task…

but much of this Christian life is lived by faith…

by trust that He is working somewhere that I cannot see at the moment.

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And so in those times when I cannot see Him, or sense Him, or feel His presence, as long as I know it is not sin that has separated me from Him, then I am to continue tending to that which I have been given to do until I receive further instruction.

And so I am adding to my prayer list this simple prayer request…

Lord, help me to “wait well”…to keep watch over the “flock” You have assigned me; even when I cannot see the Shepherd. I pray that I will be found faithful when He returns. Help me, Lord, to not grow restless when the work becomes tedious and there is little to capture my attention. Keep me alert and diligent to continue to serve You steadfastly wherever You have placed me          <3

*Lessons from a Sheep Dog; Phillip Keller, Thomas Nelson 2002; page 44

 

Race day on the Journey…

First off…can I just say that controversy seems to be the climate of our daily existence and while I have lots of soapboxes I could pull up and share my thoughts…in reality…

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this kinda sums it up.

So since this is my journey today…

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grab a cup of coffee or your favorite sports drink and  let me tell you how adrenaline must be the secret fuel of athletes because yesterday when I pulled into my parking spot to pick up our packets…

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I was a mess…as in all teary and emotional and feeling like anyone carrying a nylon bag or headed to get one was part of my tribe…

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although I am not sure they felt the reciprocal excitement…

my enthusiasm started to overtake my common sense as I actually began to entertain that thought that I said is a sure sign of lunacy…”I wonder if we could do a half marathon…”

I haven’t shared it verbally with my running buddy…

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We will have to let that one marinate on the bucket list, I guess…

but for today…

we will run…

with purpose..

because in all the races of life…

this is the one thing I am not corn-fused about…

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That’s truth.

For God so loved the world…that He GAVE His only Son…that whosoever believes IN Him…shall not perish…but have everlasting life…John 3:16

There is no freedom without Christ.

Now..

you will have to excuse me because …

you know…

I’ve got to run     <3

 

 

 

 

When your brain is running faster than your feet….

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Russ and I will be heading over to Champaign after work on Friday to run the 5K for WBGL’s Hope for Justice team.

Which meant tonight was our last night to run before the race.

Apparently a 5K is like…over 3 miles…a distance which I have not yet actually run.

I HAVE increased from running from our driveway to the neighbors; and have been able to go a little over two miles now, so progress…

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Tonight I decided it was time to see if I could manage to do three.

No hurry, right? Since, did I mention the race is Friday??

I get a stitch in my side walking fast,so this running thing has been a challenge that I have been able to pull off by listening to podcasts of teachings to pass the time.

However tonight; the night of the big final practice run, God in all His mercy sent sprinkles and thick gray skies that threatened a downpour so…no way could I run with my iPhone in hand.

It was just me propelled by this blonde brain as I made my way around the course.

As I ran I thought and prayed and pondered, with only mild panic that I might go insane before I ever made it back home.

I realized rather quickly that it was no good to think about how far I had come or how far I had yet to go.

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I just had to run focusing on one step at a time.

The only way to finish was to keep picking up and putting down one foot after the other.

I realized that this is how we finish races…not by calculating the distance and breaking it up into portions that we can manage, not in chunks of distance that we tick off as we complete them…

but simply step by step…steadfastly one foot after the other…whether walking it out or running it out…that is how the race is finished.

It’s tedious and hard…but we can take the next step..and the next one…and the next one.

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I think I must have finally got it right tonight because as I began to focus on just putting one foot after the other and breathing in…breathing out…I found a rhythm and then I noticed the sign on the little church I pass…

Be still and know…that I am God.

Good words to walk or run to…may God bless you as you finish well the race set before you.

You can do it.

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One faithful step at a time <3