You Anoint My Head with Oil

Psalm 23:5 – …you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. 

Today’s article is inspired by chapter 10 of A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 by W. Phillip Keller.

In this chapter, the experienced shepherd, Phillip Keller, talks about how he anointed his sheep and more importantly why. He spoke of all kinds of nasty bugs and critters that will absolutely drive a sheep crazy, or make them sick. Keller also spoke of “scab” that afflicts the sheep.

The cure for treating his sheep from certain parasites and flies was anointing their heads, faces, noses and ears with a combination of oils and other remedies. The shepherd was anointed the sheep’s head with oil to bring comfort and healing and peace. A ewe would bash its head against fences and walls because flies were driving her bonkers. But after her “anointing,” she was contented and at peace because the shepherd anointed her.

You can look throughout scripture to see God or His leaders “anointing” His people for various reasons. The anointing was sometimes for healing (John 9:11; James 5:14; Mark 6:13; Luke 10:34) . Other times it was a calling to a specific work like a priest or king (Psalm 2:2; 89:20-21). Those anointed by God were also under his protection (Psalm 28:8; 105:15). Sometimes it was to honor and show gratitude to someone, which happened to Jesus more than once (Luke 7:36-50; John 12:1-8). We also see that God’s anointing involved teaching and guiding His people (Psalm 132:17; 1 John 2:20-21,27). But above all that, God anoints His people to say, “You are mine!” (2 Corinthians 1:21-22). Also remember that God’s anointing is an oil of gladness – it was true for Jesus and it is also true for us (Psalm 45:7; Isaiah 63:3)!

God is our shepherd. He anoints us to care for us, to teach us, to protect us, to heal us, and to reassure us. We are His sheep, and He loves us. And when He anoints us, our cup truly overflows.

The way of the Lord is not just?

Yet the house of Israel says, ‘The way of the Lord is not just.’ O house of Israel, are my ways not just? Is it not your ways that are not just? (Ezekiel 18:25,29).

The people of Israel accused God of not being fair. God turned it around on them. It was their ways that were not fair. Just read Ezekiel 34 to see how the Jewish leadership was treating people. That was injustice to put it mildly. God is always just.

Look in Ezekiel 18 to see the “just” nature of God. God doesn’t want anyone to die in his sins. He wants the wicked to repent and turn from his wickedness. God wants the righteous person to stay on the right path.

Here are six examples in Ezekiel 18 to show that God is just.

  1. If a man lives by God’s word and is a righteous person, he will live (Ezekiel 18:5-9).
  2. If a righteous man raises a wicked son, the wicked son doesn’t get extra credit points for being a righteous man’s son. He will be punished by God for his wickedness, even if his daddy was godly (Ezekiel 18:10-13).
  3. If a wicked man raises a righteous son, the righteous son is not going to be held accountable to God for the sins of his wicked father (Ezekiel 18:14-20).
  4. If a wicked man turns from his wickedness and chooses a godly path, God will save him and he will live (Ezekiel 18:21-23,27-29).
  5. If a righteous man turns from his righteousness and decides to live a wicked life, God will judge him for his wickedness (Ezekiel 18:24-26).
  6. God will judge everyone according to his ways and deeds – That is fair and just (Ezekiel 18:30).

Think about this! How much more “fair” can you get? You are judged by your own deeds. It is not a rigged system that exists in so many places, like politics and business. God doesn’t judge you by other’s deeds and words, He judges you by your own. If your parents are evil, you don’t lose your relationship with God. If your parents are righteous, you don’t get to ride into heaven on their coattails. God is fair – He judges you by what you say and do and how you respond to His word. It’s not anymore complicated than that.

The Well From Which You Drink

In John 4, Jesus met with the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well. I’d encourage you to read through John 4 and meditate upon it. Jesus has a great discussion with her about living water. It started with a discussion about physical water, but led to living water. The woman begged for this living water! And then for some reason, Jesus brings up her marital situation.

The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.” Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.” The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet.
(John 4:10-19)

From what well had the Samaritan woman been drinking? I’m not talking about Jacob’s well. I’m talking about the relationship well. She had drawn from that well over and over (maybe for no fault of her own), but it had left her dehydrated. Those relationships hadn’t quenched any thirst at all, they had only left her empty and begging to be filled.

We drink things today that make us dehydrated. Pop. Coffee. Alcohol. Our well here at our house is really salty, we can’t drink from it; we had to buy a reverse osmosis system to deal with it. I’m sure you understand that you can drink things that leave you worse than before. Nothing really replaces good water, and nothing really replaces the living water Jesus offers.

Are you thirsty? Dehydrated? Have you become empty because you are drinking from the wrong well? Then Jesus is offering you living water!

“Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food.
(Isaiah 55:1-2)

7 Sayings of Jesus on the Cross

Yesterday, the brother who led our Lord’s Supper talked about the 7 sayings of Jesus on the cross. He referenced a short outline and I’m not sure of the source or author, but there are some great thoughts here.

  1. A prayer for His executioners“Father forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).
  2. A word of comfort for a fellow sufferer“Today, thou shalt be with me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43).
  3. A word of tender care – “Woman, behold thy son…behold thy mother” (John 19:26-27).
  4. A word of loneliness – “My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46).
  5. A word of need – “I thirst” (John 19:28).
  6. A word of triumph – “It is finished” (John 19:30).
  7. A prayer of resignation – “Father, into thy hands I commend My spirit” (Luke 23:46).

Look at our Lord in His darkest hour. Can you see His heart? Do you see His character and spirit shine through? Just an awesome thought for us today to think of what Jesus was like in the worst possible situation imaginable.

The Starting Line of Life

But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.
(1 John 3:17-18)

I encourage you to watch this video. It really helps to sink in that many of us have had a better starting line than others in life. This isn’t to make us feel guilty! That’s not the point of this video in my view. It’s to help us to better appreciate how blessed we are, and how others have to work even harder to overcome obstacles many of us never had to face.

God wants us to take the privileges, opportunities and blessings we have been given and use them for His glory.

The Starting Line of Life

“Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh? Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer; you shall cry, and he will say, ‘Here I am.’ If you take away the yoke from your midst, the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness, if you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday.”
(Isaiah 58:6-10)

Post 1,000!

This is post 1000! Thanks so much for your encouragement and support for us through these past 4 years!

A thousand can seem like a big number. Having a thousand dollars is a basic emergency fund, according to Dave Ramsey. If you weigh a thousand pounds you will lock in a spot on one of those weight loss shows. A thousand miles is a long road trip.

What about a thousand years? From today that would be the year 3020. But for God a thousand years is nothing. God is outside of space, time, and matter, so the things that limit us don’t phase Him.

For a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday when it is past, or as a watch in the night.
(Psalm 90:4)

God’s frame of reference is such that whether it is 1,000 years or 10 seconds, they are the same to Him. He promised the coming of Jesus, but Genesis to Matthew took thousands of years! To man, that was an eternity, for God it was the same as a few days. The same is true for the end of the world, God promised it 2,000 years ago. He also said some of us would start to mock Him because it is taking so long for Jesus to return (2 Peter 3). But remember that God’s view of time is completely unlike yours and mine.

Let’s pray for God to help us see time through His perspective.

Psalm 90:12
So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. 

So the king did not listen to the people

The picture attached to this post is one that is very encouraging, and there are many examples of this going around in the country. Police officers are kneeling, praying and marching with protestors to show that they hear and understand the cries of racial injustice. That’s what we need.

Here is a contrast in Scripture to that positive example. The following is what NOT to do when you are in positions of authority.

In the Scripture below, we see that there was a time in Israel when people came to the leadership and cried out about oppression. The people came to King Rehoboam, son of King Solomon, and presented their case.

Their “yoke” was heavy. Solomon apparently had really taxed the people to the point of oppression, and the people wanted relief. They peacefully came to the King to ask for change.

The King, Rehoboam, had two sets of advisors. One group counseled the king to be a servant to the people and be kind to them. Hear their requests and serve them, and they will serve you forever. The other group of counselors advised the King to be even tougher than Solomon. Bring the hammer down on the people, they said.

So, the king listened to the second group, threatened the people, punished them for speaking up and pushed them away. This led to the nation literally dividing (as God had prophesied would happen).

“So the king did not listen to the people…”

What does God want from his leaders? People who listen. Those who hear the cries of the hurting. It’s one thing for those in authority to say they aren’t racist, it is entirely another when a police officer lays down his baton, takes off his helmet and hugs those in the crowd who are hurting and afraid.

Rehoboam had the opportunity to sit down and listen to the request of his people. He had been offered an olive branch to peacefully bring a resolution to what was hurting the nation. However, in his arrogance and in his thirst to assert his authority and dominance, he drove most of the nation away from him.

That is our choice as leaders. As parents. As spouses. As church leaders. As leaders in business. As leaders in the community. When those under our leadership cry out from broken hearts because of how they are being treated, how will we respond?

Rehoboam went to Shechem, for all Israel had come to Shechem to make him king. And as soon as Jeroboam the son of Nebat heard of it (for he was still in Egypt, where he had fled from King Solomon), then Jeroboam returned from Egypt. And they sent and called him, and Jeroboam and all the assembly of Israel came and said to Rehoboam, “Your father made our yoke heavy. Now therefore lighten the hard service of your father and his heavy yoke on us, and we will serve you.” He said to them, “Go away for three days, then come again to me.” So the people went away. Then King Rehoboam took counsel with the old men, who had stood before Solomon his father while he was yet alive, saying, “How do you advise me to answer this people?” And they said to him, “If you will be a servant to this people today and serve them, and speak good words to them when you answer them, then they will be your servants forever.” But he abandoned the counsel that the old men gave him and took counsel with the young men who had grown up with him and stood before him. And he said to them, “What do you advise that we answer this people who have said to me, ‘Lighten the yoke that your father put on us’?” And the young men who had grown up with him said to him, “Thus shall you speak to this people who said to you, ‘Your father made our yoke heavy, but you lighten it for us,’ thus shall you say to them, ‘My little finger is thicker than my father’s thighs. And now, whereas my father laid on you a heavy yoke, I will add to your yoke. My father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with scorpions.’” So Jeroboam and all the people came to Rehoboam the third day, as the king said, “Come to me again the third day.” And the king answered the people harshly, and forsaking the counsel that the old men had given him, he spoke to them according to the counsel of the young men, saying, “My father made your yoke heavy, but I will add to your yoke. My father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with scorpions.” So the king did not listen to the people, for it was a turn of affairs brought about by the LORD that he might fulfill his word, which the LORD spoke by Ahijah the Shilonite to Jeroboam the son of Nebat.
(1 Kings 12:1-15)

Do You See This Woman?

Luke 7:44 – Do you see this woman?

Here are two sisters in Christ who are African American. What they are going to say might make you uncomfortable. Many of us have lived in denial and dismissal that racism still exists, but have we listened to our black brothers and sisters in Christ? Have we asked them what they think and what their viewpoint is?

Take some time to watch this video by sister Nikki Lee and by sister Tranae Felicien. Hear their pain. As you can see in the above verse, Jesus had to get the Simon the Pharisee to stop for a minute and get out of his safe and comfortable box of prejudice to see the woman who came in to anoint Jesus. Today Jesus wants us to listen, to truly see others and to hear their pain.

Sister Nikki Lee’s heartfelt call to see her and her son and her husband for what they are enduring.

 

Here is sister Tranae Felicien’s post on how hurt she is by the blindness and dismissal she had witnessed from her brothers and sisters in Christ.

Written by Tranae Felicien

When there was a death from systemic racism, I used to feel pressure to end a post on a hopeful note about the future of America. But I’ve stopped holding my breath that America, as a society, will ever rid itself of its racism. Part of my evidence lies in the life experiences I and my community have survived. Part of my evidence lies in the years I’ve been on the incredibly illuminating social media apps.

I see your posts about Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd. I see the ones who have decided to use their pages to educate. But I also see the ones who have only posted about the looting or only to say “not all cops”. I see the people commenting “I am with you” but your pages are silent. And I’ll see your silence about Trump greenlighting shooting his own people over property.

I see those who have posted about mask requirements being a denial of rights but never about racism. I see your posts about abortion but never about racism’s fatalities. I see the posts that are scared to say racism but resort to general admonitions of love. I see the people that say “all we can do is pray.” I see the people who continue to be confused at the way black people are treated in this country, but between this week’s comment and the last, they didn’t care enough to Google.

I saw your posts about Michelle Obama being a transgender woman. I saw your posts about Obama causing a “race war”, blaming a black man for people being fed up with racism. I saw your dismissals of past black viral tragedies, even those on video (Botham Jean, Tamir Rice, Philando Castile to name a few). I saw you dismiss deaths as isolated incidents though DOJ investigations found patterns of discrimination within entire police forces.

I saw you say Blue Lives Matter when the spotlight was on black lives. I saw you rant about Colin Kaepernick’s non-violent, peaceful protest. I’ve seen the people who selectively quote MLK and the Bible to try to instruct black people not to cause trouble. Yet, you ignored quotes about condemnation for injustice and passiveness in the face of discrimination. I saw you try to excuse past Americans for slavery, as if they even cared about their descendants’ opinions of the way they dealt with their “property.” I saw you get heated about a dead flag of traitors literally fighting for the continued enslavement of black people.

What is the point of this post? Simply to let you know I see you. You may have been able to live your life in ignorance of racism’s pervasiveness but I have not. This is not a post to beg you to change. It’s a post to take you out of your comfort zone, the comfort zone I’ve never had being black in this country.

Some of you will start or continue to work for an actively anti-racist society. Some of you will post “in solidarity” but never examine yourself and your circle. Some of you will be upset that I’m not acknowledging private emotional disturbances from these newest fatalities, yet not see the reason why I don’t care if you felt bad briefly for others but said/did nothing about an issue every can affect in ways big or small. Some of you will think that racism is left in a few individuals and not ever contemplate that racism manifests in interactions less than death as it is systemic. Some of you will think black people continue to make all this up and will comfort yourselves with black voices who are paid to make you feel better.

Some of you may even look at this post and feel anger at me because you see yourself in some of my negative examples. Some of you may feel like I am not entitled to dictate what you post. You’d be right and also miss my point. Some of you may be upset that I’m making it seem like I have nothing to work on as a person, and you’d be incorrect as I am only addressing racism against black people. Again, you missed my point. Some of you may even find me ungrateful as I have had many amazing life experiences as a result of my family’s emigration here, having no knowledge of the price we paid in being just another black family here and the many black Americans denied my upbringing through the effects of racism. Some of you may find this post un-Christlike, but the white American version of Christianity that produces Christians more devoted to comfort than lessening injustices is a far departure from the Bible.

There are no congratulations in reaching the end of my post. But in parting, I leave a quote from MLK’s “The Other America” speech. And I want you to know that if you ever see my name trending because I’m victim of systemic racism, you’re going to see me fight back in that video. When the Lord welcomes me home, I’ll finally have an unburdened joy as no racists will be there.

 

The Apostles Listened and Didn’t Dismiss

Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint by the Hellenists arose against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution.
(Acts 6:1)

The horrible killing of George Floyd is just another reminder that hatred and racism is real in this country.

There was racial / ethic tension in the early church. It was real. Here is just one example.

Some widows were being neglected in the daily distribution. The Hebrew widows were doing just fine. They never missed a meal, and the Hebrews made sure their widows were well cared for. It was the Greek (Hellenist) Jews, whose widows were being overlooked.

The neglect, the favoritism, and the divide came to a head. The Hellenists cried out against the Hebrews because of the unfair treatment. “This isn’t right,” they said.

What did the apostles do? Did they dismiss the problem? Nope. Did they accuse the Hellenists of bad motives, of not being thankful, of creating a problem that doesn’t exist? Nope. Did they come back with “All Widows Matter.” Nope. Did they threaten and intimidate the Hellenists for speaking up? Nope.

What the apostles did first of all was listen. The leadership listened. They heard the cries of those who were being neglected and mistreated.

Secondly, they accepted that the problem was real and needed a godly solution. It was time to act.

Third they empowered the church, including those who were being mistreated to be part of the solution (Acts 6:3-6). Those who are in leadership and are reading this article, please, please, please see that it was the church, not the leadership, who selected the 7 men who would oversee the care of the widows. The apostles demonstrated confidence in the church to select who would take care of this issue. Notice that all 7 men had Greek names, not Hebrew ones (Acts 6:5). The group chose Greek (Hellenist) men to address the problem. Can you imagine us choosing an all-white panel to address racism in America?

These three basic things must be done today by our leaders, in churches, in business, and in America. Leaders have to listen, especially right now. Leaders cannot dismiss a problem that many people are consistently bringing up. Leaders have to empower people to be part of the solution.

Don’t get caught up in the reactions of some who are doing wrong and miss the hurt and pain of so many who are living what many of us have dismissed and don’t have to deal with on a daily basis.

Listen.

Don’t dismiss. Be part of the solution.

Empower others to be part of the solution.

Tomorrow, I’m going to post articles and videos from our sisters in Christ who are African American. Listen to them. Hear their pain and what they experience.