Shepherding Talk: My New Website and Podcast

You all have been such a blessing and encouragement to me since Men’s Daily Briefing began in 2016. It began as a focused way to encourage men, but evolved into daily encouragement to a general audience. The feedback and support has been awesome! There have been times life dealt me a blow or two and others willingly carried the ball for awhile (Shane Blackmer, Andy Harrison etc.). I’m so blessed to have such great friends!

During the past few months, I’ve been working on a new website called Shepherding Talk. This website, blog and podcast are all devoted to teaching leadership through the Biblical lens of a shepherd with his sheep. The Bible is full of this imagery and that is how God relates to us, as a Shepherd with His sheep (Psalm 23, John 10).

At this point there are 40 plus articles on the website. Many articles from Men’s Daily Briefing will eventually be migrated over there.

Shepherding Talk

The Shepherding Talk Podcast will be a weekly interview with various leaders sharing their perspectives on Biblical leadership. Right now, there are 7 podcast interviews on the website. I’ve interviewed church leaders like Max Dawson, Roger Shouse and Benjamin Lee about various aspects of leadership. More interviews are coming, Lord willing!

The Shepherding Talk Podcast is available on platforms like Apple, Spotify, IHeartRadio, etc.

We will spend a lot of time on church leadership, but we will also talk about other ways we are shepherd leaders: in our families, marriages and communities. Everyone is a leader, and everyone can have a shepherd’s heart.

We will talk about the attitudes of leadership. For example, see Episode 7 where Benjamin Lee shares his passion for a positive “I Can Do” attitude.

We also will deal with current events like Racism. The next podcast to post tonight is Part 1 of a conversation about racism with Benjamin Lee.

Please subscribe to our weekly newsletter! Instead of a daily newsletter, we will post an article and podcast every week.

If you like it, please recommend it to your friends!

Men’s Daily Briefing. I’ve chosen not to continue the Men’s Daily Briefing website for practical reasons. I don’t want to focus on two websites at once! Again, thanks so much for the great encouragement!

My personal goal is to take the articles from both websites and turn them into books soon. Please pray for me in this effort. Thank you!

A special thanks to Benjamin Lee for being such a spark of energy and encouragement to get the Shepherding Talk website going. Also thanks to Roger Shouse and Max Dawson and Jason Hardin for helping me get the podcast off to a great start!

The Mark of the Shepherd

“The Lord is my Shepherd…” (Psalm 23:1)

In his book, A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23, W. Phillip Keller wrote about the distinctive mark of the shepherd that is made on each of his sheep. Out in the open field, sheep would get mixed with those of other flocks. Sheep would wander. They get sick or injured. It was important that the shepherd had a clear identifying mark to say, “That is my sheep.”

For some shepherds, it was a “lug mark,” a distinctive notch made in the ear of each of his sheep. Today, shepherds might use ear tags, or some use “smit marks” which is a uniquely colored symbol on each sheep. The more “modern” way to do this is to microchip each sheep, like many pet owners do today.

In the Old Testament, if a servant fulfilled his 7 years of service he would be granted freedom according to the Lord. However, if the servant loved his master and wanted to stay forever as a servant, then the master would pierce the servant’s ear. This would serve as distinct mark that the servant belonged to his master (Exodus 21:6).

As God’s people today who have taken on Jesus as our Lord and Owner, our “Chief Shepherd” puts His unique mark of ownership upon us. When we believe in Jesus as Lord and are baptized into Christ’s death, we are given the seal of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38; 2 Corinthians 5:5; Ephesians 1:14). This serves as a mark of ownership, a sign of a relationship, and a guarantee that we safely belong in the Shepherd’s fold.

Romans 8:14-17 – For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs–heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

2 Corinthians 1:21-22 – And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.

Going along with having the mark of our Good Shepherd upon us, we need to understand that as sheep of the Shepherd we need bear His mark to the world.

One way we do that is through how we behave. If we have the mark and seal of the Owner and Shepherd, then it will reflect in how we talk and act. But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity” (2 Timothy 2:19).

Secondly, if we bear His mark, then we also join in the sufferings of our Shepherd. Remember that Jesus the Shepherd was also the Lamb of God who suffered for the sins of the world. As we take on the ear tag of Jesus, we also take on his sufferings (Philippians 1:29; 2 Timothy 2:12; 1 Peter 4). Listen to Paul as he wrote, “I bear on my body the marks of Jesus” (Galatians 6:17).

Is the Lord your Shepherd? Do you bear His mark?

Knowing Your Flocks and Herds

Proverbs 27:23-27
Know well the condition of your flocks, and give attention to your herds, for riches do not last forever; and does a crown endure to all generations? When the grass is gone and the new growth appears and the vegetation of the mountains is gathered, the lambs will provide your clothing, and the goats the price of a field. There will be enough goats’ milk for your food, for the food of your household and maintenance for your girls.

You can’t manage effectively when you don’t have accurate information. This applies to goats and sheep, as the Proverb above says, but we can expand that to our finances, businesses, families, organizations and to our churches. Pay attention to your flock, and it will grow, and it will sustain you and others.

Shepherds live among the sheep. As Dr. Lynn Anderson put it, “They Smell Like Sheep.” Shepherds become intimately involved with each sheep, they learn each sheep’s personality. A shepherd knows the strengths and weaknesses of sheep. He can see when one is sick or needs special attention. He can look ahead and see the needs coming up, such as a need for green pastures with fresh grass or a better place for water. His eyes are always open for threats to the health and safety of his sheep. He takes this personally! It’s his life. The sheep are his life. Those sheep become comfortable and learn to be safe with that shepherd. As Jesus said, the sheep will learn to recognize the unique voice and call of their shepherd (John 10). That takes time, and a lot of patient consistent effort on the part of the shepherd.

I remember one time we had a really skiddish sheep. Snickers the sheep (see attached picture). He was young, and we had just brought him home. He would not come to anybody. My wife, Anna, took a chair out to his pen and sat there with animal crackers in her hand. She didn’t force him and she didn’t yell at him and command the sheep to come. She just sat there patiently and consistently with an animal cracker in her hand. This sheep would at first run around his shelter several times, then pause from behind the shelter and peek out to see Anna. Then he would step out a little closer to Anna as he felt safer. It wasn’t very long and he was eating out of her hand. And it wasn’t much longer after that when Anna was petting him and scratching behind his ears. He loved Anna, and was the most affectionate sheep. Anna knew her sheep and what he needed.

Can you imagine if Anna would have chased that sheep around with a stick, barking out orders to him? What about if she would have put a leash on him and forced him to come to her side? That would have changed the relationship, wouldn’t it? What if she would have quit in frustration, slammed the animal crackers box down on the ground and left before the sheep was really comfortable with her?

Question, why did so many “flock” to Jesus during His day (Luke 15:1-2)? Yes, many came for miracles or because they heard about the miracles, but there’s so much more to it than that. Let me ask another question, why were they not going to the Pharisees and Sadducees? You don’t see the people racing to their side for comfort, wisdom and direction, do you? Why not? They put heavy burdens on people, they were hard-nosed, they were distant and aloof, and they were very hypocritical.

Another question, do people feel safe coming to you? Sometimes we may look around and realize that people are not coming to us for wisdom. What do we do at that point? Do we blame everyone else? Do we throw rocks at the sheep who are not coming to us? Or do we look in the mirror and do some serious reflection? Maybe I don’t really know my sheep, and maybe I haven’t been truly invested in knowing the sheep. And even more than that, maybe I’m scary to the sheep. I walk in and they run for safety. If that’s the case, go get a chair and some animal crackers and learn to create a safe environment.

If you want to know your sheep, then you have to create an environment where sheep are safe around you.

Isaiah 40:11
He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.

David Served God’s Purpose in David’s Generation, Part 4

Acts 13:36 For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep and was laid with his fathers and saw corruption,

God called David from shepherding sheep in order to shepherd the people of Israel. What in the world did David know about leading a nation? Not much, but what he did have was valuable to God. David had the right heart, and you can’t teach heart. God could teach David and would teach David everything he needed to know about being a king. But David had the right start…a great heart.

Think about some simple things David learned as a young man in the field shepherding sheep:

  • He learned to meditate upon God. David from the very beginning had a heart that was devoted to God. You can tell from his Psalms that he spent time outdoors looking up and around at the amazing creation of God. This started young for David. Would this come in handy later as David was fleeing from Saul, facing giants, planning wars, managing all the minutia of being a king? Absolutely!
  • He developed great musical talent. Not only did this soothe David and his animals, it would later bring David into a king’s palace to soothe troubled KIng Saul. These talents would also be used later as David wrote worship music and created many instruments to go along with that worship music. Those Psalms are still being used in worship 3,000 years later.
  • He learned about faith and facing adversity. As a shepherd, he had to face cold and heat, life and death. Read about the other shepherds in the Bible, a shepherd has to think about pasture, dark valleys, robbers, weather, good water, sickness, predators, etc. Would those skills come in useful later in life? Sure, he was learning how to multi-task, even when life and death were at stake. But he showed great care and devotion to his sheep, and God knew David would show that same care and devotion to the people of God (Psalm 78:70-72).
  • He learned to be faithful in a few things. If you are not devoted to your job at McDonald’s, why do you think God will bless you with being CEO of a corporation? If you are not dedicated to sweeping the floor at work and you cut corners and lie about how much work you did, you will do the same thing when managing billions of dollars. It’s that simple. Jesus said, “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? And if you have not been faithful in that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own?” (Luke 16:10-12). David was faithful with his father’s few sheep, and God gave him the kingdom of Israel.
  • He learned how to use a sling. Do you think that will come in useful later with Goliath? Shepherds by necessity became deadly with a sling and stone, and David’s skill he learned keeping sheep would one day take down a giant.

Sometimes we minimize and discount the little jobs and little lessons we are learning on a daily basis. It’s like the college student that wonders why he has to take a certain class that has nothing to do with his desired career, and then maybe later he realizes he did learn something in that class that was valuable to him later in life. It is easy to forget that God is preparing us for future work in His kingdom. The work you are doing now, and the faith lessons you are learning now will someday be used in a powerful way later in life. That’s just the way it works. David didn’t know that being a shepherd was training him to be king, but God did.

 

Here is a link to David Served God’s Purpose in David’s Generation, Part 1

Here is a link to David Served God’s Purpose in David’s Generation, Part 2

Here is a link to David Served God’s Purpose in David’s Generation, Part 3

David Served God’s Purpose in David’s Generation, Part 3

Acts 13:36 For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep and was laid with his fathers and saw corruption,

We continue our dive into the life of David and that he served God’s purpose in his own generation. At a practical level for David that meant as a young man he focused on being a shepherd of his father’s sheep. Even when he knew his next job was going to be king of Israel, he still did his everyday job of tending to the sheep. As an older man, while serving as king, David wanted to build a temple for God. God blessed David for his desire, but said, “No…Solomon your son will build the temple.” How did David respond? He devoted the rest of his life to preparing Solomon and Israel for the building of the temple.

Let’s summarize it this way:

  • When David was young, he didn’t focus on the job he was GOING to do, he focused on the job he CURRENTLY HAD.
  • When David was older and king, he didn’t focus on the job he ASKED God to do, he focused on the job God WANTED him to do.
  • Are you and I like David?

Here are a few points to consider about God’s purpose for you:

  • Let God DECIDE what your purpose is. For David as a young man it was shepherding, as an older man it was mentor and temple-preparer.
  • Let God DEFINE what a great purpose and work is for you. David could have gotten a big head as a young man, saying I’m going to be great someday and be king. Instead, he knew greatness at that period in his life was serving God and keeping sheep. As an older man he wanted to do this great work of building the temple, but God’s great work for David was preparing Solomon to build the temple.
  • Let God DETERMINE the right time for you to live out that purpose. David didn’t know when he would become king, so he just kept doing his job and living for God until God revealed the right time for him to be king.

 

Here is a link to David Served God’s Purpose in David’s Generation, Part 1

Here is a link to David Served God’s Purpose in David’s Generation, Part 2

David Served God’s Purpose in David’s Generation, Part 2

Acts 13:36 For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep and was laid with his fathers and saw corruption,

If you were working at a fast food restaurant, and a prophet of God came to you and said that none of the current candidates would become President of the United States (I would say, hooray!!). But then you are told by the prophet that YOU will be the next President. On January 20, 2021, you will be sworn in as the next President and move to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Would you leave your headset at the drive thru and tell your boss you quit?

Most would. But the young teenager David didn’t do that, did he? Nope, he went right back to work as a shepherd in the field watching his father’s sheep.

For today’s briefing, I want to walk you through a few verses and ask some simple questions along the way.

What was David doing BEFORE he was anointed to be the next king? He was “keeping the sheep” of his father Jesse (1 Samuel 16:11).

What was David doing AFTER he was anointed to be the next king? When David was called to play music for King Saul, it was said that David was “with the sheep” (1 Samuel 16:17-19).

What was David STILL doing while he worked at the king’s palace to play music for the King? He went “back and forth from Saul to feed his father’s sheep” at Bethlehem (1 Samuel 17:14-15).

What did David make sure to do WHENEVER he was sent back to the king? David rose early in the morning and left the sheep with a keeper…and went.

Now, men, that is a sermon left for us from a young teenager. He wasn’t entitled, he was humble and grateful and dedicated to his job. Even when he knew that he would soon live in a palace and be the king of all Israel, he still did his “lowly” job of shepherding sheep. He wasn’t even shepherding his own sheep, they were Daddy’s sheep. Look at that attitude!

Do you want to know why God called David to be king? Here is a great reason why, David didn’t get too big for his britches. His heart was humble and dedicated to God, his job, and his family.

Psalms 78:70-72 He chose David his servant and took him from the sheepfolds; from following the nursing ewes he brought him to shepherd Jacob his people, Israel his inheritance. With upright heart he shepherded them and guided them with his skillful hand.

More to come on this.

Here is a link to David Served God’s Purpose in David’s Generation, part 1

David and Saul: A Contrast in Two Hearts, part 2

Psalm 78:70-72 – He also chose David His servant, and took him from the sheepfolds; from following the ewes that had young He brought him, to shepherd Jacob His people, and Israel His inheritance.  So he shepherded them according to the integrity of his heart, and guided them by the skillfulness of his hands.

Yesterday we began looking at a contrast between two hearts: the heart of King Saul and that of King David. Why was David a man after God’s own heart? Why did God choose David over Saul? Let’s look at this side by side comparison.

Saul was led by fear. David was led by faith.
Saul sought his own glory. David fought for God’s glory.
Saul viewed the battle as his to win. David saw the battle as belonging to the Lord.
Saul was his own counsel. God was David’s counsel.
Saul blamed others and did not take accountability for his actions. David looked in the mirror, accepted the blame and took accountability for his own behavior.
Saul only valued the word of God when it lined up with his thoughts/plans/lifestyle. David valued God’s word as a light to shine in the darkest recesses of his soul.
Saul worshiped his way. David worshiped God’s way.
Saul destroyed and drove away those who were in anyway a threat to his image, status, plans and power. David surrounded himself with those who were free to give him advice and differing opinions (Samuel, Nathan, Bathsheba, Joab, etc.), and sometimes they were pretty blunt when they gave that advice…yet he listened to their counsel.
Saul took matters into his own hands, David put matters in God’s hands.

Which man was perfect? Which man did everything right? Which man always made the right choices? Well, neither man was perfect. David made some real bad choices in his life, too.

But let me ask you this question: Which man do you want leading you?

And let’s ask ourselves this question: What kind of leader are we? Are we a Saul or a David-type leader?

David and Saul: A Contrast in Two Hearts, part 1

1 Samuel 13:14  But now your kingdom shall not continue. The LORD has sought out a man after his own heart, and the LORD has commanded him to be prince over his people, because you have not kept what the LORD commanded you.” 

God rejected King Saul as being leader of His people. He sought for a new leader, one who was after His own heart. God was looking for a man who saw things the way God saw them. One who would value and cherish the things of God and the people of God. That man was David.

What was the difference in the leadership style of David and Saul? It came down to heart. What did God see when He saw King Saul? When you read 1 Samuel 13-15, you will see what God was seeing.

1 Samuel 13 – King Saul did not wait for God. He was a man who was led by fear, and went about doing things his own way. You will see fear dominate his leadership decisions for the rest of his reign in Israel. His best counsel was within his own head (vs. 11-12). What you see in the life of Saul is that instead of seeking God’s counsel and the wisdom of those who could have helped him (Samuel, David, Jonathan), he chose to isolate himself from those who could have helped him. He also surrounded himself with people who agreed with him and drove away anyone who thought otherwise.

1 Samuel 14 – King Saul sought his own glory in battle (vs. 24), and his glory-seeking almost cost his own son’s life. As his son, Jonathan, put it, “My father has troubled the land” (vs. 29).

1 Samuel 15 – King Saul did not obey God. Frankly he was rebellious. God commanded him to completely destroy the Amalekites, including their livestock, and he chose to spare the best and bring them home. He was so proud of himself that he went and set a monument up for himself (vs. 12). When the prophet Samuel called him on it, Saul did not take accountability for his actions. He blamed the people for his lack of leadership; he blamed fear of the people for his disobedience to God (vs. 15). Saul tried to justify bringing home the animals because they would be sacrificed in worship to God (vs. 15). When he finally fessed up to sinning, his main concern was that he keep his status among the elders of Israel (vs. 30).

You can see what God saw, and why God took away the throne from Saul. But what was it about David that was different from Saul? Why would his leadership be different? You will see David sin, and you will see him make some bad choices as a leader, but what was the real difference between Saul and David? Why would God approve of David on the throne versus King Saul? We’ll look at that tomorrow, Lord willing.

Be Thou My Vision

1 Samuel 16:7 But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.”

It is the year 2020, and there are going to be a lot of 2020 Vision references around in the media, so we’ll try not to wear that out here. However, it is a great opportunity to talk about vision, especially God’s vision.

As we saw in the above passage of Scripture, the prophet Samuel was told by God not to look as man looks, but to see as God sees. Samuel thought the biggest, tallest dude would surely be the next king, and God said, “Don’t look at it that way.” Samuel was looking at the physical stature of a man, God was looking at the heart. The oldest son, Eliab, was rejected by God to be the future king, and so was every one of Jesse’s sons in the room. They had to go out into the field to find David, the youngest of the sons who was out keeping the sheep. He wasn’t even invited to the party initially, but God said, “This is one…this is the man I’m looking for…this is the future king!”

What made David so “kingly” to God? Because he saw things God’s way. He was a man after God’s own heart. His vision was tuned in by His Father above. David’s eyes saw things through God’s lenses, and that’s why he was chosen.

Our prayer for all of us is that we will be transformed in 2020 to see as He sees, not as man sees.

Here are the words to a very old Irish hymn:

Be Thou My Vision

Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart; naught be all else to me, save that Thou art. Thou my best thought, by day or by night. waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

Be Thou my wisdom, and Thou my true word; I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord; Thou my great Father, I Thy true son; Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.

Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise, Thou mine Inheritance, now and always; Thou and Thou only, first in my heart. High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.

High King of Heaven, my victory won, may I reach Heaven’s joys, O bright Heav’n’s Sun! Heart of my own heart, whate’er befall, still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.

Things That Are Lacking

This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you–
(Titus 1:5)

Look at the various ways the phrase “put what remained into order” is translated:

“Set in order the things that are lacking” (NKJV)

“Set in order what remains” (NASU)

“Straighten out what was left unfinished” (NIV)

“Set in order the things that are wanting” (KJV)

“Amend what was defective” (RSV)

Considering these various phrases, we can see that Paul knew that something just wasn’t finished in the churches in Crete. There was something “defective, wanting, lacking, unfinished” in the churches.

What was lacking and unfinished? The churches were sheep without shepherds…they needed elders in every congregation. Without elders, the church is lacking, unfinished, defective, etc.

What is lacking when sheep are without shepherds?

  • Protection
  • Provision
  • Accountability
  • Direction

We should be able to see God’s wisdom in having men appointed as shepherds or elders to lead the local congregations. We are sheep, whether or not we like to admit it. Without a shepherd, I am in danger! When we have no shepherds, we wander and are in danger of being eaten by wolves!

God has designed His local congregations to have godly shepherds who will be after His heart (Jeremiah 3:15). These elders/shepherds are to think like God, to be on the same page as God. Because these elders think like God does, they can do for God’s sheep what God’s sheep need. We need direction, accountability, protection and provision.

Read Psalm 23 and John 10 and think about what shepherds do for sheep. This is what our elders in our congregations do for us. What a blessing! Thank God for godly elders!