First page of the shepherd archive

From the manger to the cross

Posted by Mike Heady on December 13, 2016 with No Commentsas , , , , ,

A shepherd tells his story

What a night! What a night that was! I saw things that night that I never imagined I’d ever see!

I’m a shepherd. Always have been. Always will be. Shepherding is in my blood. I’ve seen a lot of things out there in the wilderness, in the pastures. Mostly good things. One of the best things is when one of my ewes give birth. What a sight to see a little bitty lamb come fresh into the world.

But I’d never seen anything like that night. It started out like any other night. My father and I brought our flock to the field and so did the other shepherds. We built a fire and fixed our supper. After we ate, we were sitting on the side of a hill looking down at the town – Bethlehem. That place was full of people. Every man ever born in Bethlehem had to come and register in the Roman census. So it was a busy, crowded place that night. I wanted to go down and just look around – see all those strangers and hear some of their stories and, well who knows what I might’ve seen. But my father wouldn’t let me go. He said there was nothing down there that I needed to see.

And then it happened. All of a sudden, up in the sky – an angel! A real, live angel! Big as three men! And shining as bright as the sun – nearly blinded us! We were scared, real scared – scared as a lamb being chased by a wolf.

And then that angel spoke to us. His voice was powerful, forceful, but at the same time, real gentle. I can’t talk like him, but he said, “Don’t be afraid. I’ve got good news for you. It’s going to make you happy, real happy. Earlier today, down there in David’s town, Bethlehem, a Savior has been born. He’s the Messiah. He’s the Lord. Here’s how you can find him: he’s a newborn baby wrapped in cloth and he’s lying in a manger.”

The angel had no more than gotten the words out of his mouth when the whole sky was filled with angels. All of them were praising God for sending the Savior to bring peace on earth. After awhile, they left. Just disappeared.

We looked at each other. Then my father said, “Son, I think there is something down there you need to see. Let’s go.”

We went down to Bethlehem. It took awhile but we finally found them. They were in a barn. And there that baby was – like a little bitty lamb come fresh into the world. But it seemed awful strange. The Savior of the world lying in a manger! The Messiah in a trough! The Lord using a feed box for a bed! It was strange to see that, but there he was, just like the angel had told us.

We got so excited. When we left, we told everybody we met what had happened. We went back to the pastures – singing and dancing and laughing. We were so happy – God had sent our Savior. We were going to be saved!

After several weeks, we went back to Bethlehem to see them again. But they were gone. We found out that they were from Nazareth and must have gone back there. Nazareth – way up north. I wondered if I’d ever see that baby again.

Many years went by – I’d say 25 or 30. I began hearing about a man who was traveling around up north and teaching and preaching and healing people. People said that he was different than any of our regular religion teachers. Some people were saying that he was the Messiah. His name was Jesus. He was from Nazareth. The more I heard about him, the more I believed he must have been the baby we had seen in Bethlehem.

He was traveling all over the country, so I waited for him to come to Bethlehem. A couple of times I heard he was in Jerusalem, which is just a few miles away. Once I went up there, but he had already left. He never did come to Bethlehem.

Two or three years went by, and it seemed nobody talked about anything but Jesus. Finally, I heard he was in Jerusalem again. I decided that I was going to go see him this time. There was a lot of expectation and tension among the people. It felt like something big was about to happen. If Jesus was that Savior the angel told us about, maybe he was about ready to make his move. I was determined to be there and see it if he did.

I got to Jerusalem on Thursday during Passover Week. People said Jesus had been teaching in the Temple every other day that week, but he didn’t show up that day. Just my luck. So, I decided to stay on through Passover and the Sabbath. Maybe Jesus would come back.

Friday morning, I heard that Jesus had been arrested and put on trial and convicted. They said he had been taken outside the city. I went to see him. So many years before when I went to Bethlehem to see the baby, I felt excited. As I made my way through the streets of Jerusalem, I felt scared. Real scared. There was a big crowd – some people were laughing and making jokes, some were weeping. I pushed through the crowd to see him. As soon as I saw him, I knew he was the baby, the baby I had seen lying in a manger. That was strange. This was shocking – the Savior, the Messiah, the Lord – nailed to a cross.

But see, that’s how he saved us. He died as a sacrifice – like a lamb freshly killed in the Temple. And then he rose from the dead. Beat everything that was against us – the ultimate predator and the law and our own rebellion. Gave us life.

I’m a shepherd. Always have been. Always will be. But I’m a different kind of shepherd now. Different on the inside. Freed up. Forgiven. Made right with God. And now I’m a shepherd for people: teaching, preaching, helping them to know and follow Jesus. Now I see things I never would have imagined. All because the Savior came and went from the manger to the cross.

Recovery for your soul

Posted by Mike Heady on March 11, 2016 with No Commentsas , , , , , , , , , ,

This is a guide for encountering Christ for yourself. You probably will need to set aside some time to be alone and uninterrupted. Use it any way you need.  Don’t feel you have to be locked in to what I’ve written; follow the Spirit’s lead for you.  I pray God will meet you and give you what you need.

 

man-on-bench-sunset

Focus your mind and spirit on getting together with God…

 

Read Matthew 9:36 –

Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd.

Jesus saw the people. He was aware of the people around him.  He was giving them his attention.  He was focused on the persons who walked by or who stood around or who sat before him.  Think about Jesus right now being aware of you – attentive and focused on you…

 

 

Jesus felt compassion. This is a graphic word that’s root meaning is “intestines or guts.” It pictures a feeling that convulses you deep inside.  Jesus was intensely moved with compassion, with concern and tenderness.  Can you believe that he reacts this way for you?  Meditate on Jesus caring about you deeply and intensely…

who am I

The reason Jesus felt such deep compassion for the people was “they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd.” The condition of the people’s lives reminded Jesus of a flock of sheep alone in the wilderness.  Maybe they were wondering around lost and they have pushed through briars and fallen into gullies – the sheep are bruised, cut, and exhausted.  Maybe they had been chased and attacked by wolves – the sheep are wounded and bleeding, collapsed to the ground and now easy prey.  Jesus saw that the people were distressed – a word meaning “torn skin” – their minds and hearts are ripped and shredded.  He saw that they were dispirited – this word means thrown to the ground – they were spiritually, psychologically, and emotionally beaten and weary.

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Jesus does not pretend that everything is okay with us. He understands how life’s circumstances, people, and Satan have bruised and exhausted us.  He gets what we have done to ourselves with our false beliefs, bad attitudes, poor choices, and sinful actions – I guess you can call it self-mutilation of our hearts and souls.  How are you distressed and dispirited?  Listen for the Spirit of God to speak his compassion for you…

 

Read John 10:11-15. Jesus said –

“I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and is not concerned about the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.

Jesus is the shepherd that the sheep are without. He is the Leader needed by the people who are distressed and dispirited.  Meditate on Jesus being the Shepherd for you.  (Part of this may be expressing your doubts and struggles about who Jesus is – if that’s where you are, it’s good to talk to him about it…)  Express your trust in Jesus to be your Shepherd – to know you and lay down his life for you…

 

Read Matthew 11:28-30. Jesus said –

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

Jesus invites you to himself for rest – recovery and healing. He asks you to take his yoke – to be connected to him by faith.  He promises rest for your soul – deep inside, the real you will be tended and restored to life.

“The Message” translation puts these verses:

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

Jesus hugging girl

Lean into Jesus. With your wounds and weariness, rest in him.  Receive his gentleness and grace…

 

 

 

 

 

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