The Epiphany of the Red Shoes

 

My Red Shoes
My Red Shoes

A few months ago, my morning routine had taken me outside on our deck.  I just sat and was soaking up the first rays and drinking a cup of coffee.  My mind usually flits about; and I think about many different things.  I’d like to say that at least some are engaged with challenging issues.  But most though are a bit strange and out of bounds.  It seems at times to be like trying to put a leash on a wild dog.

Sitting there on a deck chair, I thought about the shoes I was wearing.  They were black clogs and I wore them everywhere.  I’ve had them for four or five years.  They had liners, so I could even wear them during winter.  As I sat there, it occurred to me that I have always bought and worn either black, or brown shoes.  Always.  As I considered this preference, it struck me as odd.  Why did I always buy dull and ordinary shoes?

Out back in the recesses of my mind, a thought burst into my thinking, it was like fireworks just went off.  I would buy red shoes!  I would retire my faithful sandals and wear red ones instead.  I set down my coffee cup and headed for my laptop.  I ordered a comfortable pair of Crocs, in crimson red.

I waited for the postman like a child waits for Christmas.  I was energized by the thought of having red shoes.  I do a lot of things spontaneously.  I can be far too impulsive, and it usually gets me in trouble.  But when they arrived, they were even better then I expected.  I put them on and started to prance around the house.  And to see a fifty-six year old man acting like a ten year old must of been a sight.  I didn’t want to take them off, and later I even flitted with the idea of even wearing them to bed.

Wearing my new red shoes was a profound experience which I didn’t anticipate. It may seem weird but when I wear them the feeling is somewhat like falling in love, or at least a reasonable facsimile.  Perhaps if its nothing, I’m willing to accept that.

I think of God’s grace and how extraordinary it is. We can reside in a barren wasteland of a tedious existence where joy is seldom found. I know this is true. But there can be an infusion of mercy in such places. A grace that meets with us and alters us. I believe we are to be “grace blasted” believers living with a sense of wonder over the kindness of God. He has chosen us to be His own sons and daughters.

“And I will be your Father, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.”

2 Corinthians 6:18

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How God Guides Rascals [Direction]

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These are rough notes I just compiled. They seem to be the different ways God guides the broken believer into His purposes and into His Will. I simply hope you’ll be able to extrapolate off them to find a personal direction. These have worked for me for over 30 years of following the Lord Jesus Christ.

“I will lead the blind by a way they do not know,
In paths they do not know I will guide them.
I will make darkness into light before them
And rugged places into plains.
These are the things I will do,
And I will not leave them undone.”

Isaiah 42:16, NASB

I want to lay out some practical ideas for those who desire to hear God. The following are principles to be considered.

A Rascal’s List of Guidance

  1. Discipline, Hebrew 12:5-11, the “woodshed.”
  2. Wisdom (a.k.a., yours and other people’s mistakes) Ps. 73:24
  3. The Word, logos and rhema— corporate, and personal understanding, Isa. 30:21
  4. Counselors, and advice– Luke 14:31
  5. Supernatural means, dreams or prophecy seen many times in scripture
  6. Peace, joy and brokenness, humility— Ps. 25:9
  7. With His eyes on us, God’s attentiveness to our path
  8. The church, and its pastors and elders. Jeremiah 3:15
  9. Opposing counsel from a respected leader helps you count the cost, Agabus in Acts 21
  10. Family, close friends, relationships (can be secular)
  11. Duty and loyalty, a requirement for future insight, also faithful in little things
  12. Quietness and alertness, through prayer/worship. Wait, and wait some more.
  13. Circumstances, positive or negative, Ps. 32:8
  14. Testing, temptation– toward godliness always
  15. Greater servanthood to be had– which way makes me serve in a greater way?
  16. To give a future and a hope always, Jer. 29:11
  17. The Book of Proverbs (31 chapters in 31 days is no coincidence)
  18. Travel, seeing needs of others, and discerning real needs of overseas work
  19. God’s very nature is to reveal (and He knows your inadequacies)
  20. Away from error, especially religious cults or the occult, horoscopes, etc.
  21. God’s glory and for His honor only, Ps. 43:3

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In discerning the will of God, you should line up as many as possible— not just one, but several. He sees your eager heart, and He will make things clear. Remember, you must proceed in faith, (Hebrews 11:1, 6), “for we walk by faith, not by sight,” 2 Cor. 5:7.

Any deficiencies or short-comings of this list are exclusively my own. I’m certain you can make your own list and a better version. Feel free to distribute or use as you see fit. “Eat the meat, and spit out the bones.” Remember this verse: “It is God’s privilege to conceal things, and the king’s privilege to discover them.” Proverbs 25:2, NLT.

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The Lord Is Our Shepherd

This is what is called a “found poem,” which means that every line of the poem was found in some other writing. In this case, all of  the lines of this poem are found in the Bible, from the Old Testament prophets, the words of Jesus, and all the way through Revelation.

The lines of the poem do not appear in the order they do in the Bible, but are arranged to illustrate how Scripture maintains a consistent Biblical theme of the Lord as our Good Shepherd watching over His lost and straying sheep.

Lost sheep, may you find yourself in the arms of our Shepherd today.

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The Shepherd

We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to his own way;
Hear us, O Shepherd of Israel,
You who lead Joseph like a flock;
You who sit enthroned
between the cherubim.

Like a hunted gazelle, like sheep
without a shepherd,
each will flee to his native land.
Save your people and bless
your inheritance; be their shepherd
and carry them forever.

He had compassion on them,
because they were harassed and helpless,
like sheep without a shepherd.
This is what the Sovereign LORD says:
Woe to the shepherds of Israel
who only take care of themselves!

Should not shepherds take care of the flock?
The LORD is my shepherd,
I shall not be in want.
“I will place shepherds over them
who will tend them, and they will
no longer be afraid or terrified,
nor will any be missing,” declares the LORD.

Then I will give you shepherds
after my own heart, who will lead you
with knowledge and understanding.
They will follow my laws
and be careful to keep my decrees.
And David shepherded them
with integrity of heart;
with skillful hands he led them.

For you were like sheep
going astray, but now
you have returned to the Shepherd
and Overseer of your souls.
And when the Chief Shepherd appears,
you will receive the crown of glory
that will never fade away.

For the Lamb at the center
of the throne will be their shepherd;
He will lead them to springs
of living water. And God
will wipe away every tear from their eyes.
So the LORD’s people will not
be like sheep without a shepherd.

But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
out of you will come a ruler
who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.
“I have other sheep that are
not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also.
They too will listen to my voice,
and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.”

He will stand and shepherd
his flock in the strength of the LORD,
in the majesty of the name of the LORD
his God. And they will live securely,
for then his greatness will reach
to the ends of the earth.

“I am the good shepherd
who lays down his life for the sheep.”
He tends his flock like a shepherd:
He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.

Correction for Christ Followers

“For the Lord corrects those he loves,
just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights.”  

Prov. 3:12, NLT

Interesting.  Some people get a double-dip.  If you are a loved son/daughter you have the tremendous honor of being loved and also of being disciplined.  My own son is disciplined because I love him so much.  He’s my boy and I love him even more than my own life.  When I do need to correct him, it is that love that makes it possible.  If I didn’t really love him, I would let him do his thing without any discipline at all. It would be easier.

To be left alone, with no correction or discipline is to be in a difficult place.  It smacks of abandonment.  Or of being cast-off or sent away.  It can be worse then abuse.

And have you forgotten the encouraging words God spoke to you as his children? He said,

   “My child, don’t make light of the Lord’s discipline,
      and don’t give up when he corrects you.
  For the Lord disciplines those he loves,
      and he punishes each one he accepts as his child.”

Heb. 12:5-6

The connection between a loving and caring Father, and you will require you to cooperate with His correction.  The writer of Hebrews knew the frail nature of people.  The writer knew that people would be tempted to quit– it is so hard.  “Don’t give up” in verse 5.  That means we will be tempted do so, to walk away and quit.  People do it all the time. It is easy.

“As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as his own children. Who ever heard of a child who is never disciplined by its father? 8 If God doesn’t discipline you as he does all of his children, it means that you are illegitimate and are not really his children at all. 9 Since we respected our earthly fathers who disciplined us, shouldn’t we submit even more to the discipline of the Father of our spirits, and live forever?”

Heb. 12:7-9

God loves you.  God loves you so much that He wants to change you.  Understanding that you are a son or a daughter in His family makes life worth living.

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ybic, Bryan

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In His Steps, Reading #52

“What would Jesus do in the center of a civilization that hurries so fast after money that the very girls employed in great business houses are not paid enough to keep soul and body together without fearful temptations so great that scores of them fall and are swept over the great boiling abyss; where the demands of trade sacrifice hundreds of lads in a business that ignores all Christian duties toward them in the way of education and moral training and personal affection? Would Jesus, if He were here today as a part of our age and commercial industry, feel nothing, do nothing, say nothing, in the face of these facts which every business man knows?

“What would Jesus do? Is not that what the disciple ought to do? Is he not commanded to follow in His steps? How much is the Christianity of the age suffering for Him? Is it denying itself at the cost of ease, comfort, luxury, elegance of living? What does the age need more than personal sacrifice? Does the church do its duty in following Jesus when it gives a little money to establish missions or relieve extreme cases of want? Is it any sacrifice for a man who is worth ten million dollars simply to give ten thousand dollars for some benevolent work? Is he not giving something that cost him practically nothing so far as any personal suffering goes? Is it true that the Christian disciples today in most of our churches are living soft, easy, selfish lives, very far from any sacrifice that can be called sacrifice? What would Jesus do?

Continue reading “In His Steps, Reading #52”

In His Steps, Reading #51

In His Steps


Chapter 31

 

He had planned when he came to the city to return to Raymond and be in his own pulpit on Sunday. But Friday morning he had received at the Settlement a call from the pastor of one of the largest churches in Chicago, and had been invited to fill the pulpit for both morning and evening service.

At first he hesitated, but finally accepted, seeing in it the hand of the Spirit’s guiding power. He would test his own question. He would prove the truth or falsity of the charge made against the church at the Settlement meeting. How far would it go in its self-denial for Jesus’ sake? How closely would it walk in His steps? Was the church willing to suffer for its Master?

Continue reading “In His Steps, Reading #51”

In His Steps, Reading #50

There was a moment’s hush over the room and then a man near the front of the hall slowly rose. He was an old man, and the hand he laid on the back of the bench in front of him trembled as he spoke.

“I think I can safely say that I have many times been in just such a condition, and I have always tried to be a Christian under all conditions. I don’t know as I have always asked this question, What would Jesus do?’ when I have been out of work, but I do know I have tried to be His disciple at all times. Yes,” the man went on, with a sad smile that was more pathetic to the Bishop and Mr. Maxwell than the younger man’s grim despair; “yes, I have begged, and I have been to charity institutions, and I have done everything when out of a job except steal and lie in order to get food and fuel. I don’t know as Jesus would have done some of the things I have been obliged to do for a living, but I know I have never knowingly done wrong when out of work. Sometimes I think maybe He would have starved sooner than beg. I don’t know.”

Continue reading “In His Steps, Reading #50”