One of the responsibilities I have as a Pastor is to shepherd the people of God. Talk of sheep and shepherds often gives us a cuddly view of sheep and the serenity of sheep grazing in lush green pastures from the picture Psalm 23 paints for us may come to mind. A small pond in the middle of the pasture with the heavy morning dew wetting the grass, a light haze and fog lifting above the sheep under the ever watchful eye of a gentle shepherd sitting on the hill with a blade of grass protruding from his lips with his walking stick or shepherd’s crook resting on his shoulder. The leaves of the nearby forest are beginning to change into their myriad of colors, there is a fresh crispness in the air and a cool refreshing breeze is gently blowing. The clock doesn’t matter and it’s a pristine day with bright sun under a cloudless day. Sounds inviting doesn’t it?
With school starting back, I doubt many of us with kids in school have this kind of picture taking place in our homes and lives…the obnoxious alarm clock is going off for the third time which means we’re already late after trying to get 5 more minutes of shut-eye. The mad morning dash is on to get the kids up dressed, fed and to school. The stress going on by the time we begin our drive to work is nearly at max levels because of the wreck/traffic blocking our progress. We finally make it the office and the full court press is in full swing until quitting time and the dash continues to pick up the kids, get homework started and hopefully finished before practice, lessons, recitals or who knows what else. Dinner on the run if we’re lucky, and if not, staring at the pantry at 9 p.m. wondering what to eat because we didn’t quite get to the grocery store, trying to get the already grumpy kids in bed. You collapse for another run at it tomorrow, started a conversation with your spouse but one or both of you passed out . Sounds more like reality doesn’t it? It’s more a picture of a ravenous pack of wolves scattering the sheep!
The second picture I’ve painted is more like what I hear more and more from the sheep God has entrusted me to shepherd in His pasture land called Bel Air Maryland. I appreciate our Lord’s feelings recorded for us in Matt. 9:36 “But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary (harried) and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd.” In talking with so many of you and people in our community; I know you’re harried and weary and you and your family seem to be scattered all over the place. I know this as it is a challenge for me and my family too. Added to all of this is the general stress of life, bills and expenses get higher and higher and our hard earned paycheck doesn’t go very far. The reality is all of us are limited in our time, resources and energy. We simply cannot go full speed and sustain that lifestyle for very long. We can’t live on the edge of our limits in any category very long without breaking down and going over the edge. Jesus sensed the same problem going on in the 1st century culture He lived in also and it bothered Him then and it bothers Him now as He’s watching our lives. He’s inviting you to step back from the edge and live with limits that you set in the choices you make for yourself and your family. We began a study last night after worship called “Take it to the Limit” and the message of learning to set limits will be a fantastic help to those who come. It spoke to my heart deeply as your shepherd as I’m concerned that my sheep are struggling and seem to be maxed out in nearly all areas of their lives. Will you ask God to give you wisdom to set limits and how you can build in margin to your time, your finances and your energy? Living without limits and margin is a recipe for disaster.
Let me encourage you once again to make Wednesday nights at Calvary a priority for you and your family. We’ve dubbed it W@C (Wednesdays @ Calvary). We just had our second week with our AWANA clubs, worship in the sanctuary at 6:15 till 7:10 and then from 7:15 to 8:15, there is a discipleship class, Bible Study or choir for you, a youth Bible study for your teen, while the AWANA club continues till 8:15. Why is this important? “Don’t you know Pastor Ralph we’re busy through the week?” Yes I do and that’s precisely why you need to make W@C a priority because I believe you’ll find it to be just what the doctor ordered. Our staff has identified 4 pillars that support our mission of teaching God’s people very well so they will love Him very much and serve Him very effectively. Those pillars are connect, grow, serve, renew. Each one of those pillars is part of our W@C strategy. Our Wednesday crowd is not so overwhelming and you can actually get to know people so you connect with each other and connect with God through the study of His word. As you connect with God and others in genuine relationship, you’ll grow in your faith (this is making disciplesJ), the growth as a disciple produces a servant heart and there numerous chances to serve with W@C. Personally, I love W@C because on the “hump-day” of the week, I’m renewed and refreshed in my spirit for the remainder of the week. While it’s a chore sometimes (even for the pastor to get back to church on Wednesday), I’m always glad I made it a priority. I know you’ll have to make some choices elsewhere in your schedule, but that’s part of learning to set limits and a step toward being less weary and scattered. Something to think about from your shepherd’s busy little corner of the world to yours…
Senior Pastor, Calvary Baptist Church
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