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I Shall Not Want

I Shall Not Want

“The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want” Psalm 23:1

Continuing on our road map to face-to-face intimacy with Jesus, we see the second phase of David’s bold statement. The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. In other words, I lack nothing. 

What a statement! This is sheer confidence in God’s provision, and it is a confidence that goes hand-in-hand with the declaration that precedes it. For David to believe he had all that he needed, he had to know his Provider. After a revelation about the true character of God, we always come out more confident.

When I think of the people on this earth who joyously lack nothing, I don’t think of the wealthy or the proud. I think of children. Not only are they lacking in nothing, but they also are blissfully reliant on the one who cares for them.

Let’s cross-reference this with the gospel. In Matthew, Jesus teaches about the kind provision of His Father. He is confident in God’s ability, willingness, and desire to provide and care for His Children.

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing . . . Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” Matthew 6:25,33-34

On the road to a deep relationship with Jesus, we have to surrender a few things. One of the biggest ones is our distrust of God’s intentions. David’s song of praise reveals his fully surrendered trust in Yahweh. David leaned on God for everything, and he was never once abandoned or forgotten by God. Truth is, God is more invested than we are. He’s more willing to heal us than we are to be healed, He’s more excited for transformation than we are, He’s far more bent on loving us than we are on loving Him. That’s the beauty of it all. In God, we lack nothing, because He is a good Shepherd and a good Dad.

The Lord is my Shepherd. I lack nothing.

 

The Lord Is My Shepherd

The Lord Is My Shepherd

“The Lord is my Shepherd…” Psalm 23:1

In the most famous Psalm, the shepherd-turned-king, David, makes a bold statement: God’s my Shepherd. This particular Psalm of praise seems to lay the tender framework of a face-to-face relationship with God. The next few weeks, we’ll spend some time together digging into the Psalm 23, looking into what I believe is a roadmap to intimacy with Jesus.

If we start at the beginning, standing right next to King David, we can hear his sacred declaration. This is step one, and the most important step, to following God: knowing who He really is (see also John 17:3). According to David, God was his shepherd. But what exactly does that mean? What does it take for a man who grew up shepherding sheep to step into the identity of the care-receiver and give all authority to Another?

To understand this statement better, let’s talk about the kind of shepherd David was.

“David said to Saul, “Your servant used to keep sheep for his father. And when there came a lion, or a bear, and took a lamb from the flock, I went after him and struck him and delivered it out of his mouth. And if he arose against me, I caught him by his beard and struck him and killed him.” 1 Samuel 17:34-35

Take a moment to think about that. David was such a good shepherd that if any animal, no matter how dangerous, attacked his sheep, he would literally chase after it, kill it, and rescue his beloved sheep. Now that is a high standard of shepherding.

If David would risk his life to save even a single sheep, then we can assume he believed God would do the same. When he calls God his Shepherd, he’s paying God the highest compliment. He’s saying “I know the lengths my God will go to protect me. I am safe in His care.”

Psalm 23 begins with an identity revelation about God. I think we all need one of those. We all need to take a breath and check in on our belief system. Odds are, God’s better than we believe.

He is a care-taker. It is His joy to bestow His kindness on His sheep (that’s you and me). He has and will continue to risk all of Himself to rescue us. He is trustworthy.

The Lord is my Shepherd. He’s good. He’s better than we think!

A New Type of Resolution

A New Type of Resolution

Have you ever had a New Years Resolutions that didn’t make it to January 2nd? What about that resolution that comes back every year like a recurring nightmare?

Resolutions can be cumbersome and weighty. Sometimes they feel more like a heavy expectation, rather than a route to a “better you.” So, this year, we’ve decided to flip the tables on those New Years Resolutions and open the door to a new conversation. If the New Year is all about fresh starts, then why do we always bring the past with us everywhere we go? Nothing is more saturated in our shortcomings than the first couple weeks of January. More often than not, our resolutions have everything to do with what we dislike about ourselves, or what we’re ashamed of. And maybe that’s why they sputter, spit, and fall flat. No one was ever truly motivated by the negatives, right?

So here’s the idea. We’re going to pursue resolutions that are dead-center-focused on the good stuff. The heart beat of our fresh starts are going to be founded in love, compassion, joy, and diligence. Sound better? Here are our tips for a resolution that will last and impact you in all the best ways!

  1. Root your resolution in positivity. We find that it’s much easier to run into the arms of joy than to escape from a monster. Rewrite your resolution to be a welcome invitation for hope and encouragement.
  2. If it lacks self-compassion, it’ll fall. Practicing self-compassion is one of the bravest things you do. Most people are afraid to give themselves a break. Maybe that’s why their resolutions break them! This year, embrace the places where you fail and fall short. Give yourself room to be human, and love yourself well!
  3. Don’t sell yourself short. If you don’t believe in yourself, you’ve lost one of your most valuable supporters already! Your heart, mind, and body need you on board! It sounds funny, but a lot can change when you tell yourself that you’re capable, powerful, and good.
  4. Let people in. Our society is good at walls and isolation. Don’t succumb to that in 2018. We’re made for community and relationship, so embrace it! Find people you can be raw with and watch the fruit overflow! Nothing gives you permission to live joyfully the way community does.
  5. Dare God. Don’t click ‘exit’ yet. This is one of the best ways to start fresh! Dare God to do His best work in your life. Ask Him what resolutions He has for you? Give him the reins, and hop into the passenger seat. Odds are, He’s already got something incredible in the works, and He can’t wait to tell you about it.

Maybe these tips will work, or maybe you’ve heard them before. Regardless, we’ve got a feeling that there’s “more” to life than yearly to-do lists that never get finished, and we’re betting the “more” looks a lot like love in all directions.

Happy New Years!

-TWF

Open Table

Open Table

Written by Matthew Frantz


What is one of the few things that everyone must do?

We must all eat! This is a matter of survival, and we can all understand the importance of meals. There is no argument about our need to eat; it is just a means of life to have food. This dependence on food has the beautiful opportunity to unite all people because it provides an avenue to sit down and connect with our most basic needs. Our need for sustenance drives us towards community. Throughout history, meals were most successful in community and they provided an opportunity to share with neighbors. What better time to think about communal meals than during the holiday season, when we all sit down with loved ones and share meals together in order to catch up and grow closer with one another. Meal sharing goes well beyond just food; we share our lives over meals as we sit down and rest.

Meals are crucial to community because they allow everyone to contribute to the common good and they provide an opportunity for everyone to share the stories of their lives over a few hours of being still. By sharing meals, everyone joins a collection and new bonds are formed between people. Barriers break down and people who would not generally convene can sit across the table and talk about life together. Meals are one of the best means of hospitality because they provide a response to one of our most basic needs. There are few more hospitable requests than to invite someone over for dinner to share in your work and time. So go out and share meals! Take some time to sit down, eat, and remove yourself from the hustle and bustle of the holiday season!

Is God Always Good?

Is God Always Good?

Is God always good? This is a question asked by many people, believers and non-believers. How can God be all good when there are bad things that happen? What about the God that is wrathful in the Old Testament? This subject has stumped people for ages. One thing I do know about my God is that He is intentional. He works all things for the good of those who love him (Romans 8:28). Whatever storm you are going through, small or large, the Lord is faithful and will see you through it. He will work for your good. Don’t be discouraged if you are upset or feel hurt. Job, one of the Lord’s most faithful servants, became upset and frustrated towards God after everything was taken away from Him. Yet the Lord forgave him, and ended up blessing him more than he was blessed before because he was faithful (Job 42:10)

So don’t give up! Don’t be discouraged! Our God is bigger than our problems. He is constantly at work, and loves you as His child (1 John 3:1). Hard times will define who you are. Will you turn away from God and blame Him? Or turn to Him and embrace His bigger plan?

Written by Garrett Hall, a Senior at OSU studying Physical Therapy.

Depression + The Mustard Seed

Depression + The Mustard Seed

I went to Colorado for spring break; the soft chilly air enveloped every surface. After being diagnosed with severe depression and a panic disorder I craved the unfamiliar cold. There were a million options placed in front of me when I left the hospital; instead of choosing my next steps, I ran off to see mountains. I chased the adventures, the thrill-seeking distractions, to avoid facing the pain I felt. But there wasn’t enough adrenaline I could gain that could stop me from storming out of the rooms in my mind. It was easy to pretend I was fine but the reality was I needed help.

When I returned home from the trip I was joyful briefly, the reality of my mental health set in and I lost myself in waves of depressive episodes and fear. It felt like my mind was breaking up with my body and hopelessness was the replacement. I avoided my bible, avoided talking to Jesus, I ran out of words to say. A passage in the bible flashed through my thoughts after several weeks of struggling. It was about the disciples who could not heal a young boy of his demons and asked they Jesus why they could not perform. And Jesus answered, “Because you have so little faith. For truly I tell you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

I ask Jesus for mustard seed faith daily. Depression is mental illness but also a mountain I need moved continuously. For many who struggle with their mental health, asking for help can seem like an impossible task.

Since that trip to Colorado I’ve grown in my personal faith but also in my mental health. The understanding, that living with a mental illness is not impossible keeps me moving forward. I strive to share my story with others in hopes that they find their mustard seed too.

 

By Neke Carey

I Can’t

I Can’t

I’m going to say something that may sound weird to you, so get ready.  I think the beginning to a freedom-filled pursuit of Jesus start’s with two words: I can’t. 

Okay. Bear with me for a minute. In my fourth and final year at OSU, I’ve begun to see something that absolutely plagues college students and their relationships with Jesus. It’s this idea that we have to perform for Him and be good enough for Him. I don’t know where or when this idea sprang up, but I think it’s pretty destructive. These subversive messages creep into our friendships, our sermons, our prayers: be this way so that Christ will love you; behave like this so that the church will accept you; avoid failure so you can be a worthy Christian. About a month ago, I realized I had been desperately trying to live up to those expectations, which resulted in a lot of pain and hopelessness in my own life. I couldn’t do it.

Here’s what happens when we think we have to perform a certain way for Jesus. We become responsible for the relationship. We become responsible for salvation. We become responsible for provoking His love.

Wow. That sounds like too heavy a burden for us. In fact, it is. There’s no life there, just back-breaking expectations, inevitable guilt, and fear of punishment. Jesus never intended for us to live that way. He never intended for us to be responsible for our relationship with Him. Did you hear that? The burden of your relationship with Jesus doesn’t rest on your shoulders, it rests on Jesus. And, in case you ever forget, He established your relationship once and for all between two pieces of wood. You’re sealed in Him.

Jesus never had any illusions about you. He knows the sin you are capable of. He knew about it all before He chose you. He is not surprised, therefore He is not disappointed. He knows where you will fall short. He knows your quirks, your darkness, your shame, your secrets. And He has never been, nor will He ever be, intimidated by any of it.

Jesus never asked us to perform for Him. He certainly knows we can’t be good enough for Him on our own. Alone, we will fail every single time. With Him, we’ll win every single time.

That’s why I think I can’t is such an important statement in this pursuit of Jesus. It liberates us from the illusion that we can do a single thing to provoke God’s love and favor. It liberates us from the foolish idea that we can ever get righteous on our own. We can’t. My righteousness is actually Christ’s responsibility. How cool is that? I can’t do it on my own. I get to do it with Jesus. And, if I invite Jesus into it, I’m destined to win.

Today, try admitting the truth. On your own, you can’t. But that’s just the way Jesus intends it to be. He wants to do life with you. He wants to grow with you. He loves watching how Grace transforms you. He is patient, committed, and in love with you.

I can’t. But He can. 

 

Written by Nina Kazarian