Losing Your Cool…When the Heat’s On!

Blog Post by Stan Kellner – www.stankellner.com.

(Read Psalm 1 and Jeremiah 17:5-8)

 I believe it was on our first Israel trip.  We had just finished touring a number of sites up in the Galilee region, came down to Yardenit (just south of the Sea of Galilee) for some baptisms – awesome time by the way – and we prepared for the long trek down to the Dead Sea where we’d stay overnight.

Can’t remember if it was coming or going from the Dead Sea but as we were driving along the dry and desolate road all of a sudden a bush blows across right in front of us.  My first impression was, “What in the world?  Are we in West Texas?” 

Tumbleweed blew past, and, in Israel no less!  I came to find out through further research and discussion that this “Israeli tumbleweed” was a Juniper bush.  Juniper bushes are known for their shallow roots.  As little rain as the Dead Sea gets, these bushes get very little water; thus their roots stay shallow and near the surface.  So, you can see why, at the first big wind after much heat, the poor little Juniper is at the mercy of the elements.

Interestingly, I contrasted this picture with what we had just experienced driving along the Jordan River from Galilee down to the Dead Sea.  There were many, many trees BUT mostly along the river.  Why?  Simple answer I’m sure – there’s water nearby. That is very true.  But another thing takes place, again because of the limited water sources in Israel.

As trees grow near the Jordan, the roots go deeper, almost like they’re on a mission to find water well below the surface.  The deeper the search, the deeper the roots.  Contrasting those trees with the Juniper bushes, great winds can come along and not bother the trees.  Why?  Because they have deep roots that hold the tree in place.  How about dry times? No problem!  Those trees are depending on water sources deep below the surface.  Thus, those parched times don’t impact the tree’s roots. 

Are you getting the picture here? 

A question I ask myself often as I read passages like Psalm 1 and Jeremiah 17 is – “How deep are my roots?”  Do I keep my life close to the surface and get impacted by every trial that comes along.  The honest answer is, “Yes, all too often”. 

When the heat is on in my life, am I on a mission to go deeper in the Word or am I clinging to my surfacy existence?

So how do I apply this?

  • You and I both experience heart-wrenching trials in our lives.  Ever have a job that you loved get ripped right out of your life? Ever face the sudden loss of a loved one and haven’t the foggiest idea what in the world just took place? 
  • Heat in our lives is inevitable.  We can either get blown away because of our surfacy orientation or we can see our roots grow deeper as we find the source of hope that is deeper than us.
  • Heat is also necessary in the growth process.  Healthy plants need just the right amount of heat, cool, light, dark, water, dryness, etc.  So why would we expect it to be any different in our journey with Jesus?  Believe me when I write this – I’ve been there – I’ve doubted big-time, I’ve turned my back on God.  But when I recognize that He is the One allowing these experiences in my life, I try to ask God to help me sit up and take notice – What is He teaching me (again)?  Do these trials drive me away from God or closer to Him?  I’m daily trying to answer this for myself.  Only you can answer this for yourself.

Understanding God’s Wool!

Blog entry by Stan Kellner – www.stankellner.com.

(Read John 10:1-15)

How sheepish of me to take a sheep shot regarding the title of this devotional.  Okay, I’ll stop.

Seriously, sheep are interesting animals.  Cute as all get out.  On many, many occasions throughout our Israel excursions we would see sheep hanging out, feeding, following their shepherd, resting in the middle of a meadow, etc.  Their wool can grow so thick that it’s hard to tell, when you’re petting them, where the wool ends and their skin begins.

Curious that God would use the sheep metaphor so often in the Bible to illustrate our journey with Jesus, our Great Shepherd.  According to Phillip Keller (a shepherd for many years) in his marvelous book, “A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23”, sheep tend to be rather helpless, somewhat  dumb or simple-minded, prone to wander, often times top-heavy, easily disoriented when leaving the flock and, at times, totally defenseless against the predators of the night.

Wow.  If I didn’t know any better, I’d say I just described the core discussion of most psychologist or psychiatrist counseling appointments.  Oops.  I hope I didn’t step on anyone’s toes.  But think about it. 

It is SO easy for us to depend on ourselves, make our way in the world, man-up or woman-up, be the captain of our fate, go where no man has gone before.  Okay, now I’m getting carried away.

The point?  Look again at the description of a sheep then look in the mirror.  Yes, I’ll look in the mirror too!  All of us have those tendencies and boy, when we allow them full control, do we get in trouble!

Maybe, just maybe, the gentle Shepherd is trying to say to us – “Okay, so you can be rather simple-minded, go your own way, be stubborn, resist my love or my guidance.  But, you know what?  I still love you.  Yes, I STILL love YOU.  I didn’t die in spite of you.  I died because I made you and knew the trouble you were in and I knew you needed me to rescue you and love you and grow you into maturity. 

Have you heard the Good Shepherd speaking to you in this devotional?

  • Linger over the words in John 10:1-5.  Jesus loves you and wants to be your Shepherd.  His way is much better. 
  • While you’re at it, it may not hurt to meditate on Psalm 23 as well.
  • Take a good look at your life and ask our gentle Shepherd to show you how to hear His voice more clearly.
  • As you hear His voice more clearly, ask Him to help you love Him more deeply and obey Him more readily.