We Want To Be Cats, But We’re Sheep


Maybe I should have titled this post, “I want to be a cat, but I‘m just one of the sheep.” After all, should I be speaking for you?

I’m a little irritated right now at social media in general because The Powers That Be decide for the rest of us what they think we want, without asking us. Today it was Yahoo. Suddenly when I clicked on a new tab, I had a Yahoo search page pop up. I had to deactivate the Yahoo add-on to make it go away.

Sometime ago Facebook decided to speak for me—or more accurately, to think for me—by selecting what they deem to be my “Top Stories.” But they’re no different than Google+ who has determined what other G+ users I would most likely want to invite into my circles.

I think these social networking sites have taken their cue from cars that not only give you directions, but now park for you, change braking capacity under certain conditions, and even give you the hands off driving experience. For some years, those with alarm systems tell you (loudly) when something untoward approaches the vehicle.

The problem is, I’d rather think for myself. I’d rather do the driving because I like driving. I’m a responsible agent and shouldn’t need to be told to put on my seat belt. I like choosing my own routes instead of having a GPS tell me when to turn, and I think map reading is a good skill to have.

But more than that, I don’t want to be told who my friends should be on social media sites or what posts I should want to read. I want to think for myself.

I kind of assumed everyone else felt the same way (which is why I said “we” in the title, but I realize I am sort of playing the role of Facebook by doing so).

Perhaps this desire for independence is part of American Rugged Individualism we hear so much about— some of which I believe to be true. I mean, for people to pull up stakes and move across an ocean or to a foreign land where few people speak their language, they have to have a bit of individualism in them, I think.

And no matter how short or how long an American’s ancestors have been here, there is some value-passing that has preserved that individualistic spirit, that determination to go it alone against great odds.

However, I think there’s some of this independent spirit in all humankind. It’s not actually a good thing, either. It’s our desire, like small children who tell their parents they want to do “it” by themselves, to tell our Father that we can live life on our own.

In spite of this drive for independence, though, we—and this is the right pronoun this time—end up like sheep. Scripture says so. Besides Isaiah 53 that says, “All we like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way” (v. 6a), Jeremiah paints a picture I think reflects our world today:

My people have become lost sheep;
Their shepherds have led them astray.
They have made them turn aside on the mountains;
They have gone along from mountain to hill
And have forgotten their resting place. (Jeremiah 50:6)

The passage originally referred to the Jewish people, but since all Scripture is profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, instruction in righteousness, I don’t think it’s inappropriate to see us Gentiles in the same light—as sheep who are lost, who have shepherds leading them astray.

Now cats—they don’t let anyone lead. They don’t allow for herding. They scatter whithersoever they desire. But us sheep, we go where we ought not go just because everyone else is going there. We don’t always even notice where it is we’re going because we’re not paying all that much attention.

This is why we need a Good Shepherd. Cats, though, even if they had a Good Shepherd, would still go their own way. Eventually they’d end up high in a tree and too scared to climb down, too ornery to let anyone near enough to help them. Maybe being a sheep isn’t so bad. 😀

This post is an edited version of one that first appeared here in October 2011.

Published in: on August 1, 2016 at 6:22 pm  Comments (5)  
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Life Isn’t Complicated


Jesus_the_Shepherd004Too often, in the harried lives we live, with tablet in one hand and cell phone in the other, with polarization in our political arenas and terrorist concerns banging into school shootings, we think life is overwhelming. Some people want to escape, and do so in happy hour or party time or whatever thrill the weekend holds.

Others–Christians, for example–dive into a sweet Amish romance or steep themselves in fandom, whether of their favorite sports team or movie star. Still others live to be involved in their children’s lives. They are the soccer moms who man the snack bar or bring the team treats or drive them to pizza after the game. But they’re also the Little League moms, the AAU basketball moms, the Pop Warner football moms.

Today I was listening to a sermon on the radio by Phillip DeCourcy (Know the Truth) about child rearing. He said, surprisingly, it’s not all that complicated. As he laid out his position from the Bible, I got what he was talking about. And I think it applies to all of life.

Yes, this world changes. There are new technologies to learn, new challenges for parents and children alike, new global circumstances.

But God is the same.

His word is the same. (“The grass withers, the flower fades/But the word of our God stands forever” [Isaiah 40:8]) I tend to think life gets complicated when we start looking at the wrong things. In his letter to the church in Colossae, Paul said,

Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. (3:1-2)

That’s not particularly complicated.

We seek the things above by reading the Word given to us from above. We set our minds on the things by praising God–for who He is, what He’s done, for His plan and purpose, for His care and protection, for His counsel and guidance.

When it rains, we thank Him for the rain. When it doesn’t rain, we ask Him to bring rain, but also to work His purposes through the drought as we wait on Him.

God is omnipresent. He is fully engaged with His creation. It is we who ignore Him, not He who ignores us.

God is also infinite. There’s no limit to His knowledge and understanding. “Who has directed the Spirit of the Lord,/Or as His counselor has informed Him?/With whom did He consult and who gave Him understanding?” (Isaiah 40:13-14a)

Paul also said in Colossians that “He rescued us from the dominion of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (1:13-14)

Really life boils down to one thing. As my pastor said on Sunday, how I live either feeds the darkness, from which I’ve been rescued and to which I own nothing, or feeds the light, the reflection of the image of His Son. I am either living for God or for a false, apostate substitute, which might even be me, myself, and I.

Choose for yourselves this day, Joshua said, whom you will serve. And then choose again tomorrow and again on the day after that and the one after that. Not complicated. But not easy either.

It means loving God more than these, whatever these are today. It could be my desire to be right, to put someone else down, to brag about some accomplishment, to whine and complain about whatever circumstances God has given me, or any number of other things. God wants me to love Him so much those other things fade to nothingness and I simply want to please Him more.

Thanks be to God that He doesn’t abandon us or forsake us, that He gives strength in our weakness.

So, no, life’s not complicated. It’s a matter of letting the Good Shepherd gather us in His arms and carry us in His bosom and gently lead us where He wants us to go.

Published in: on March 11, 2014 at 7:54 pm  Comments (1)  
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We Want To Be Cats, But We’re Sheep


Maybe I should have titled this post, “I want to be among the cats, but I‘m just one of the sheep.” After all, should I be speaking for you?

I’m a little irritated right now at Facebook because they dare to speak for me — or more accurately, to think for me — by selecting what they deem to be my “Top Stories.” But they’re no different than Google+ who has determined what other G+ users I would most likely want to invite into my circles.

I think these social networking sites have taken their cue from cars that not only give you directions, but might park for you and change braking capacity in the rain. Those with alarm systems tell you (loudly) when something untoward is near.

The problem is, I’d rather think for myself. I like driving and don’t really appreciate being told to put on my seat belt. I like choosing my own routes and think map reading is a good skill to have.

But more than that, I don’t want to be told who my friends should be or what posts I should want to read. I want to think for myself and kind of assumed everyone else felt the same way (which is why I say “we” in the title, but I realize I am sort of playing the role of Facebook by doing so).

Perhaps this desire for independence is part of American Rugged Individualism we hear so much about — some of which I believe. I mean, for people to pull up stakes and move across an ocean or to a foreign land where few people speak your language, you have to have a bit of individualism in you, I think.

And no matter how short or how long an American’s ancestors have been here, there is some value-passing that has preserved that spirit of going it alone against great odds.

However, I think there’s some of this independent spirit in all Mankind. It’s not actually a good thing, either. It’s our desire, like small children do with their parents, to tell our Father that we can do it on our own.

In spite of all this drive for independence, though, we — and this is the right pronoun this time — end up like sheep. Scripture says so. Besides Isaiah 53 that says, “All we like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way” (v. 6a), Jeremiah paints a picture I think reflects our world today:

My people have become lost sheep;
Their shepherds have led them astray.
They have made them turn aside on the mountains;
They have gone along from mountain to hill
And have forgotten their resting place. (Jeremiah 50:6)

The passage originally referred to the Jewish people, but since all Scripture is profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, instruction in righteousness, I don’t think it’s inappropriate to see Gentiles in the same light — as sheep who are lost, who have shepherds leading them astray.

Now cats — they don’t let anyone lead. They don’t allow for herding. They scatter whithersoever they desire. But us sheep, we go where we ought not go just because everyone else is going there. We don’t always even notice where it is we’re going because we’re not paying all that much attention.

This is why we need a Good Shepherd. Cats, though, even if they had a Good Shepherd, would still go their own way. Eventually they’d end up high in a tree and too scared to climb down, too ornery to let anyone near enough to help them. Maybe being a sheep isn’t so bad. 😀

Published in: on October 7, 2011 at 6:38 pm  Comments (3)  
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