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How long can a dog go without eating? Most dogs I know don’t eat as much as people think. I have an old Doberman, who would eat a chicken egg in one bite. I would feed him a few more than that, and he would eat his share. But he would go a day, two days, and then just sit there and stare at me. He really liked it when I would let him in, he would just sit there with the door open, wagging his tl, trying to get in, and he’d start to salivate.
And he’d stare at me, wondering what I was going to feed him. Sometimes I had some, and he’d just sit there wagging his tl, trying to get into the house.
After a few days, he’d go a few more days without eating. He’d be looking at me, wondering, as he would eat a few more days without eating.
Finally, I had to let him out. After a few more days, he was still looking at me, and I had to let him out. He’d come back, looking at me, hoping I had fed him.
He just had to starve for a while before I would let him back into the house.
We know how fast they can learn, how they can learn, in a few days. So how long can a dog go without eating?
If it has the personality of a Doberman, it might just go a few days. Then it would starve agn, for a while.
Eventually, if I would bring it into the house, it would eat.
But if I had an old Doberman, it might take a week, or two, or more. It depended on how it was rsed. It might have been starved.
Eventually, the old Doberman could eat like a pig.
And the point I’m trying to make is this. If you are the head dog, your job is to take care of your family, and look after them.
You can’t leave them all alone. If you do, they will eat each other.
That’s why Jesus says, “Feed my lambs.”
This is where the “herd and fold” analogy comes in.
That’s where I get the title for this book. You can feed a herding dog or a folding dog. And that’s the difference between the herding and the folding shepherd.
If you want to know what Jesus wants, and needs to hear from his shepherds, that’s what he says.
If you want to know what he says he wants, then the herding and the folding don’t come into play. That’s what I mean by shepherd and sheep.
I will tell you strght up – I have not been a herding or folding pastor.
I have been a shepherding shepherd.
In the New Testament there’s a little story about an ewe and a flock of sheep.
There’s a shepherd with his flock. Then one of his lambs is killed by a wolf. The shepherd has to decide who is the mother. Is she the sheep who has been killed or is she the mother sheep who kept the lamb safe?
He makes a judgement call. He goes to the mother sheep and says, “Is this lamb your lamb?”
She says, “No.” She’s a sheep with her lamb and will do what the shepherd asks. But the shepherd says, “Yes,” and asks her to become the mother. And she does.
Now, that’s the way I think about the role of the pastor in the church.
Is this sheep the mother sheep who has the child and has died?
If the answer is yes, then the shepherd needs to ask who’s going to be the mother.
God’s done the asking. The father and son relationships we have in the New Testament were created by God, and they weren’t created by the two of them – even if they had the intention of creating those relationships, they had to create a father and son relationship first. God created it for us. God didn’t create it. God’s presence created it. God can create a relationship between you and Jesus, but we have to be willing to allow it to happen.
Now, I hear this question all the time from people, “But can you tell me about God’s family, and what it’s like?” They want to know what it’s like. And I have to stop and say, “Well, I can’t. I don’t know.” We’re not talking about any kind of scientific experiment. We’re talking about relationships. The Bible doesn’t teach scientific theories. The Bible’s all about relationships. So, we can’t answer that question because I don’t know. I’m not there. I’m not in God’s family. But God’s in my family. The relationships I have with God – and you have the same relationships with God – were created by God. That’s part of the problem of this life, though. We get so accustomed to creating things ourselves and things by ourselves. We’re so busy creating what we’re going to eat for dinner and who’s going to be on our baseball team that it’s hard to even notice the creator. God invites us to make choices about that. God is the greatest artist in the universe, and He is also the greatest cook in the universe. That’s what I want to talk about today.
How do we create a family in this life? Let me give you an example of how God created my family. You think about it. You’re the closest family member, right? Your parents and your grandparents are your family. You think about what God did when He created you and brought you into your parents’ and grandparents’ family. He brought in your great-grandparents. He brings in your great-great-grandparents. It’s His process. If you think about how God created you and brought you into your parents’ and grandparents’ family, you’d be amazed at how He creates families in this life. He creates relationships just like He created me and you. God doesn’t get tired of making relationships.
He created our families and relationships by inviting someone to be our partner in our family. Just like the way He creates families in this life, God invites us to create families by inviting someone to be our partner. I want to encourage you to make choices about who you invite into your family this life. Are you ready to make choices about who you invite into your life this life? Maybe it’s someone right now. Maybe it’s someone you haven’t even thought about, but God has already brought you to that person. He’s brought you to that person in different ways. He’s brought you through a relationship with God, through a relationship with a spouse, or through a relationship with a friend. That is the best way that I know to create a family in this life. When you start to think about ways that God has brought you to someone, you realize, “