Greetings and Welcome!

My goal is to share encouragement, grace, and hope from God’s Word, and to brighten your day. Mission trips abroad have enlarged my heart and reminded me once again that regardless of our skin color or location we all need a savior, and His name is Jesus. I pray that my articles will lift your spirits and point you to the One who loves you most.

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This Month's Message

Tough and Tender
By Fran Caffey Sandin

Running my fingers through the soft, white, fluffy sheepskin we purchased as a souvenir from New Zealand, I remembered an incident from our tour.

A herd of cows remained calm and continued grazing on the left side of a barbed wire fence while my husband and I rode in a rickety old vehicle to view some unusual birds near the coastline. Gravel popped beneath its wheels and a cloud of dust followed the van as it roared up the hill, but the animals didn’t seem to notice. They kept eating grass and didn’t even look up.

On the opposite side of the road, however, a group of sheep dispersed and ran wildly away from the fence as we drove by. The driver laughed and said, “I make this trip about six times a day and the cows never pay attention, but the sheep scatter like it was the first time they saw the van--every time I go by!”

When I remember those sheep, which in New Zealand are more numerous than people, it caused me to think about the Biblical references and comparisons. According to the late Dr. Haddon Robinson, the Scriptures refer to sheep, lambs, ewes, sheepfolds, and shepherds about 600 times. God seems to be saying, “If you (sheep) want to know something about Me, watch a faithful shepherd.”

Without a doubt, sheep need a shepherd. Why? They are easily frightened and defenseless; if their coats are wet and they fall, they cannot get up by themselves; they stray easily and look for greener grass; they simply do not know where to go. They rely on the shepherd for safety from wild animals, for sustenance, and guidance. They depend on their shepherd who knows each one under his care and calls them by name. They know his voice. Every night before entering the sheepfold, the shepherd counts his sheep. If one is missing, he finds the lost one, and carries it on his shoulders back to the fold. The rod and the staff are symbols of the shepherd’s power. He is both tough and tender.

We learn a great deal about shepherds and sheep from the Psalms of David. Have you ever been: Overcome with fear? In need of protection?; Overworked? Wanted to run away? Felt insignificant? Desired unconditional love? In Psalm 23, David declared, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” David had experienced that close relationship because he knew the shepherd. Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep” (John 10: 14-15 ESV).“My sheep hear my voice and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand” (John 10: 27-28 ESV).

Jesus personally tends his flock of followers and He desires a personal relationship with each one of us. Do you know Him?

Dear Heavenly Father, As we receive the gift of Jesus and His sacrifice, we can rest in the assurance our confessed sins are forgiven. He leads us in paths of righteousness. We will praise and thank you forever for providing our tough and tender Shepherd. In Jesus’ name, A-men.