how CAN i LACK nothing?

Psalm 23:1 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want (I won’t lack anything) 

Try as you may, you will never find a more wonderful statement and truth in all literature found anywhere in the world. It is simply profound, with the most culturally divergent implications. 

You may feel like I’m overenthusiastic, hyped up, a bit excited, too cheer leaderish. You may feel you  like you need to temper my expectations – bring a bit of balance. I can understand that… in most  contexts. But seriously meditate on this truth for a few minutes. Set this truth in the front of your mind  and let all real worries, concerns, sufferings, pains, heartaches, etc pass before it. You will find that  this one simply profound truth (The LORD is my shepherd), when it is experienced, will diminish all  real worries, concerns, sufferings, pains, heartaches, etc. Nothing can stand up against it.  

Note that in the paragraph above, I wrote,
‘when it is experienced’. Too many of us know about this  truth, but do not experience it. By ‘experience’ I DO NOT mean some divine incident that comes to us  from outside ourselves and takes us by surprise. There is that, but I do not mean that. What I mean  by ‘experience’ is a life that results from the decision to live according to a truth that we believe more  than we believe anything else. We believe we live in Australia, we believe in day and night, we believe  in days and months and years, we believe we are part of a family, and we believe we have a job or  school to go to. We live our lives according to the things we truly believe. When we truly believe that  the LORD is my shepherd, and we live our lives accordingly, and the experience has a profound  influence on every other aspect of our lived experience. 

Reflect on this quote by Dallas Willard: 

“One of our greatest needs today is for people to really see and really believe the things  they already profess to see and believe. Knowing about things—knowing what they are,  being able to identify them and say them—does not mean we actually believe them. When  we truly believe what we profess, we are set to act as if it were true. Acting as if things are  true means, in turn, that we live as if they were so.”

1 Willard, Dallas. Life Without Lack (p. xv). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.

Here are some questions from Phillip W. Keller, A shepherd and Christian. 

1. Do I really belong to Jesus? 

2. Do I really recognise His right to me? 

3. Do I respond to His authority and acknowledge His ownership? 

4. Do I find freedom and complete fulfillment in this arrangement?  

5. Do I sense a purpose and deep contentment because I am under His direction? 6. Do I know rest and repose, besides a definite sense of exciting adventure, in belonging to  Him?  

Questions 2-6 can be deepened by asking it as a ‘how’ question or adding ‘explain’ at the end. 

“If so, then with genuine gratitude and exaltation I can exclaim proudly, just as David did,  “The Lord is my shepherd!” And I’m thrilled to belong to Him, for it is thus that I shall flourish  and thrive no matter what life may bring to me.”2 

If this is not the case, don’t fake it. Rather repent and make it true.  

An exercise in logic: The Statement and the Result are inseparable. 

If the LORD is my shepherd; I lack nothing. 

If the LORD is not my shepherd; I will lack (ultimately everything). 

If I lack nothing; it’s because the LORD is my shepherd. 

If I lack something; it’s because the LORD is not my shepherd. 

Lacking nothing as feeling, is a lived experience of a profound sense of contentment and hope. Lacking nothing as thought, is a lived experience of a mind filled with peace and hope in all situations. Lacking nothing as physical, is a lived experience of e.g. infinite joy through all finite circumstances. I.e. Lacking nothing is the lived experience of the Christian life, life in the Kingdom of God.  

Final Thought: 

The most amazing fact in the entire world is that – The LORD is my shepherd! You will not be able to  improve on that today, tomorrow, or in all eternity. 

2 Keller, W. Phillip. A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 (p. 11). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

Insatiability & More-ism

The reality is that,  unless the rubber hits the road on the truths we believe, there is no known lived experience  of the Goodness of Jesus. Jesus is enough. 

If you have everything you want, but not Jesus, you will be left wanting  If all you have is Jesus, and nothing else, you will always have enough.

Reflect on this quote by Dallas Willard: 

“One of our greatest needs today is for people to really see and really believe the  things they already profess to see and believe. Knowing about things—knowing  what they are, being able to identify them and say them—does not mean we  actually believe them. When we truly believe what we profess, we are set to act  as if it were true. Acting as if things are true means, in turn, that we live as if they  were so.”1

Psalm 23:2

He makes me lie down in green pastures

He leads me beside still waters

Horrific Newsflash! There has been a discovery of a virus, which is far worse than COVID. It is  highly contagious. While it isn’t always externally visible to others, it is never asymptomatic - the  infected person will suffer greatly whether it is recognised or not. Shockingly, this virus has been well  known in Perth for many years, but leaders and health officials are reluctant to speak about it as the  vaccine is too costly. The sickness is called cum-infirmum-insatiabilis or morbus-discontent-tristitia.  Those are difficult to understand latin words – so for our understanding I’ll call it more-ism. More-ism  is a terrible disease that affects body, mind, and soul. It is broadly spread in every section of society.  Many in this room may be infected. How do you know if you are? 

Well ‘cum-infirmum-insatiabilis’ or ‘morbus-discontent-tristitia’ or ‘more-ism’ is actually very easy to  diagnose through a set of questions about common familiarities. 

Do you think, feel or believe that you need more… 

o Intimacy - Intimate relationships (to experience being loved and to give love) 

o Validation - Achievements that validate your abilities and give you meaning

o Approval – Followers / likes on Social Media, to keep you buoyant  

o Security - Money: increase in your savings or income or investments

o Comfort & Escape - Experiences, holidays, vacations, or trips

▪ With the boys

▪ With the girls

▪ With the family

▪ By yourself

o Vanity - weight loss, muscle gain, gravity fighting modifications… 

o Narcissism - Airtime to talk about yourself / others talking about you. 

Because these are well endorsed familiarities in society, you may not realise that you have more ism. If you answered yes to any of these, there is a good chance you are carrying this virus. While  more-ism appears to have benefits, it actually degrades the healthy parts of the mind, heart, and soul,  until there is nothing truly distinct or substantial about a person, just a sick creation of the disease. A  walking dead. 

So how do we deal with more-ism?  

This Psalm tells us all we need to know about the vaccine.  

1. The LORD is my shepherd; I lack nothing. (NIV) 
2. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. (ESV)

The foundational work we stand on begs the question: 


The eternal, independent, and self-existent Being:  

The Being whose purposes and actions spring from himself, without foreign motive or influence: 

He  who is absolute in dominion; the most pure, the  most simple, the most spiritual of all essences;  infinitely benevolent, beneficent, true and holy: 

The  cause of all being, the upholder of all things;  infinitely happy, because infinitely perfect; and  eternally self-sufficient, needing nothing that he has  made; illimitable in his immensity, inconceivable in  his mode of existence, and indescribable in his  essence; 

known fully only by himself, because an  infinite mind can only be comprehended by itself. 

In  a word, a Being who, from his infinite wisdom,  cannot err or be deceived; and, from his infinite  goodness, can do nothing but what is eternally just,  right, and kind. 

Jesus claimed to be both LORD and Shepherd. So, what does having the LORD be my SHEPHERD mean? It means: I truly lack nothing.

However, that does not include all I want. That is just demonstrably untrue. 

Who has ever had that experience? 

A worthy thought to ponder on:

If you could have anything but Him, you would end up with nothing. 

If you could only have Him, you would lack nothing. 

1 Willard, Dallas. Life Without Lack (p. xv). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.

standing in Your right: rest & redemption

So what are the promises of God when He is Your Shepherd?

The first thing you do not lack, when the LORD is your shepherd is: REST. 
This reminds me of Genesis. In Genesis, everything was made in 6 days. The sixth day was a kind of  orientation day, where God explained Adam and Eve’s job description to them. They woke up on the  seventh day ready to go to work, but that wasn’t what God wanted. The seventh day was a day for  Adam and Eve to feast on the fellowship they had with God – to rest. To enjoy God’s presence. 

In  Gods order of creation, Resting in His presence comes before doing His will. Resting is feasting on  the presence of the shepherd. 

Genesis: Resting with Jesus, readies us for service of Jesus. Rest precedes work

This also reminds me of the Redemption. The gospel is a bit like the 6th day. You are introduced to a  loving God, who tells you of all He has done on your behalf to give you a new birth into his new  creation. And justification, being saved by faith in Jesus, is a bit like the 7th day. A day to rest in the  presence of God. A day to know that you are his, to know that you belong to him, to enjoy fellowship  with him. 

Redemption: Resting in Jesus, readies you to live for Jesus. Rest precedes work

So it makes sense that when the LORD is my shepherd, the first thing I come to realise that I do not  lack, is rest – an invitation to feast on the presence of the Shepherd. Regardless of circumstances, he  makes me rest in him.  

So then, why would we ever not rest?  

A shepherd, Philip Keller, writes that there are four reasons a sheep will not rest: they can be  summarized as Fear, Friction, Flies, and Famine. If any of those factors are in play. The sheep will not  rest.  However, the sheep are incapable of dismissing any of them. They are entirely vulnerable to all of  them.  Only the genuine presence of the shepherd removes these obstacles.

1. Fear: 
There are dangers. Sheep are helpless. They have no defences. But when the  shepherd is amongst them, sheep become visibly calmer. 
Life is full of uncertainties for us. Today  could bring disaster, or danger, or distress into your life. Each day has potential for its own troubles.  Life is full of unknowns and complexities. We would choose to escape them if we could, but we can’t.  The only thing that changes everything, is the awareness of the presence of our shepherd and the  knowledge that my Shepherd, my owner, the LORD, my friend has everything under His  control, far beyond momentary appearances, He is working out his eternal vision for my life;  the restoration of my mind, body, and soul. “I can rest in His arms”.  

2. Friction: 
Communities of sheep need help in their relationships. They have a social order.  The bigger strong sheep will butt the weaker sheep away from the best food and resting spots. Sheep  will even push each other off cliffs. They can be self-centred. The shepherd ensures that in a  community of sheep, they are all cared for. The shepherd looks after the weak, young, vulnerable  sheep and disciplines the bullish wayward sheep. One may even go so far as to say, he favours the  weak sheep. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew  11:28. 
A church can suffer self-centred conflicts and competition. Every church, every flock of  sheep, needs the presence of the Shepherd to put a stop to conflicts and competition, and to  encourage and enable us to love one another, forgive one another, be kind to one another, and to  look out for one another. In his presence, the church rests from conflict and competition  because our eyes are collectively turned upon Jesus. You’re only able to fight when looking  focusing on your-self or others. Once we’re looking to him, we no longer have cause for  conflict or competition. The absence of conflict and competition in the presence of Jesus is  peace and rest in the lived experience of the believer.  

3. Flies: 
The sheep cannot rest in their environment. A myriad of flies and bugs and diseases  pester them. The sheep must be in the Shepherds care so that they can be covered in his anointing  ointment. 
We too face annoyances, irritations, frustrations. I wrote a short poem about it: The music was too loud. 

The songs are all too wrong.  

The music was too soft. 

The sermon was too long.  

The church is far too big. 

The building is way too small.  

They all arrived too late. 

They didn’t arrive at all.  

The meeting is too early. 

The coffee wasn’t great.  

They children are chaotic. 

There’s no one here to date. 

They asked me intrusive questions. 

No even one asked my name

They didn’t practice COVID safety. 

If there’s a second wave, Kingscross is to blame. 

But the presence of the Shepherd, through the Holy Spirit, anoints us with his balm. The fruit of the  Holy Spirit is love and joy and peace and patience and kindness. In other words, he covers me in a  healing balm, to chase away futile frustrations. 
When I feel like frustrating flies are hovering at my  nostrils I can run bleating to him, asking for his help, and he can place his balm upon me,  cover me, help me avoid silly disruptions. 

4. Famine: 
The sheep must not be hungry or thirsty in order to rest. When they lie down, it is  because they are satisfied that the shepherd has and will be able to meet their needs. ///// It’s here  that we find a problem. In our culture of more-ism, providing needs always means enough to be  independent and autonomous: Aka excess. But that is not what David pictured and it’s not what Jesus  or any other Israelite imagined. David is king. He experienced opulence. Yet, because he didn’t have  more-ism, he understood his soul.  
If you’re lucky, during the short rainy season. You could maybe find a patch of grass like this.   But generally, the region looked more like this:

Those lines are apparently where the shepherd leads the sheep along the mountain (R.V.L.). The  sheep are able to reach up and down and feed along those lines. What they hope to find is called  ‘green pastures’:  

The shepherds use an immense amount of skill, knowledge, and energy to determine where to lead  the sheep. They know that the Mediterranean breeze will cause condensation on one side of the  mountain. They know where to find green pastures. Where the conditions are right, even in a desert.  They also know where to find still waters. When it rains in the Negev, a place David and Jesus would  know, there are flash floods.  

Sheep can’t drink from fast moving water. These streams will kill them. But the shepherds know how  to find calm streams of water, even in the Negev.  

Jesus knows that we need to feed and drink. Jesus knows that we can’t follow him without good food  and water. Jesus said: “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink.” John 7:37. Life leaves us  hungry and thirsty, and there is nothing in life that will feed your soul the way Jesus does.

More-ism  causes us to feed on spiritual junk food, on poison to the soul, on fast food products that look good,  sound good, but do nothing for us. Jesus feeds us in His presence. Even in the desert of life,  Jesus know how to lead us to green pastures and still waters. He will give you enough so that  you can rest. 

Here is his wisdom. He gives you enough for today. The tufts of grass remind us that all things come  from God – that we depend on him. Jesus gives you the grace you need for today. Jesus gives you  the food you need for today. If you’re trying to fill your more-ism pantry, forget it. Jesus is going to give  you what you need. With Jesus you will always have enough. And enough is what you need.  More-ism will destroy you, but contentment in the presence of the Shepherd will give you life. 

In all these situations please note that it is the shepherd who makes the rest possible. The sheep are  vulnerable, disruptive, exposed, and needy. But the shepherd bears the burden of this. The good  shepherd is good because he takes care of all these needs. All we can do, is come to him.  

What is the vaccine to more-ism? 

= Coming to the Shepherd. Resting in his presence.  

In Matthew Jesus said that the sheep wondered off. He also said that he left the 99 to go and collect  it. Sheep never return. They do not have a homing device. They are not sensible. Nor are we really.  So Jesus, left heaven and entered the world to bring back Gods sheep. We cannot get home without  him. And he puts us on His back and he carries us home. That’s the effort, that the heart, that’s how serious He is about caring for His sheep. And today, He invites his sheep, to come to him and rest. Rest from the fears that disrupt your life.  

Rest from the frictions and factions with others. 

Rest from inescapable futile flies that disturb everything that is beautiful. 

Rest from joyless famine, from a dry soul, a dead spirituality, a meaningless life.  Feast in Jesus’ presence – 

Rest in Him.