Scott Gage

PO Box 3425
Fayetteville, AR 72702



November/December Issue 2011 - Volume 30   Number 6

The Lord Is My Shepherd

Someone Needs You

“Nor was there anyone among them who lacked; for all who were possessors of land or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, and laid them at the apostles’ feet; and they distributed to each as anyone had need.”  Acts 20:34-25

We are reminded during the Christmas Season that there are people all around us who need our help or assistance. It is a great season of giving for the needs of our fellowman. I am thankful to say that I know that this spirit lives in the Lord’s church all year long and is not confined to just the Christmas Season.

In the last issue of BC we ran a poem on the last page entitled “Someone Needs You.”  I had received that poem in an email some years ago, and the author’s name was not attached so I just marked it up to Anonymous. I received a note from Bobbie Evans of Ninnekah, OK that named the author of the poem. Here is Bobbie’s note:

Hi Scott, I read your recent Basic Christianity and enjoyed it. I noticed the poem in the back with the author unknown. I knew the writer in Bakersfield before we moved back here for probably 10 yrs or more. She lived with her daughter and came to our church early on. She was blind and lived in deplorable conditions…She was intelligent and so sweet and I would take Donna with me over to visit her…She wrote this poem before I met her sometime before 1986, as she died before we left there and she gave me some of her cards with the poem on it and I have thought many times about the words and have made copies to give to discouraged people. I am enclosing one of the cards. I believe she was 85 when she died, but don’t remember the year; it was probably 40 to 45 years ago…Susie had worked for a newspaper I think. I know Susie would be so pleased to know that you published her poem in the Basic Christianity as I believe she is an angel in waiting.

I have the card that Bobbie sent to me on which the poem is printed. I am so happy to learn a little bit about the dear sister who wrote the poem and to know that the author of the poem is Susie B. Marr, who used to live in Bakersfield, CA. Thanks Bobbie for writing and sharing this information with us.

A few weeks ago I attended the funeral of Willine Davis in Springdale, AR. Brother Larry Branum, who has been associated with the Pleasant St. Church of Christ for many years, preached Willine’s funeral service. After the service I asked Larry if he had his sermon in a written form and, if so, would he mind if I published it in BC. I believe the comfort found in this message is something that should be shared with as many as possible.  Thanks, Larry, for consenting to our using your sermon in this issue. I am leaving Willine’s name in the sermon just as Larry presented it. Willine Davis was the wife of the late Wiley Davis. Wiley was an elder at Pleasant St. for many years and he and Willine were very faithful and loving servants of the Lord.




The Lord Is My Shepherd

 Psalm 23:1-6

I’d like to take a few moments this morning to think about the 23rd Psalm. It’s, by far, one of the most familiar passages of scripture in the Bible. You have heard it at many funeral services. We’ve all received comfort and reassurance from the words in this great Psalm.

It’s like an old friend we’re all familiar with. Yet, familiarity has its downside: You can become so accustomed to the rhythm and sound of the words that you miss some of the meaning. So I’d like to take a closer look at these six short verses of Scripture and ask you to listen to them as if you’ve never heard them before. Like the Cornflakes’ ad, I’d like to invite you to “taste them again for the very first time.”

The passage begins, “The Lord is my shepherd ...”    

The metaphor of the shepherd is used about sixty times in the Bible. It speaks of God’s compassion—how God provides for our needs, protects us from danger and steers us along safe paths, and how, in his mercy, God seeks us when we go astray and brings us back to the fold.

“The Lord is my shepherd ...” It was an image the people of Israel could relate to. Many of them were shepherds. They knew what it meant to go out in front, to lead the way, to be the one who had to decide which path to take. They knew the responsibility the shepherd had to watch over the sheep and guard them from predators. And so, it didn’t take much for them to make the connection. We can easily make that connection, too. To confess the Lord as your shepherd is to place your trust in him, to surrender your will to his will and to follow obediently wherever he leads you.

Willine Davis knew this Psalm; more importantly, she knew this Shepherd. The Lord truly was, and is, her Shepherd. Is the Lord your shepherd? Can you truly say, “The Lord is my Shepherd”? Are you willing to follow his lead and seek his will, or are you determined to chart your own course and say, “I’ll do it my way!”? E. W. Blandly had it right spirit when he penned the words, “Where he leads me I will follow ... I’ll go with him, with him, all the way.”

The Psalm goes on to say, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” When I was a child I thought David was saying, “I don’t want this Shepherd.” 

There are two ways of understanding wants. One is having what you desire, and the other is being content with what you have. The Psalm doesn’t say that God will satisfy our insatiable appetites and give us anything we want; only that God will give us the things we need for a full and abundant life. God wants us to trust him to supply our needs and be grateful for what we have.

The psalm goes on to say, “He makes lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul.”

The Judean wilderness has a lot of sand and rocks with scrub brush here and there. It’s rugged terrain, hot and dry and forbidding. And yet, there are wadis in the wilderness—creek beds, we’d call them—where, often, a tiny stream of water flows. Around these wadis you can find trees and green grass and fertile soil. So it’s these lush areas in the wilderness the psalmist pictures as he sees the Good Shepherd leading the sheep across the jagged hillsides to a place that’s peaceful and serene, a place where they can graze and drink safely.

We all experience seasons of barrenness in our lives, times when it takes all the stamina we can muster just to keep going. We need to remember that it’s times like these when God is there for us to see us through. God’s grace will sustain us through the difficult days when we lose loved ones who were very dear and precious to us. So we lean on his everlasting arms.                  

The Psalm goes on to say, He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.”

It is such a comfort to know that Willine followed the Shepherd in the paths of righteousness. And she did it, not just for her own sake, her own safety, but, “for his name’s sake.” The shepherd leads the sheep in right paths, not just for the sheep’s comfort and pleasure, but because that’s what a good shepherd does. A fine, healthy flock is a testimony to his good name. After all, it’s the shepherd’s reputation that’s on the line, not the sheep’s. If the sheep become lost, it’s the shepherd who has failed. If the sheep prosper and grow, it’s the shepherd who has succeeded. As Christians, when we fail to live up to our calling as children of God, we give the Lord a bad name. But when we are obedient sheep, we reflect the image of God in which we are created, and his name is glorified through us.

When I was growing up, one of the highest compliments I could receive was for someone to say, “Boy, you’re a lot like your daddy.” Well, it’s even better when others could say something like that about us in our relationship to God? “You’re just like your Father.” We can say that about Willine Davis. She became like the Shepherd she followed. What sweeter words could any of us hope to hear?

The psalm goes on: “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”

Let’s be honest, the valley of the shadow of death is a place we’re all a little concerned about. Death has mysteries we can’t fully comprehend. It’s something over which we have little control. No one who’s died has ever come back to describe the experience. Except Jesus! I think this is why we’re fascinated with so-called, “near-death” or, “out-body-experiences.” We’d like to know what to expect. Is it painful? Scary? Do you simply wake up on the other side?

We don’t know all the answers, but we do know it’s an individual experience. Others can be with us and hold our hand and assure us that we’re not alone, but they can’t share the actual experience of death with us. It’s between us and God alone. But here is what we do know, and it is enough to know: God is with us. That is what this Psalm is telling us. His presence in the valley is enough.  

The psalm continues, “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.”

We all have enemies. It’s not just people who don’t like us, or are against us. We have enemies like sickness, aging, and declining health. God’s promise is that, through faith, our enemies will not prevail against us. They won’t have the last word. On the contrary, in the face of our enemies, God throws a party in our honor. We’re able to feast on the riches of God’s grace, even as our minds fail and our bodies grow frail.

The psalmist continues: “You anoint my head with oil, my cup overflows.” 

In the Bible, anointing refers, among other things, to the practice of ordination, or sealing a covenant and bestowing a blessing. The Good News for us today is that Willine was one of God’s anointed! She shared God’s grace and love, was ordained, or set apart, for eternal life.      

The Psalm concludes by saying, “Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”  

This is the bottom line: God did not bring us into this world to abandon us and leave us on our own. God created us in his image and bestowed on us the gift of life in order that we might live in a loving relationship with him and with each other. God is love, and the love of God is from everlasting to everlasting. Wherever the Spirit leads us, for however long we live, we have the assurance of God’s blessings along the way. What’s more, we have the promise of eternal life through the death and resurrection of Jesus.

Willine knew goodness and mercy. She experienced it from God and she dispensed it to others with love. And where does she live now? In the house of the Lord!

Here’s what I hope you’ll take home with you today: The 23rd Psalm is more than just a pretty passage of scripture; it’s a reminder of who we are and whose we are, and where we’re going. Let it remind you of the love of God which enfolds you, the peace of Christ which surrounds you and the power and presence of the Holy Spirit within you, which promises to give you victory over sin and death, now and forever more.


Father, thank you for being Willine’s Shepherd, and that she chose to follow you. Thank you for supplying her every need. Thank you that she is now with you in the green pastures of heaven, beside the quiet waters of the river of life. Thank you for saving her, for restoring her soul, for leading her through this life in paths of righteousness for your name’s sake. Thank you for being with her as she went through the valley of the shadow of death in these last weeks. Thank you, Father, for the great banquet table she shares with you now, without the presence of enemies, which have been vanquished for her. Thank you for the goodness and mercy you granted her throughout her life on earth, and for the fact that she now dwells with you in your house forever.    In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.

…Larry Branum

Springdale, Arkansas


Psalm 23

The shepherd psalm

A Psalm of David.

1 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: He leadeth me beside the still waters.

3 He restoreth my soul: He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.

4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.


No Going Back

Those who are allergic to long lines might want to avoid shopping areas the day after Christmas.  Stores have learned to expect lots of returned gifts on that day.  That sweater doesn't fit?  Take it back. The toy doesn't work?  Return it for a refund.  The past can be erased in a matter of minutes.

That principle doesn't apply in all areas of life.  An example was reported by the Associated Press on December 16.  The PNC Bank in West Newton, PA was robbed on December 9.  The bank received an envelope a couple of days ago filled with most of the money that was stolen.  No amount was given in the story, but the money represented about 80% of what had been taken.

Whether returned by the robber or by a family member or friend, the thief is not off the hook.  Even if all of the money was returned, they're still guilty of the crime.  Guilt can't be returned for a full refund.

The arrest and condemnation of Jesus Christ was one of the greatest miscarriages of justice of all time.  Pontius Pilate was the governor in charge of Jesus' case, and he concluded that the charges against Him were baseless (Luke 23:14, 15).  Justice demanded that one who had been tried and found innocent should be set free.  But the demands of justice were shouted down by the demands of the mob gathered before the governor.

Fearing a riot and the bad report that would get back to his superiors, Pilate caved in to the desire of Jesus' enemies and ordered Him to be executed.  One final statement of protest was made, however: "When Pilate saw that he could not prevail at all, but rather that a tumult was rising, he took water and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, 'I am innocent of the blood of this just Person. You see to it'" (Matthew 27:24).

Pilate's desperate act of self-justification did nothing to improve the verdict of history against him.  If anything, it confirmed his cowardice before the mob.  He obviously saw the injustice of the situation but did nothing to correct it.

It works the same with us.  We each are guilty of falling short of the standard of God's laws (Romans 3:23).  As violators of heaven's statutes, we face a terrible prospect (Romans 6:23).  Will we attempt to wash our hands and insist that our sins were mere mistakes, and we're returning our sins for a refund?  No, the stain left by sin will remain, despite our frenzied attempts to remove it.

Only one cure for iniquity has ever been found.  John wrote about it in the Revelation God gave to him.  When questioned about the identity of multitudes wearing clean white robes, John was told, "... These are the ones who came out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb" (Revelation 7:14). Jesus' blood is the only agent available for removing the guilt of sin.

The cleansing power of that blood is available today, just as it was for Saul (later renamed Paul): "And now why are you waiting?  Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord" (Acts 22:16).  The act of baptism - immersing an individual under water for a moment or two - can do what water could not do for Pilate.  (See also Acts 2:38 and Mark 16:16.)

…Timothy D. Hall

Lightgrams  Dec. 17, 2009




               Last Saturday, ol' man Lister and I were on Lake Stillwater fishing and not being too successful, but when that happens, the conversation is always better.

               I said, “Lister, one thing I've always admired about you is that you always seem content.  You're not the richest man in town, but I never hear you talk about needing more.  How do you stay that way?"

               He said, “Well, kid, I used to want more and more.  But one day my granddad sat me down and said, ‘Ol' man, (he always called me that), you’ve got a problem.’"

               “‘What's that, granddad?’ I asked."

               “He said, ‘You've always got your “wanter” stuck out.  You want this, and you want that, and you're never satisfied.  Now let me tell you how to be content with what you already have.  Just imagine how happy you'd be if you lost everything you have right now - and then got it back again.’"

          Ol’ man Lister concluded, “Kid, I've been content ever since."


You know...I reckon he's right.


Steve McLean

Canyon, Texas


Volume 30  -  Number 6 -  Nov/Dec 2011     BC is published every other month. Send all inquiries, address changes and subscriptions to the editor:  Scott Gage, PO Box 3425, Fayetteville, AR  72702-3425 Voice & Fax 479-521-6809  Email: Lsgage129@cs.com