was ordained into ministry in the Crystal Cathedral in September
of 1980. I had only been in ministry several years, but
I'll never forget the pain I felt when I thought that my
ministry was coming to an end and I thought I no longer
had the qualifications for ministry.
January 8, 1984 I stood before a congregation of the small
church which I had founded and made an announcement which
was the darkest period of my life. I had kept a secret within
my heart for several months. I was afraid to tell anyone.
I was afraid to share it with a soul because I thought it
would eliminate any hope of reconciliation. The announcement
I made that Sunday was that I would no longer be married
to my first wife and that we were going through a divorce.
I felt I was no longer qualified to be a pastor. I felt
that God could no longer use me. The only thing I could
do was pray.
was then that I started praying a prayer that I have continued
to pray to this day. It is the only thing that got me through
and it is the only thing that will get any of us through
the needs and the valleys in which we find ourselves. I
prayed, "Lord, Shepherd me," because I needed
to feel the touch of the Shepherd's hands in my life.
me Lord," when the sheep are lost, the sheep need a
Shepherd, and I was lost. I was in despair and I felt I
had lost everything. At that point all I could pray was,
"Shepherd me, Lord." I read the 23rd
Psalm, "The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want."
As I prayed that prayer I visualized Christ, going out into
the world and into the fields and looking for His lost sheep
as He promised He would do. He promised he would go and
he would save his sheep and he would bring his sheep back
home. I pictured the Good Shepherd carrying me and leading
me through those valleys and I stand here today as a testimony
of how God will carry us through the valleys. The Shepherd
knows his sheep; He knows every single one of us.
Shepherd knows what we need even more than we know ourselves.
The Shepherd cares for his sheep and the Shepherd tends
his sheep, and the Shepherd loves his sheep. Even when we
cannot see for ourselves the humanity and the spirituality
that exists within us, the spirit and the human love of
Jesus Christ touches our hearts and our souls and brings
us back to Him. Psalm 23 says, "The Lord is my Shepherd,
I shall not want." When we read those words, "I
shall not want," the translation would probably be
clearer in our common day language as, "I shall have
no need." I have had people come and tell me the bible
tells us not to want anything. I tell them, "You're
taking it all out of context. The Shepherd supplies all
of our needs." As a result of the Shepherd supplying
all of our needs we won't have any needs, all of our needs
will be met by the Good Shepherd, by Jesus Christ, our Lord.
We have needs of shelter, warmth, food, water, and the basics.
These are the things we need to exist and to keep us alive.
A good Shepherd will make sure that all of His sheep have
all of these things.
hierarchy of needs is a theory in psychology that Abraham
Maslow proposed in his 1943 paper A Theory of Human Motivation.
He outlined the hierarchy of needs as follows:
what does Jesus say about meeting our physical needs? "Look
at the birds in the air, they neither toil nor spin yet
your father cares for them, how much more doesn't He care
for you, oh ye of little faith." We won't have any
needs, not as long as we allow the Shepherd to Shepherd
us. As long as we follow the Shepherd our needs will be
met. We all go through tough times. Absolutely, did I go
through tough times? You bet I did. What happens when we
go through tough times?
refer to it as the tea bag philosophy. Just think of a tea
bag when you go through tough times. Why? The hotter the
water, stronger the tea! Got it? Hotter the water, stronger
the tea. When you go through tough times, God is in process
of bringing out the richness and the beauty that is lying
underneath of who you are. He allows us to go through these
valleys and tough times so we can truly experience the full
potential that we have as human beings. If we were to simply
go through life without any problems it would be like putting
a tea bag into cold water. All you get is terrible water,
but put a tea bag in hot water and all the beauty and the
joy and the richness and the flavor comes out.
is why God allows us to go through these things, He loves
us, He cares for us, He wants to shape us and mold us as
a way for making us the people He has intended us to be.
That is why he allows these things to take place and unfold
within our lives.
look at the composer of the 23rd Psalm, and David
was a Shepherd. When he says the Lord is my Shepherd he
knows what a Shepherd does. David was a good shepherd. He
cared for the sheep, if there was something around that
was going to threaten the sheep; he took care of the situation.
When he sees this Philistine giant (Goliath), mocking the
people of God, while the others ran away and feared, he
stepped forward and said, "I've killed lions and bears
to protect sheep, surely God will be with me and destroy
this Philistine who comes against His people. I will destroy
this philistine, this giant that comes before you today."
(1 Samuel 17:34-36)
is the composer of the words, "The Lord is my Shepherd.
I shall not want." We find out that the Lord will supply
every single need we have and if that's the case we can
continue on and we can look at the social needs. What does
the bible say about the social needs? It encourages us to
come and to gather together on a regular basis. What are
we doing in Church on a Sunday morning? Christ promises
us, where two or three people gather together in His name,
"There I will be also," says Jesus. His spirit
is among us in Church. His spirit is here because Jesus
said it would be, it is here because we have gathered together,
it is here because we desire to have a social connectedness
and have our social needs met because we understand that
the good Shepherd wants to fulfill all of our needs. He
wants us to be able to interact with other people and to
support one another and to love one another.
an old parable that I was told by Albert Schweitzer. There
was a man who saw some loud geese on a pond and he captured
one of them and he cruelly clipped the feathers on his wings.
When it came time for the flock of geese to fly away they
took off and circled around the lake waiting for the goose
whose wings had been clipped to join them, but he could
not fly. So they flew around a few times and they came back
and they landed on the pond again. A few days later they
decided to leave again and they did the same thing and they
flew around but the goose still could not fly because the
feathers hadn't grown back yet. So they landed again. They
did this for months until finally the goose with the clipped
wings began to fly and they all flew away together. That's
what the church of Jesus Christ is all about; people helping
people, people helping each other get through the tough
times. When I stood in front of the congregation of several
hundred people, which I had built in San Juan Capistrano
and I made the announcement, the finality of it all was
so overwhelming that I simply sat down on the pulpit chairs
and wept; I couldn't do anything but weep. All of a sudden,
one by one the members of the church came up on the platform
and they laid their hands on me and they prayed for me and
they embraced me and they loved me. It was the beginning
of healing. When we go through these tough times and we
see family members and friends and colleagues going through
the toughest times of life it's easy for us to be condemning
and condescending. However, Christ wants us to be loving
and caring and embracing. That's what the church is all
about. That's what the bible is all about. Christ reaches
out, He reaches through the hierarchy of needs and he reaches
every single one, he reaches our physiological needs, he
reaches our security needs, he reaches our social needs,
he reaches our esteem needs.
think the Bible understands the importance of our esteem,
our need of appreciation and being well regarded by others.
As you read through the gospels, you see over and over again
the affirming words of the relationship that we have with
God. You see that we're God's children, we're Christ's friend,
that we have been justified, that we're reunited with the
Lord, that we belong to God, that we're members of God's
family, and that we're saints. We have difficulty understanding
this. Let me put it in the words of the prophet when he
anointed David. The prophet said, "Man looks on the
outside, but God looks at heart." Man only sees the
outward clay, but God sees the jewel within. It's like the
old story of an explorer who was walking along the beach
and he saw a cave and he went inside and there was a bag.
Inside that bag was filled with hundreds of pieces of clay,
round clay balls and so he took them and he found out that
he could throw them really well, like a baseball. He enjoyed
doing that because as they would land in the water they
would break apart and you would see a cloud of dust. After
he had thrown a few dozen in the water, one of them suddenly
slipped out of his hand. As it landed on the ground and
broke open, he found a jewel inside. Then he broke them
all open and he found all of them were filled with jewels,
the clay balls were simply to hide the jewels. And here
he had thrown most of them away!
many people have we thrown away because we can't see the
heart, and we don't express the appreciation we have for
a human and for another person and for our family members
and for our associates.
last need of Maslow is self actualization; winning, achieving,
realizing self potential. If you look at Jesus' last words,
you see where we find our true self potential. Jesus said
to his disciples, "All authority in heaven and on earth
has been given to me, therefore, you go and make disciples
of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father
and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them
to obey everything I have commanded you and surely I am
with you always to the very end of the age." Those
words are not spoken to a select few. Those words are spoken
to every single one of us to make disciples of all nations.
If we're going to make disciples of all nations we start
with our children, baptizing our children. We start with
our brothers and our sisters and our parents and we share
the good news of Jesus Christ and how He can meet all of
their needs. There isn't anything that fulfills self actualization
more than the spiritual realization that God has used you
to have a spiritual impact on another.
text is true, the text is real, the text is there, "The
Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want." Our needs are
fulfilled through Jesus Christ. It happens when we simply
reach the point where we can cry out to God and say, "Shepherd
me, Lord." When He shepherds you along the path, healing
and wholeness begins. I don't know what you are going through
today, but no matter what it is, you can get through. No
matter how low you are, no matter how deep you are today,
the road to healing and success begins by finding stars
in your scars. Allow the beauty and the warmth and the love
within you to come forth. Inside my book, Getting Through
What You're Going Through are two pages where you can start
by listing the ways God is blessing you. It's hard to see
the blessings because the pain is so severe it clouds your
eyes to the realization of God's blessing in your life.
The only way you can see the blessings is to physically
force yourself to write them down. When you write a list
of God's blessings, healing starts to take place.
want to send you a copy of this book. If you're in the depths
today and you can't afford a book, just write to me and
I'll give it to you, you need to have it. If you can enclose
a gift of any amount that would be appreciated, I know we're
asking for a gift of $25. I want to give you a tool that
can help you get through the valleys; I want to help you
get through the valleys and experience the person that God
has called you to be so that you can indeed ignite the potential
that is within you. You have to start someplace so I invite
you to start with me right now, start with a simple prayer
and God will hear your prayer and God will listen to you
and God will lead you out of the valleys and into the light.
Please pray with me right now
God, I give my life to you, and so as I give my life to
you, Shepherd me Lord, lead me out of the darkness and into
the light, out of the depression and into the hope. Out
of the lifestyle that has held me back and into the joy
and the fellowship that you want me to experience. Thank
you, Lord for being my Shepherd today. Amen.