Volume. XXXii, No. 9
Sunday, 26 August 2018

From the Pastors Heart: Great Shepherd and Under-Shepherds

Some months ago, I heard Rev Paauwe’s message preached in Hope Church through the internet.  He has delivered a few interesting messages from Psalm 23, one verse at a time. In his messages, he mentioned a book written by Phillip Keller about sheep and shepherding.  I do not recall the title of the book.  However, it aroused my curiosity during my few weeks of break to look for some other books written by the same author.  I found some and only a few were available to my e-reader.  One of them was “Lessons from a Sheep Dog”.  He told the readers many interesting stories of his beloved dog, Lass, and brought out quite sharp and practical applications he found from his work with her.  Of course, I am not going to talk about just a dog story from his book.  Rather, his shepherding experiences using a shepherd dog does present us with quite clear and lively descriptions and illustrations of what shepherds and shepherd dogs (under-shepherds) are doing with the flock.  Most of us have grown up in cities or towns and have not experienced a shepherds’ life.  That’s why I thought I would share some of his lessons written in his book for your interest.  It could be a book summary, too.


Phillip Keller was a ranch owner as a young man.  He does not mention the size of the ranch, but I assume that it had to be huge to keep the flock.  Though he was both energetic and young, it was very obvious that he could not run all over the ranch to round up the sheep alone. He needed help.  He wrote, “The flock often scattered and fled in five directions.  No matter how fast I ran or how loud I shouted the sheep still strayed in their own stubborn way.”  We can draw a mental picture of it in our minds and cannot but laugh.  So, he decided to have a coworker, not another man, but a sheep dog, which could work together with him harmoniously.  His first observation is this: “The same principle holds true in God’s dealing with men and women.  The Lord called Himself the Good Shepherd. He pictured Himself for us as the one who had come to care for the ‘lost sheep.’  He carefully instructed His disciples to be His colaborers and feed and tend His ewes and lambs.”  We are the sheep scattered into five directions! 

The Lord’s command to Peter was to feed His lambs, or sheep.  It was a shepherd’s work.  Shepherding requires special labor.  God chooses the fallen agency of humankind to do the work of His wisdom.  Even though God is able to employ anything including His mighty power and supernatural means, He chooses ordinary and common people to accomplish His enormous and providential work.  If He is the Shepherd, we are called to be His under-shepherds.  I hope that we will be able to learn to be good flock and good under-shepherds.  We will learn the ways to enrich our relationship with the Great Shepherd.


Be trained

Here comes his first important lesson.  Even if Lass was a good dog, intelligent and energetic enough for the job, she had to be trained for it first.  Even if she had an enormous capacity for an enormous amount of work, if she was not trained for the work, she would run around the vast ranch all day long and achieve nothing.  Instead of being helpful, she could not but be one more problem to the rancher.  She had to be in the hands of the right Shepherd for proper training.  She had to be broken one way or another.  Her unhelpful habits had to be given up, and her new habits and skills taught.  Likewise, God gives us intelligence, zeal, energy, desire, and even heart to work for Him, but in order to be used for Him, we must be trained first.  Training requires two conditions: a good trainer and willing trainee.  Even if the trainee is willing to receive training, if he falls into the wrong hands, he will not be able to carry out the work God wants him to do.  Or, even if the trainer is good and willing to train the trainee, if the latter is not willing to learn well, all the efforts the good trainer puts into the training sessions will be futile.  Lass was initially in the wrong hands.  The first owner did not know her well and failed to train her.  Thus, she was molded and shaped wrongly, which resulted in her being a nuisance to the first owner.  It was not her fault, but rather she met a wrong shepherd.  In my pastoral years, I have met some fine people who could have been used immensely, if they had right and proper training under the guidance of good shepherds in the first place.  However, under wrong guidance and misleading influences, they were wrongly conditioned.  How important it is for us to sit under the teachings of the Good shepherd and His trustworthy under-shepherds!  Be trained.


Be a follower

Phillip Keller brought Lass from her first owner who was eager to get rid of her.  Phillip and his wife were excited to keep her as their own and prepared a place for her and gave her food and water, but she did not  make a move.  Day after day, she did not respond, and she was on the leash.  The Kellers thought that she might be different if she was set free.  They released her and let her free.  Then, she disappeared and did not come back for some days.  One day she showed up and ate what was provided for her but then disappeared again.  By the time they became weary and about to give her up, she made her first move to close the distance between them. By now she knew that she was not going to be chained again but to receive love and tender care from the shepherd.  One dramatic change happened to her.  She became a follower, follower of the shepherd.  There was mutual trust between them and even comradeship.  She did not feel afraid of putting herself in the shepherd’s hands.  That’s what we do to our Good Shepherd.  Isn’t it true that the Lord Jesus told His men to follow Him?  Fear, anxiety, worries, or uncertainties cannot and should not keep us from following Him.  Our good shepherd is our master.  Be followers of the Lord and His faithful under-shepherds. 


Learn to trust

Lass’ first owner did not know her well and put her on a leash all the time.  She did not have freedom to move.  However, the Kellers were different and looked after her and she sensed it with her acute intelligence.  Lass did not know to love her new owners, but they loved her first.  Our Great Shepherd loved us first, which motivates us to love Him (1 John 4:19).  Lass recognized their voices and understood the tones and timber.  She knew what they wanted.  She came to them when they expected her to do so.  She wanted to be petted.  She complied and cooperated with them.  She responded to their words.  She grew in her trust of them.  She believed in them.  How true it is that when we trust and believe in the Great Shepherd, we respond to His Word!  Lass had to learn to be a good shepherd dog, which means that sometimes she had to be corrected and to be told to stop what she was doing.  Though some scolding voices did not sound friendly, Lass understood that they did not mean evil or ill.  She had confidence in them.  Through this growing trust relationship, she was brought into new and exciting encounters that she had never experienced before.  Here is what the book describes: “She was finding out all about sheep, ewes, and rams, and the frisky, gamboling lambs. She was coming across the pungent, powerful spoor of deer, raccoons, cougars, and otters. She was watching the gulls and geese and wild brant winging above the waves. She was seeing the splash and spray of the sea bursting against the rocky shore. There was life, energy, and the pull of the natural world all around her. She was no longer a pup learning from her mother the wisdom and ways of the wild. She had to learn now from me. She had to trust me to teach her about the ranch and woods and life by the shining sea” (p. 26). 


Psalm 23:1 describes God as our Shepherd.  Hebrews 13:20 describes the Lord Jesus Christ as that great Shepherd of the sheep.  Peter refers to the coming Lord as the chief Shepherd in 1 Peter 5:4 and the Shepherd in 2:25. Isn’t it true that Jesus calls Himself the good Shepherd in John 10:11?  What kind of flock are we?  Or, if we are ministers of God’s Word, what kind of under-shepherds have we been?




Your Pastor



More Lively Hope



  • Welcome to our pulpit Pastor David Weng.
  • The Lord’s Supper is postponed to 9 Sept.
  • Coupons for Missions Fair are on sale at Fellowship Hall. Those contributing food, please stay after the service for a meeting.
  • Church Service Roster for Oct-Dec: please indicate your availability to serve by emailing hopebpcrosterer@gmail.com.
  • Holiday Bible Club flyers & registration forms are available in the foyer. Volunteers needed. If able to help, please notify Dn John Wong ASAP.
  • Senior Fellowship Lunch: Please see Dn Boong Atijatuporn (0405 436 968) for more details.
  • New Basic Bible Knowledge Class will commence soon. If interested, please inform any Session member ASAP.
  • Kitchen Committee would like to request for more food contributions for fellowship lunch. Your contribution is much appreciated.
  • IF Retreat forms available at the foyer. Please complete & submit to Sis Seong Yeng Chu by 9 Sept.
  • Lunch Duty: This week: Neighbourhood BS Groups. Next week: AFG.


Praise & Thanksgiving

  • Visitors & church activities this past week.



  • Postnatal health & strength for Sis Amanda Lin & baby Noah.
  • Missions: Sis Esther Kim & House of Grace (Bandung).
  • Year 12 students as they prepare for final year exams.
  • God’s provision of funds for our church missions, piano & building extensions.



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14 Bedford Square, Colonel Light Gardens, South Australia 5041