The Comfort of the Shepherd

The Comfort of the Shepherd

Release Date: September 2012. Advance copies are in print and will be available for sale. List price is $18.95 US dollars. Purchasers can buy direct from http://www.cambridgebooks.us/.

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Excerpt from Barbara Garro’s The Comfort of the Shepherd: Parable Prayer and Meditation

The Comfort of the Shepherd: Parable Prayer & Meditation takes you on an introspective journey through thirty-three of Jesus’s teaching stories from the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. The working definition of a parable is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning.

When you see Jesus’s parables as stories that show God’s love for humanity, they come to light for you. Jesus taught the way of Divine love by analogy that drew on everyday experiences.

Surrounding parable study with prayer and meditation I believe broadens our ability to benefit more from Jesus’s parable lessons. How? Scripture grounds you in God’s Word. Prayer grounds you in the goodness of God and provides a holy language to petition God to act on your behalf. Meditation provides the possibility of achieving union with God.

In addition, you will find guidelines for both prayer and meditation practice in Chapter 1.

My format for each of the thirty-three parables includes:

  • The Bible text with explanations of appropriate cultural and religious nuances
  • Prayer thoughts, often with a poem from my in-process book Fortress of Faith
  • Meditation thoughts
  • A Message from Jesus
  • Affirmations to support your taking your learning to the next step into action

You know you are not like everybody else and your spiritual journey isn’t likely to be the same as anyone else’s. Consider keeping an attitude that there is no one right way to pray and meditate on the parables. Jesus told them for each one of us, understanding our humanity.

Why do I present thirty-three parables when the count generally varies from seventeen to fifty-four? I chose thirty-three to represent one parable for each year of Jesus’s life here on earth.

For my parable translations, I chose Count Lev N. Tolstoy’s The Four Gospels Harmonized and Translated, Volumes I and II. Tolstoy, like me, a Russian, a lay person and a writer who wanted to understand Jesus’s parable messages, eagerly did the work. While I have made some contemporary punctuation and language changes, I keep a commitment to stay true to Tolstoy’s 1890′s Russian translation and Leo Wiener’s subsequent 1904 English translation.

What is exciting about this method is that you get the benefit of three writers who struggled to understand Jesus’s parable messages.

For ease of reading and space, I offer one text of each parable with citations for you to use your own Bible to consider reading other Gospel writers versions of a parable. This method gives you the greatest perspective.

For Old Testament citations, I use public domain versions, especially the Douay-Rheims translation of the Latin Vulgate.

To the best of my ability, I have researched to give you a credible account of the trail of text that resembles most closely the memories of Jesus’s Apostles that forms the foundation of the Christian faith.

Jesus spoke to mainly illiterate, simple farmers, shepherds and crafts people. How complicated could His short stories have been to need pages and pages of scholarly explanation and footnotes that give numerous opinions about Jesus’s messages?

In my efforts to be each of the characters Jesus brings to us in the thirty-three parables, I relied heavily on Konstantin Stanislavski, the creator of a method of acting, who asked four introspections: Who am I? Why am I here? Where did I come from? Where am I going?

These are good questions to ask yourself every six months on your spiritual journey. As a Christian coach, I have found that for those who believe in God, the answers to Stanislavski’s questions seem to flow more quickly than for those who do not.

Still, most people struggle with some or all of Stanislavski’s questions time and again in their lives, especially after a devastating loss. Another time comes when people have really messed up their lives and stare up from the bottom, where they lie emotionally naked.

Coaching others to grow spiritually, I have found that those who lack God in their lives often feel unfulfilled. Relatively, the power of anyone’s relationship with God, or some Supreme Being, determines the strength of their feeling that they are living a full life.

Scripture helps us understand our faith and the breadth and depth of the love of God in three Persons. God the Father sent Jesus, His only Son, to make salvation possible for people who accept Jesus as their Savior and live according to His teachings. The way of our salvation for Jesus, death by crucifixion, was so terrible a torture that Cicero never wanted Romans to even witness it. Jesus, the Christ, our bridge to everlasting life, willingly suffered so we could accept forgiveness for our sins, His salvation gift to us.

Ten years ago, I began a journey that continues with this book to answer Jesus’s question, Who do you say I am? Why so long? Jesus never wrote one word for us to read. What we have are the words of thousands of scribes, ancient and modern. So, in studying to answer Jesus’s question, I read others’ descriptions of Him and His earthly activities. Why did this make it hard? Because the mostly men scribes describe Jesus from their personal and male point of view. The key to understanding each snapshot of Jesus made it necessary to first understand the scribe. When you think of the most well-known early scribes, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, remembering they claimed no authorship of their Gospels, you can see the difficulty. Still, using my Character Architectural Technology System®, introduced in my book Grow Yourself a Life You’ll Love, I came to understand the scribes I read and that helped me understand each scribe’s snapshot of Jesus.

In my first book, From Jesus to Heaven with Love: A Parable Pilgrimage, readers not only got to know my answer to Jesus’s question, Who do you say I am?, parable by parable, but also, in its co-author heuristic format of self-discovery, they come to their own answer to Jesus’s question. I intend my Jesus books to be full-circle books that give you not only my current thinking but a door that opens into your thinking as you journey from parable to parable. Why? Because you need to discover your own Jesus to build a personal relationship with Him, I can’t stress enough the great importance of Jesus’s question Who do you say I am? Again, I remind, growing spiritually means continuing to seek a deeper answer.

Co-authorship, your personal ownership of your messages, sets this book apart from other books that tell you what you should think and hope you will find their exclusive thinking enough. What’s the problem? That method gives all readers the same information and only the author gets the juicy excitement of personal discovery on the journey.

Here in The Comfort of the Shepherd: Parable Prayer & Meditation, you not only get Jesus’s words as scribed through thirty-three of His parables, but also Prayer and Meditation Guides as well as Messages from Jesus and Affirmations to foster your learning process.

You discover for yourself and can use your personal discoveries to grow spiritually and lead more loving lives from Jesus’s examples.