Cleaned, Redeemed, & Esteemed

Hey y’all… how’s your mama and ’em?

IMG_6227Most people know that our family is particularly fond of Golden Retrievers.  (They put the “gold” in Sivils and Gold.)  We currently have three Golden’s: Cosmo age nine, Boondocks age seven, and Faith age two.  My daughter Dacey has always marched to the beat of her own drum and so required a dog from her own favorite breed of choice – the Border Collie.  Dacey saved babysitting money for the good part of a summer to purchase Flash.  When Dacey got Flash a couple of years ago, her plans had been to stay home and commute to college, and so we allowed her to bring him home.  Little did we know, Dacey would not be staying at home, but Flash would.

Flash is a great dog.  Border Collies are ranked number one in intelligence out of all dog breeds.  Flash is a grand representative of that breed trait.  One thing about Border Collies though is that because they are so intelligent, they require work.  If you do not find them something productive for them to do, they will often find something destructive to do.  While Dacey has been at school, Flash has become a mostly outside dog.  We bring him in to sleep at night but for the most part, during the day, he’s outside.  Dacey loves on Flash when she’s home on the weekend, but once she’s gone, back outside he goes.  While playing with my Golden’s this past week, I thought it was ashamed that Flash did not enjoy the same privileges and comforts of the Golden’s.  While he possesses the potential to be a great agility or trick dog, he’s been resigned to a life outside of running circles around the backyard.  I determined to spend more time with Flash and make him as much a part of the family as my beloved Golden Retrievers.  I brought him inside and gave him a bath.

Flash is a typical black and white Border Collie.  Months of going without a bath and playing in a muddy backyard had left the white part of his coat dingy and dull.  I took great care as I bathed him to restore his coat to pristine condition.  When I finished bathing him, he shined.  We brought him into the living room where he sat in my lap for a few hours.  He seemed relaxed and content.  When it came time to let the dogs back outside to potty, he rushed out with the pack.  But when the Golden’s returned, Flash stayed behind to run laps around the backyard.  We pleaded with him to come inside.  No amount of bribery was enough.  He was back wallowing in the mud that I’d just worked so hard to cleanse him of.  

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Titus 3:3-7 (NLT) reads, “Once we, too, were foolish and disobedient. We were misled and became slaves to many lusts and pleasures. Our lives were full of evil and envy, and we hated each other. But—  When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit. He generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior.  Because of his grace he made us right in his sight and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life.”

Flash eventually came back inside.  Once he realized we were inviting him to be part of the family, that his days of running circles in the backyard had been replaced with air conditioning and all of the love and attention his heart could ever desire, he was able to rest confidently, secure in his place in our home and lives.  Because we as believers have been washed by the blood of the Lamb, we too can rest secure in the hope of our place with Christ throughout eternity.       

Don't forget yourbig appetite!  

 

Have a blessed week, y’all! 

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A Loan From God

A Loan From God
Author Unknown

God promised at the birth of time,
A special friend to give,
His time on earth is short, He said,
So love him while he lives.

It may be for eight or ten years,
Or only two or three,
But will you, till I call him back,
Take care of him for Me?

A wagging tail and cold wet nose,
And silken velvet ears,
A heart as big as all outdoors,
To love you through the years.

His puppy ways will gladden you,
And antics bring a smile,
As guardian or friend he will,
Be loyal all the while.

He’ll bring his charms to grace your life,
And though his stay be brief,
When he’s gone the memories,
Are solace for your grief.

I cannot promise he will stay,
Since all from earth return,
But lessons only a dog can teach,
I want you each to learn.

I’ve looked the whole world over,
In search of guardians true,
And from the folk that crowd life’s land,
I have chosen you.

Whatever love you give to him,
Returns in triple measure,
Follow his lead and gain a life,
Brim full of simple pleasures.

Enjoy each day as it comes,
Allow your heart to guide,
Be loyal and steadfast in love,
As the dog there by your side.

Now will you give him all your love,
Nor think the labor vain,
Nor hate me when I come to call,
To take him back again?

I fancy each of us would say,
Dear Lord, thy will be done,
For all the joys this dog shall bring,
The risk of grief we’ll run.

We’ll shelter him with tenderness,
We’ll love him while we may,
And for the happiness we’ve known,
Forever grateful stay.

But should the angels call for him,
Much sooner than we’ve planned,
We’ll brave the bitter grief that comes,
And try to understand.

If by our love we’ve managed,
God’s wishes to achieve,
In memory of him that we have loved,
And to help us while we grieve;

When our faithful bundle departs,
This earthly world of strife,
We’ll get yet another pup,
And love him all his life.

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Scarlet and Faith

In Step With the Master

Hey y’all… how’s your mama and ’em?

1030461_1255225221Cosmo came to live with us when he was five and a half months old. He was a gift for our son, Isaac’s seventh birthday. We do not know much about the condition of Cosmo’s life before he came to live with us, but we do know he was not use to a lot of interaction with humans. 

When we picked Cosmo up, we literally had to lift him into the van to leave with us. No amount of coercing was enough to convince him to go willingly. After we arrived home, we would try to throw a tennis ball for him to chase. His reaction was ‘no reaction’. The first time we put a leash on him, he thrashed his body around so wildly we were certain he would hurt himself or someone else. We unclipped the leash from his collar and vowed to try again later. From that point on when the leash came out, Cosmo froze with fear. He firmly planted his bottom on the ground and would not budge an inch.

We consulted a friend who was an award winning dog trainer. He evaluated Cosmo and reported that “this dog has no drive.” He went on to tell us that we’d never walk Cosmo on a leash and that Cosmo was “untrainable”.  Never one to back down from a challenge, I took his professional opinion as just that – a challenge.  Six months later Isaac entered Cosmo in a dog show that the same friend who’d earlier evaluated him happened to be judging.  He was shocked at the progress we had made and glad to have been proven wrong in this case.  dogshow 095

Cosmo seemed to know from the beginning that Isaac was to be his master. He found comfort in Isaac’s presence, and Isaac spent hours reassuring him of his place in our home. Little by little Cosmo came out of his shell. Day by day he seemed to trust us more. He and Isaac now share a bond that most people can only dream of having with a pet. To see them together is truly a thing of beauty.

Cosmo celebrated his ninth birthday at the end of March.  Now days when the leash comes out, instead of being afraid, Cosmo looks up at Isaac as if to say, “What grand adventure will you lead me on today?” I am convinced that the dog would follow Isaac to the ends of the earth.

Isaac gently takes hold of the leash and off they go. Cosmo doesn’t ask where they are going. Cosmo does not pull against the leash – not even to smell the ‘happenings’ of the neighborhood. Cosmo follows Isaac. His step is in perfect harmony with that of his master – all because he trusts Isaac and knows that Isaac wants only what is best for him.

In our lives it doesn’t always seem as easy to blindly follow. Problems arise that don’t seem to have a solution. Bills mount up. Relationships die down. Things are in constant need of repair. Often it seems that the path we are being led down will surely lead to our ultimate end. We have no hope, no faith, and no trust.

Yet when we allow God to take control of our lives, we learn that He is the Good Shepherd who will never abandon or forsake us. His intentions for us are good not evil. To walk in a relationship with Him – trusting His purpose for our life and having faith in who He is – brings FREEDOM.  You are no longer spiraling down a road leading to nowhere.  When we follow in The Master’s steps, we can rest in the knowledge that He is leading us to where He wants us.  When we trust Him, our future no longer seems terrifying but rather satisfying because of the awareness that He who created the universe is holding our hand leading us to His best for our lives.  Proverbs 20:24 (NLT) reads, “The Lord directs our steps, so why try to understand everything along the way?”

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Like Cosmo it requires us to take a single step in faith and learning to trust even just  one step at a time.  When we place our trust in the Master, we too can begin each day with confidence and ask, “Lord, what grand adventure will you lead me on today?”

Have a blessed week, y’all! 

“Jesus Ain’t Your Homeboy, Y’all”

Hey y’all… how’s your mama and ’em?

30020176_10155062835461511_2130319115_nWe all have an inner desire to remain hip, trendy, current, and “down with our funky selves”.  So, at the risk of sounding like an old “fuddy-duddy”, I need to tell y’all something, “Jesus ain’t your homeboy, bro!”  Whew.. I am so glad to get that off of my chest. 

As an attempt to make God seem more culturally acceptable and current in these crazy times, many have attempted to bring God down to our level.  I get it.  I really do.  We want folks to see God as relevant and accessible, but in doing so, we seem to have forgotten that God is holy and is to be treated as such.  As Christians, we want the world to see something different in us and to be drawn to Christ by those differences. Yet we live the same as the world, and worse than that, we downplay the sacredness of the holy in an attempt to seem cool and more appealing.  Is it any wonder that the world is more confused than ever by who God is and who He wants to be in their lives?   

Proverbs 1:7 reads, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”  We live in a society where we are taught that respect is a weakness.  From parents to teachers and from police officers to those in political offices, we no longer have a respect for the person or the position.  It is no wonder that society as a whole has also lost respect for God.  Christians have made God seem common rather than sacred and wonder why the gospel seems to have lost its effectiveness.    

Salvation is simple.  Romans 10:9 says, “If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”  God is available to us.  James 4:8a reads, “Come near to God and he will come near to you.”  Those are the messages the world needs to hear.  God doesn’t need our “window dressings” (or online memes) to draw people to Him.  (That’s the Holy Spirit’s job.)  God wants our respect, our honor, and our lives lived in complete abandon to Him.  When we live our lives set apart and on fire for God, then others will notice a difference in us that they want in their own lives.  1 Peter 1:15 instructs us, “But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy.”  

It’s time the church remembers who God is.  He is the Almighty, the First and the Last, the Creator of heaven and earth.  He is our Redeemer and our Savior.  He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. God is too extraordinary for us to make Him appear as anything less.   God is holy and worthy of all our praise!   

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Have a blessed week, y’all! 

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