Dogs

Of Dogs and Men

“Dogs are quick to show their affection. They never pout, they never bear a grudge. They never run away from home when mistreated. They never complain about their food. They never gripe about the way the house is kept. They are chivalrous and courageous, ready to protect … at the risk of their lives. They love children, and no matter how noisy and boisterous they are, the dog loves every minute of it. … Perhaps if we husbands imitated a few of our dog’s virtues, life with our family might be more amiable.” – Billy Graham

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Why Submission is Good for Your Soul

Hey y’all… how’s your mama and ’em?

28722113_10154992503166511_700561667_nWe recently took in two new foster dogs.  They are ten year old, Chihuahua siblings named Bandit and Sophie.  Having been in one home their entire lives, my household has been a culture shock to them.  Both little guys are “typical Chihuahuas” in that they are nippy and snappy, but as they have adjusted to our family, they have become more at ease.  We are seeing less bared teeth and are receiving more snuggles.  (Y’all, they are a hoot – especially when trying to convince our three Golden Retrievers that they are as big as they are.  Our Goldens roll their eyes at the display and go lay down.)  When we approach the Chihuahuas to pick them up, they are quick to roll over on their back.  In dog speak this means, “We surrender.  We submit.  We trust that you will not harm us.  We are not a threat to you.”  They communicate this by exposing their most vulnerable places (for a dog that is the neck and belly).

Humans have a harder time learning to submit than dogs do.  We tend to want to be the one in control, the one calling the shots.  We think of submission and surrendering as weakness, but God calls us to do both.  One of the most loved scriptures (also one of my personal favorites) is found in Proverbs 3:5-6.  It reads, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”  Though this verse is often quoted, how often is it lived?

In 1913, William Borden abandoned his family’s fortune to become a missionary.  Having given his life to God under the teachings of D.L. Moody, he became impassioned for the lost.  Against the will of his father, he left behind his Yale education and headed East.  His goal was to work with Muslims in China.  Before arriving in China, he boarded with a Syrian family in Cairo to study Islam and learn Arabic.  During that time he contracted cerebral meningitis.  He died before he ever reached China.  When his belongings were returned to his mother, she found written in his Bible three simple phrases:  No Reserves (with a date written when he renounced his fortune), No Retreats (with a date written after his father told him he would never hold a place in the family business), No Regrets (with a date written shortly before his death).

  • No Reserves – I have decided to follow Jesus.
  • No Retreats – Though none go with me, still I will follow.
  • No Regrets – The world behind me, the cross before me.

William Borden surrendered his life to the call of Christ.  He trusted God and made himself vulnerable by denying wealth, comfort, and position.  And he submitted to God by saying, “Not my will but your will be done.”Apart from faith in Christ, there is no explanation of such a life.

Luke 9:23-24 reads, “Jesus said, “Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.”  It was engraved on William Borden’s grave, “Apart from faith in Christ, there is no explanation of such a life.”  I would hope at the end of my life, the same could be said for me.  What about you?

Father, help each of us to yield our lives to you daily.  Help us to fully submit to your will, and to trust in your plans.  Help us surrender all.  In Jesus name, amen.

Have a blessed week, y’all!

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Year of the Dog

Hey y’all… how’s your mama and ’em?

24294103_1780979458641513_353045090737977088_nOf all the lessons God has taught me through my Golden Retrievers, and dogs in general, the importance of living in the moment is pretty close to the top of the list.  Dogs do not wallow in the regrets of of the past, and they do not worry about things that may or may not happen in the future.  They simply live life to the fullest extent at any given time.  I believe God intends for us to live our lives in the same manner.

Everyone who has achieved puberty has regrets from their past, and we all have at one time or another felt that we were victims of a situation that was out of our control.  Shame and regrets and bad memories can become chains that imprison us to a jail of our own making if we do not submit them to God.  Likewise, reliving “the good ole days” without regard to what is happening now, also causes us to miss out on life.  When we live in the past, we never fully live in the present.  Dogs may live conditioned to a past experience, but they do not let it prevent them from enjoying today.  Neither should we.

We also forget to live in the present by spending too much of our time worrying about the future.  Whether it is worrying about things we hear in the news like threats of war or weather predictions, or things that hit closer to home such as health and finances, worrying robs today of its joy.  In Matthew 6, Jesus taught us to pray saying, “give us this day our daily bread.”  Further in the chapter Jesus teaches us, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”  My dogs do not worry about their future because for their entire lives I have cared for them daily.  They know when they wake up tomorrow, I will again provide for them.  We should have that same trust in our Father who provides all of our needs.

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According the Chinese zodiac, 2018 is the Year of the Dog.  I would like to encourage you this year to live more like a dog!  Whatever has happened in your past or what you dream or fear in the future, do not become so caught up in it that you forget to live life now.  Do not miss the things in front of you.  You only get to live each day once.  Make the most of it.  Make it count.  Have fun.  Be spontaneous.  Make good memories.  Philippians 3:13,14 reads, “But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”  That should be our goal, as well.

Have a blessed week, y’all!

 

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Colorblind

IMG_3751It is a common misconception that dogs are colorblind.  While our canine companions do not enjoy the vast array or vividness of colors that the we do, dogs can differentiate between certain colors.  Far more impressive than a dogs ability to discern colors is their ability to seemingly know what is in a person’s heart.

Most days that I work, my four-year-old Golden Retriever, Boondocks, accompanies me to the office.  He prefers snoozing behind my desk as opposed to being left home all day, and he always welcomes the opportunity to meet and make new friends.

Most folks that come into the office are friendly and stop by to say “hi”.  Without a doubt – and without guidance from me – Boondocks always seems to know who is here for what purpose.  Boon will sit behind my desk and whine if he hears Mr. Joe come in without greeting him, and yet he sometimes seems more suspicious of workmen that come in for routine maintenance.  His perception of people reminds me of a verse from the Bible,

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”  1 Samuel 16:7

Boondocks does not base his opinion of people by their ethnicity, by their social status, by their sexual orientation, by their beliefs – cultural or religious -, rather he judges by what is on the inside.  He was made to love, and he does so – for love’s sake.

1 Peter 4:8 says,

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.

When we look at a person for what is in their heart, we are able to love them freely.  When we become more concerned about their soul than our opinion of how they live and how they sin differently than we do we are able to offer them the unconditional love that God has given us and asked us to give others.

John 13:35 says,

“Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”

Notice it doesn’t say “your approval of one another” but rather “love”.

I challenge you today to love like a dog.  Show other’s His agape love not for what they’ve done but because God has created them in His image and called us to do so.  If we all would commit to this kind of love, we truly would change the world.

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God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.  Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and his love is brought to full expression in us.  1 John 4:9-12