Lessons From a Dog

We have a dog named, Baxter. He is short, fat, and black. A mix of dachshund and corgi. My Mom found him in her pasture with a plastic coffee jar stuck on his head. Apparently, he had been looking for food and had gotten himself into a bit of a mess. At just 8 weeks old, he was a pitiful little sight with an injured ear and more fleas than you could count.

My children had been begging for a dog, so there you go. They thought God had delivered a puppy to their doorstep in response to their prayers. (I won’t tell you what my husband thought!)

Baxter has been with us for 2 1/2 years now. Below you will find a few lessons I’ve learned from him. Even though these are behaviors I’ve observed in a dog, I think they can be applied to our lives as Christians. Simple, basic lessons.

*Bark if there’s danger. Someone will rescue you. Once inside, relax and be at peace.

Baxter is a barker. He barks a lot. But if he senses danger, he will bark even after the danger has passed. He will bark until someone lets him come in the house and rest safely in his cage. Once inside, he is completely at peace. Isn’t that how we are when turmoil arises in our lives? We cry out to the Father. More so than any other time. He hears us and draws us to Himself where we can be comforted and find peace.

*If someone gives you a bone, hide it. It is your treasure.

Baxter hides his bones. Even if it’s pouring down rain. He treasures them and saves them for later. God tells us to treasure His Word and hide it in our hearts. Why should we hide it in our hearts? So that the treasure of God’s Word will be there when we need it. So we can pull it out and apply it to each life situation as needed.

*If you’re hungry, go straight to your master. Ignore everyone who tries to distract you along the way.

Baxter likes to run in the door without permission. Once inside, it becomes total chaos. He runs straight for the cat’s food. The children scream like…well…like children and convince themselves it is the perfect excuse to run wild in the house. Of course, Baxter, in spite of his fat tummy that almost touches the floor, outsmarts them every time. The children dive and jump and Baxter gets away.

After observing the excitement for a few minutes, I decide it’s time to restore order. I call, “Baxter” and he’s at my feet within seconds. He knows I’m his master. I’m the one who consistently takes care of him. He also knows I will give him something good to eat if he obeys me.

So when we are hungry for God, we should avoid the chaos and distractions around us. We should run as fast as we can to receive the good things He has to give us.

*Know the difference between friends and enemies.

We have a cat named, Tiger. Tiger was here long before Baxter arrived. I’m not sure if you can say a thought crosses a cat’s mind, but if that’s possible, I can honestly say the thought to like Baxter has never crossed Tiger’s mind. Tiger despises Baxter. If he is ever near him, he hisses. If Baxter ventures too close, Tiger strikes with his paw. Tiger is an enemy to Baxter.

However, when we board Baxter during vacations, he stays in a boarding place that has a resident cat. Guess who sleeps with Baxter almost every night? Yes, the cat. Baxter knows the difference between a friend and an enemy. He avoids Tiger at all costs, but allows the friendly, resident cat to share his bed.

We, like Baxter, should be fully aware of the difference between friends and enemies. There are people in our lives who will try to tear us down by pulling us away from God. If they are enemies of God, we should avoid them.

Does this mean we shouldn’t share Christ and His salvation with those who don’t know Him? Not at all. We should tell them about Jesus and all He has done for us. We should pray that they will allow Christ to be The Lord of their lives. But if they do not believe, we should not allow them to become so close to us that they begin to influence the way we live. Remember the example of a person standing in a chair and a person on the floor. It’s much easier to pull someone down than to pull them up.

Our friends who are closest to us should have the same beliefs and values that we have. This way we can encourage each other to follow God’s ways. We can hold each other accountable as well as love and care for each other. These are true friends.

I started wondering if this post was a little silly to compare a dog and a Christian, but then I found this quote from John Calvin.

“A dog barks when his master is attacked. I would be a coward if I saw that God’s truth is attacked and yet would remain silent.”

It appears that he learned a lesson from a dog as well. 😄

Karen

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To Be Like Mary

Brother Rob’s sermon this morning included references to the death of Lazarus and the resulting reactions of his sisters, Mary and Martha (or “Motha”, as Bro. Rob so richly says in his “old South” way.)

As he talked about Mary and Martha, my mind drifted to the story of Jesus visiting their home in Luke 10:38-42. I know the story very well. Five short verses, but packed with eye opening life application.

“As Jesus and His disciples were on their way, He came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to Him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what He said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to Him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

When I study these passages, I am encouraged by the words of Jesus. He is actually telling someone to forget about the chores and focus on Him! But at the same time, I know in my heart that if I had been one of the sisters in the story, I undoubtedly would have been Martha.

The account of Martha begins very favorably. “A woman named Martha opened her home to Him.” (Very hospitable of her.) But the next thing we hear of Martha is that she was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. Wow! How easily I could replace the name Martha to say, “But Karen was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made.” I just know in my heart I would have done the exact same thing as Martha!

Then, the account of Martha takes a terrible turn for the worst. She begins to sound like…well…like my children when they believe they have been given more chores than their brother or sister.

I pray I wouldn’t have gone as far as Martha in asking The Lord Jesus Christ to reprimand my sister for not helping with the chores, but you never know! Poor Martha. She started out so great, but then she bombed!

It’s a difficult lesson for people like me. As much as I hate to admit it, I suffer from the sin of perfectionism at times. It sounds like Martha did as well. She wanted everything to be just right. As a result of her perfectionist personality, she couldn’t see what was the most important thing. She was distracted.

You might say, “So, what’s wrong with that? Why is that a sin?” The sin is not in taking care of things that need to be done or putting forth your best effort, the sin is letting things distract you from Jesus.

How many things in my life distract me from spending time with The Lord? It’s very easy to justify them. Of course I must prepare dinner, or go Christmas shopping, or do the laundry. Yes, these things might need to be done, but not at the cost of missing out on precious time with my Lord.

So in order to avoid being distracted from Jesus, I look to the other sister. Mary, the one who Jesus says “chose the right thing”. Mary knew how to prioritize. She knew what was at the top of her “to do” list for the day! Can’t you just visualize her list? At the top in BIG, BOLD letters….
SIT AT THE FEET OF JESUS AND DRINK IN EVERY WORD.

What a beautiful picture those words paint in my mind. Oh, to be like Mary!

Still, I can’t help but feel sorry for Martha. Apparently her “to do”list for the day was a little different than Mary’s.

*Send Lazarus to catch fish
*Mend the clothes
*Buy vegetables at market
*Mop the floors
*Prepare the fish
*Bake the bread
*Set the table
*Serve dinner
*Clean the dishes
*Talk to Jesus

Apparently, Jesus wasn’t concerned about a meal, or a clean house, or whatever it was that Martha was doing. He loved Martha. He wanted to spend time with her. He wanted to get to know her better, to know her thoughts and desires. He wanted to tell her stories about His Father. He wanted her to know who He really was. He said only one thing was needed and that was spending time with Him.

It’s the same for us today. Jesus desires for us to spend time with Him. He wants us to read about Him and allow The Holy Spirit to open our eyes to who He really is. He wants us to talk to Him and share with Him our thoughts and desires. He wants us to simply sit at His feet each day and drink Him in.

The world we live in calls us to be like Martha. We have so many things to do that even if we place Jesus at the top of our to do list for the day, He often gets pushed to the bottom and maybe even knocked off the page.

Jesus calls us to be like Mary. To drop everything and spend time with Him. I must admit there are days when my time alone with Him gets pushed to the bottom of my list and sometimes even off the page. Those days never seem quite right. I don’t experience the peace, wisdom, or love for others that I experience when I begin my day with The Lord. Days that begin with Jesus are days that might not be perfect, but they are days that I’m prepared for because I’ve been given wisdom and strength through my time with Him.

Lord, make me like Mary and change me when I fall into my Martha-like ways. I can’t imagine anything more splendid than sitting at Your feet and drinking in Your every word.

Striving to Be Like Mary,
Karen

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