The Wonderful World of the Wiener Dog, Pt. 4

This is the fourth post in a series about life through the eyes of a wiener-dog owner

Posted: February 24, 2011 in Inspirational
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 Okay, contrary to any heretofore claims by yours truly, Boomer isn’t perfect. In fact, he has a serious problem (well, as serious as you can take a problem that involves a dog shaped like an empty toilet paper tube with legs). His problem is that he has a tendency to fixate. Now, when I say tendency, understand the understatement involved… sort of like saying San Antonio has a tendency to be humid. For instance, if you begin to play fetch with him, he totally fixates on that activity, to the exclusion of being conscious of anything else happening on the planet. When you are ready to stop, you can try to ignore him but he’ll come drop the toy on your foot and whine; next, you can place it on a counter top that he can’t reach. In answer to this, he will jump up over and over whining and barking at the counter. You may also attempt to hide it. This, too, avails little, as he will walk around the room whining and sniffing the air to ascertain where his toy has gone. No matter what other activity or treat I wish to give him at this point, he is totally fixated on the one thing. Sometimes, I just want him to sit with me and allow me to pet him and enjoy his company. Alas, he is totally in one-track mode. In fact, the only way to break this obsession is to hide the object in a different room until he forgets it. Luckily, while his body is long, his memory is short.

Here again, I see a picture of myself (and I suspect many of you, too). I have a tendency to obsess, don’t you? Whether it is a good thing or a bad one, the result is similar. Perhaps I may catch a glimpse of something God wants to do in my future and at that moment I become fixated on the dream of what is to come. I have seen this often in the lives of young men and women who are called to some area of ministry. Once they get a vision of where they are headed, they suddenly lose their willingness to stay in their place and remain faithful as they are learning the lessons that will serve them well in the future. We are also prone to begin to cherish the ministry more than the presence of God. Just like me, God may want to hold us and enjoy us for a while; and, just like Boomer, we can only think of chasing that rubber bone. Destiny can be a powerful obsession. So can religion. At one point, Jesus tells the Pharisees, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone.” (Matthew 23:23 – NKJV). In other words, He is saying, you get all the religious rituals and requirements right, but you miss the main point. In some respects it was the same thing He told Martha when she complained of all the work that needed to be done while Mary sat at Jesus’ feet. He said, “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.” (Luke 10:41,42 – NIV)

Bad things can be equally powerful in their ability to consume us. Whether it is financial worries, health problems, family issues, or any number of other things, we can fixate on those things just as easily… with even more damaging consequences. Jesus chides His disciples throughout His time on earth to not worry, and He often questions where their faith has gone. I think I can easily slip into the trap of totally ignoring a loving, doting Heavenly Father’s presence as I focus all my attention on those unpaid bills or that unfavorable doctor’s report. Sometimes, it seems God is forced to do the same thing I have to do with Boomer – hide the object of my obsession until I forget about it. Unfortunately, my memory is much longer than Boomer’s, so this is not the best option for me. I do see it happen in our lives, though, as those dreams we have of a great destiny seem to vanish into mid-air. I think this was the test God was giving Abraham when He asked him to sacrifice Isaac. That was God’s promise of Abraham’s destiny of being a great nation. God’s question was, do you love me more than the promise I gave you? Abraham passed the test with flying colors. How about us?

The Wonderful World of the Wiener Dog, Pt. 3

This is the third post in a series on life through the eyes of a wiener-dog owner

Posted: February 24, 2011

I was walking Boomer a few days ago. You see, I have one of those fancy retractable leashes so that I can keep him right beside me, or I can let him have more leash to explore (or use the bathroom further away from me). At any rate, I was keeping him close beside me – mastering the walk for you Dog Whisperer watchers. Well, he was straining for more freedom, as well as pulling my arm out of socket, so I let him have a little more leash (don’t tell Cesar). Well, predictably, he pulled just as hard on the leash after I had let more out. It was as if the thing he really wanted was just beyond his reach. The cycle repeated until I finally just let the leash all the way out, figuring that would give him plenty of slack… and give my arm a break. How many of you already know what happened next? Yeah, he pulled just as hard at the end of that length of leash. That started me thinking about how the grass always seems greener on the other side of the fence and how we are never satisfied, and that we all need a trip to Africa to realize how good we have it. All that is true, but… I realized that I am the chief among leash-pullers (apologies to the Apostle Paul for the plagiarism). I realized that I want to be surrounded by leash-pullers. Things change because of leash-pullers who aren’t satisfied. Walt Disney was a leash-puller. He said things like “it’s kind of fun to do the impossible,” and “if you can dream it, you can do it.” Actually, there is another dog in our neighborhood that figures in this story. His name is Rugby, and Rugby lives in a fence. He can’t help that, but here’s the thing: he has become resigned to his fate. When I walk Boomer by, he gives us a couple of barks and just sits there… satisfied. The yard is the sum total of his world. Debbie use to have a beagle named Barney. Now, if you are familiar with beagles, you know that no fence can hold them. They are the Harry Houdinis of the dog world. When Jesus came to Earth and looked for His team, he could have picked the Scribes and Pharisees – the Rugbys of His day. They were resigned to the religious dogma (pardon the pun) and restrictions of their day. They probably would have been easier to control. They wouldn’t have wanted to call down fire out of Heaven to burn up villages or cut off people’s ears with swords. Yet He picked the Barneys and Boomers: Peter, who wielded his sword in Gethsemane, jumped out of perfectly good boats, and had a foot-shaped mouth. He picked James and John, who were nicknamed “Sons of Thunder.” They are the ones who wanted to burn up villages and sit on His right and left. He picked a guy named Simon, the Zealot. I don’t know much about this Simon’s life, but you don’t get nicknamed “the Zealot” for walking nicely at the end of the leash. He even picked a suspected thief (Matthew) and a proven one (Judas). Yet, when these guys bought in, they made revelatory statements like, thou art the Christ…,” walked on water, and stood with Jesus while He wrecked the temple. Eventually some of them were crucified, boiled in oil, jailed and scourged repeatedly, and even saw Heaven from a rocky island in the Mediterranean. Do you think fence dwellers would have gone that far? I doubt it. Great things are often built by great malcontents. Look at our nation: America was started by people who just couldn’t take the status quo any longer. In fact, Georgia was actually a bunch of criminals (some things haven’t changed much, have they? TEASING!). In fact, the entry criteria for our country are carved on the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor. It hardly asks for bluebloods and aristocrats. It says, “give me your tired, your poor…” In fact, listen to the poem by Emma Lazarus from which the quote is takenNot like the brazen giant of Greek fame, 
with conquering limbs astride from land to land; 
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand 
a mighty woman with a torch, whose flame 
is the imprisoned lightning, and her name 
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand 
glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command 
the air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame. 
”Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she 
with silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor, 
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, 
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. 
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, 
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” (Emphasis mine)

So, though our services and rehearsals sometimes resemble controlled chaos, that’s fine with me… didn’t Jesus have to break up an argument in the upper room before He could wash their feet? Though our band may, at times, resemble that jailbird colony in Georgia, I am right at home. I love every leash-pulling one of you… opinions and all; and I’ve seen the greatness that resides in our group, because of your striving for more.

Let me leave you with one last Walt Disney quote: “All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.”

The Wonderful World of the Wiener Dog, Pt. 2

This is the second in a series of 6 posts about life through the eyes of a wiener-dog owner.

Posted: February 24, 2011 in Inspirational
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The moral of this story is: dogs understand worship, cats don’t. The word used for worship throughout most of the New Testament is the Greek word proskuneo. It carries the meaning to bow or prostrate oneself. However, it has another definition: to kiss the hand in the way a dog licks the hand of the master. For nearly all of my life I have lived in homes with cats (my mom had serious cat issues), while I have owned dogs for a good bit of my life, as well. This might not give me any title or initials after my name, but it does give me quite a history of observation of both species. When I enter my house, my dachshund, Boomer meets me at the door 100 times out of 100. When I leave the house, he stands at the door gazing sadly at me with puppy dog eyes (what other kind would you expect?). In reality, it doesn’t matter if I have been gone 10 minutes or two weeks, he is equally glad to see me.

On the other hand, one of my cats meets me at the door 7 times out of 100, and all 7 times it is a safe bet that either the food or water dish is empty. While I am in the house, I have constant attention and devotion from Boomer, the cats…not so much. I am slightly less interesting to them than a nap on a sunny spot, a string to chase, or a hair ball to upchuck… UNLESS THE FOOD DISH IS EMPTY!  When I walk over to my dog, he gives me a perfect picture of proskuneo every time: he will hunker down, tail wagging vigorously, and lick my hand.

Now before we judge the cats too harshly, let’s look at ourselves for a sec. Aren’t our prayer and worship lives a bit like them sometimes? I’m pretty independent, charting my own course, everything under control – don’t give God all that much attention UNTIL THE FOOD DISH IS EMPTY!!! It is then that I pray, then that I tell God how great He is, then that I hunker down and kiss His hand.

Look at a couple of the great worshipers in the Bible. Moses spent 40 consecutive days in God’s presence at one point. At other times, he was so transformed by time in God’s presence that his face glowed. In fact, at one point, God even tells Moses to leave him alone: leave me alone so my anger can blaze against the Israelites” How about David? He said, “zeal for Your house has consumed me” He’s the guy who set up an open tabernacle with no veil and ordered 24/7 worship for over 30 years. He wrote Psalm 23 which ends with the statement: “I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” No wonder God said about Moses “with others I speak in dreams and visions, but with Moses face to face,” and called David a man after God’s own heart. These were the two guys in the Old Testament that carried the three-fold anointing that Jesus later carried of priest, prophet, and king. So next time you begin to worship the Lord, picture Boomer, hunkered down, with his tail wagging all the way up to his neck.