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
Tags: 

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.

The Wonderful World of the Wiener Dog, Pt. 1

This is the first post in a series about life through the eyes of a wiener-dog owner.
Posted: February 23, 2011 in Inspirational
Tags: 
THE STORM

 

A couple of years ago, when our wiener-dog Boomer was just a puppy, I was home one afternoon during a thunderstorm. I heard Boomer in his room whining and realized he was afraid of the thunder he was hearing. I went in and picked him up and took him out on our screened porch with me to help him get over his fear. At first he sat in my lap, pressed up against me, and whimpered. After a bit, he got quiet, then he got down out of my lap. However, he stayed right under my chair, at first. Gradually, he began to venture over to the screen and watch the rain and the lightening. Soon he was perfectly fine as the storm continued. Never again have I heard him whine during a storm. I had a God moment while this was happening and thought about the way He helps us learn to pass through storms. As I held Boomer in that storm, these words King David wrote came to my mind:

Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy!
I look to you for protection.
I will hide beneath the shadow of your wings
until the danger passes by.
 
I cry out to God Most High,
to God who will fulfill his purpose for me.
He will send help from heaven to rescue me,
disgracing those who hound me.
My God will send forth his unfailing love and faithfulness.  (Psalm 57:1-3)

David wrote these words during a storm in his life. He was on the run from King Saul, who was trying to kill him; and he was hiding in a cave. You might be fighting through a storm right now, and you might feel like the disciples did when Jesus was asleep during their storm… “Jesus, don’t you care that we are going to perish?” Let me assure you, He does care; and you’re not going to perish. He needed disciples that learned to weather storms so that they could carry on after He ascended back to Heaven. Think of Peter and John in Acts 4 as they stood before the High Priest and Sadducees and boldly spoke about Jesus fearlessly. Today, he needs followers like you and me to learn to weather storms; so if you are in a doozie right now, learn to hide under His mighty wings and stay the course.

Scott Krippayne wrote a beautiful song a few years ago called, “Sometimes He Calms the Storm.” I’ll leave you with his  lyrics:

(Verse 1)

All who sail the sea of faith   Find out before too long
How quickly blue skies can grow dark    And gentle winds grow strong

Suddenly fear is like white water    Pounding on the soul
Still we sail on knowing   That our Lord is in control

(Chorus)

Sometimes He calms the storm     With a whispered peace be still
He can settle any sea     But it doesn’t mean He will 

Sometimes He holds us close    And lets the wind and waves go wild
Sometimes He calms the storm   And other times He calms His child

(Verse 2)

He has a reason for each trial     That we pass through in life
And though we’re shaken    We cannot be pulled apart from Christ
No matter how the driving rain beats down    On those who hold to faith
A heart of trust will always     Be a quiet peaceful place

Ode to a Butter Knife

In some of my random, and slightly demented, musings recently, I began to wonder what my butter knives would say if they could talk. You see, a couple of years ago Debbie and I bought some sleek, shiny Cuisinart chef’s knives for our kitchen. They came with their own stand so that we could set them out on the counter. There they sit… imposing, I must say. You look at them and imagine the precise slicing and paring they could perform. However, I have discovered that they are quite the prima donnas. You see, you would never use them to spread peanut butter or jelly – the blades aren’t really suited for those mundane tasks.  And, if you needed to tap on a stubborn jar lid, you’d never use their handle, for the blade would cut your hand to ribbons. Occasionally, there are times when a screw needs a bit of a twist and a screwdriver is nowhere to be found; yet you’d never use one of these gleaming specialists, for fear of bending or chipping their expensive blade. Meanwhile, tucked away in a drawer, out of view, sit the butter knives… just right for constructing that perfect peanut butter and jelly sandwich, loosening that stubborn lid, tightening that loose screw, or prying off that ring on the milk container.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Maybe you’re like one of those butter knives. You feel like you sit by unnoticed while that gleaming butcher knife sings a solo, or feel undervalued while that razor-sharp paring knife preaches that moving sermon or teaches that profound lesson. Here’s the thing I see, though: when there’s work to be done, God… just like me, often reaches for a butter knife to accomplish it. He found Moses, not when he was shining brightly up on the counter in Egypt, but when he was out of sight in Midian’s wilderness; and He passed right over all of Jesse’s gleaming chef cutlery to choose David, who was tucked away out in a sheep field. Samuel, who was sent to anoint one of Jesse’s sons to be the next king of Israel, seemed to be dazzled by the appearance of Eliab, David’s older brother. I Samuel 16:6 says, When they arrived, Samuel saw Eliab and thought, ‘Surely the LORD’s anointed stands here before the LORD.’” Look at God’s response, though, in the next verse: “But the LORD said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.’” Later, when Jesus chose His apostles, he ignored all of those Pharisaical cleavers and slicers to choose butter knives like Peter, James, and John.

Today, God still looks for someone who is willing to do whatever he or she is asked to do, no matter how menial or “not in my job description” it may be. While gifts may be attractive sitting out on the counters of churches, God says, “My strength is made perfect in weakness” (II Cor. 12:9). In fact, in Gideon’s case, before the battle began, God made Gideon send nearly all of his soldiers home, until the odds looked so insurmountable that only God could provide victory. So, if you feel unnoticed, under appreciated, or unworthy, you are in good company. Be patient, soon God will open that drawer under the coffee maker and pull out that butter knife on which He knows He can depend.

Lessons from a Lawnmower

A few days ago, I was out mowing my lawn and inspiration struck… or maybe it was delirium from the heat. At any rate, it was early autumn and I was looking at all the bare places and weeds in my lawn. Now here’s the thing. We moved into this house in February, and it had a beautiful lawn. The man that lived here before me took great care of his lawn and landscaping. As I lamented the present condition of my lawn, the parallels with my spiritual life came rushing into my mind. First of all, the lawn didn’t deteriorate overnight; it was a gradual process. The worst part: I knew how to avoid it. You see, a number of years ago I worked for the largest lawn care company in America.

Here is what happened (more or less in chronological order): first of all in spring you should apply weed killer and fertilize your lawn – I did neither; secondly, in the summer, you must make sure to water your lawn in times of drought stress – again, I neglected to perform this task; finally in the fall, you aerate your lawn and sow grass seed to replace any grass you lost throughout the year – here, I completed the failure triple crown. Do you see the parallels?

The Bible tells us to guard our hearts, just like that weed killer guards our lawns. The word also tells us to fertilize our lives. Philippians 4:8 says,

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

In those hot, arid times of drought and dryness, Psalm 42 gives us the solution:

“As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?”

There’s the answer for dryness – time with the Lord. In fact, in John 4, Jesus tells a Samaritan woman who is standing drawing water from a well,

“Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

You see, the dryness in my lawn caused some of the grass to die, which left bare spots. The real kicker is this: they didn’t stay bare, weeds filled in the openings. Aren’t our lives that way? In fact, Jesus said that even if you were gloriously delivered from an evil spirit, that spirit would come back to see if his old house was empty; and if he found it empty; he would bring seven of his friends to move in with him. The parable of the sower describes weeds as “the cares of this life” and says that they will choke out the good things in our lives. Finally, in the fall, aeration is the process of de-compacting the soil.

How about your life? Could it use a little de-compacting? Sometimes the “still small voice” of God is hard to hear in the blaring horns and screeching tires of the traffic of our lives. The final thing we should do is re-seed the lawn. You see, in spite of our best efforts, life has a way of eroding some of our growth; so we must constantly allow God to refill and replenish our lives. Romans 12:2 instructs us, Do not be shaped by this world; instead be changed within by a new way of thinking. Then you will be able to decide what God wants for you; you will know what is good and pleasing to him and what is perfect.”

Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall, there is a process for healthy lawns and healthy lives… and it is a lifelong process. Through every season, hold fast to this promise from Philippians 1:6: “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”