Dogs, Human Behavior, Pets, Uncategorized

Wimpy Dogs & Egos

wimpy dogs

It took a few times to work it out, but eventually the realization struck that I was gaining discernment into some people’s psychological and emotional states by how they reacted to various types of dogs. There have been nearly a dozen instances, such as when one man showed absolute disdain for a very small dog that was quivering. He so despised the poor little thing for its weakness, that it became evident something more was in play than simply a preference for a more stalwart pet.  People possessing a character opposed to his, usually act in a caring manner—more inclined to protect the helpless little creature, even comfort it.

I supposed correctly that this man has a character flaw, and yet the root from which it thrives is where his psyche’ breaks down. He considers weak areas in himself. Anytime he sees someone, even an animal that resembles what he believes to be inside himself—he wants to turn away, and if he cannot do so, he lashes out. He has a deep sense of inadequacy. Unable to love himself, he cannot love something that reminds him of his own weakness, ugliness or flaw. But this is usually on a subconscious level. Many times the person has no idea that their dislike of things appearing weak stems from their own low self-esteem.

There are millions of us out here who tend to automatically dislike such a man, and dismiss him from any future contact. But knowledge always changes our actions. Love changes our responses. God changes the way we interact with the world around us through the wisdom He teaches us. Compassion is not only for the weak, but for all, even for those we think do not deserve it. Ah, I believe we’re now talking about mercy, which is grown from love.

Submitting to Jesus Christ’s Lordship changes the way we interact with the world around us.

Please don’t take this as some sort of formula to psychoanalyze a person! There are several reasons why someone may respond in a similar manner to a tiny dog that trembles at shadows. We have healthy young men who are still trying to convince themselves they are real man. Walking down the sidewalk with a cute, but wimpy little dog is just not masculine. At this stage of their development they avoid anything that might be construed as feminine. Toy dogs are for sissies, is the mindset. For such a young fellow, under the right circumstances, his thinking will be outgrown unless there comes a fracture in his identity, and then he may become like the first man.

When we begin to understand the difficulties people face on the inside of themselves we can better perceive how to help facilitate their healing.

My own response to the same dog was the opposite of that man I spoke of. The furry little ball of cuteness which he hated so much, drew me right to it. I picked up the puppy and spoke softly to him, stroking its downy soft fur. Mine was similar to a paternal reaction to the dog, because it was afraid, and yes, I began to not like that man at all. But then, the Lord began to show me this stuff, and everything turned around. Instead of disliking the man I began to pity him more than I did the dog. The unfortunate guy was miserable. Some past trauma had robbed him of a deep need of the heart: the ability to like and love himself.

Every good counselor, psychologist or social worker can tell you, “You cannot love others until you can love yourself.” Yes, there’s a lesser type of love we can have if we do not like who we are (by the way, that’s our cue to change). But it’s far from the kind of love God wants to make us capable of employing. When we don’t like ourselves, in every single one of our relationships we will eventually come to a barrier standing in the path of loving as we should.

Consider for a moment Jesus’ words “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” We cannot love our neighbor if we don’t love ourselves. We’re not talking about egotism, or being prideful and arrogant. On the contrary, every soul was created by God, in His own image, and has tremendous value. We were created to love God and to love one another. When we don’t like who we are, we should go to God and ask Him to help us change. As we communicate with God we begin to understand how much He loves us, and that’s a huge boost to our sense of self-worth.

The world is filled with deluded people, not knowing their own worth or value, and the world perpetuates their fallacious thinking by putting them down ever further. Let’s not be a part of that cycle, creating injured souls. We are to be a part of God’s construction crew building people up, rather than on the devil’s demolition squad tearing them down. Be nice. Be loving and kind. Be the light of truth in this dark world where there’s already far too much hatred. It’s not easy sometimes, but that’s why we must also encourage one another as we work towards the time when hate shall be no more.

With Eternity in View…

 

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Growing in Grace, Persecution, Uncategorized, Video

Life is Not Fair

Dealing with the injustices of life

What are we to do when things in life just aren’t going right? What about when others do us wrong? We all know that life is not fair on this third rock from the sun, planet earth. One day God will balance out the scales of justice. But until then… Here’s a tool God has given us to use in coping with it all, and to deal with it all.

 

 

I pray that you will position yourself to receive every gift and blessing God has planned for you. Satan wants to steal it all away from us. But we don’t have to allow it. Trust God, and respond with grace. The Lord will work it out in His perfect timing. “Let go and let God…”

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Growing in Grace, Jesus Role Model, Uncategorized

Me Time

me time

Early in the morning before my time alone with the Lord and my usual coffee and breakfast, it is difficult to respond graciously. Yet each morning from the moment my feet hit the carpeting, demands are placed upon me.

My wife needs her pain patch put in place at the small of her back, and then needs help with this and that. But then, unnecessarily, she rehearses all of her schedule for the day. Can’t this wait until after my coffee? I silently think. Then she feels the need to remind me of all I had shared with her the day before—all that I need to accomplish today. My flesh wants to scream, Yes, I’m well aware of what I need to do. Please leave me alone so I can do it! Meanwhile, I’m tripping over the cat as she blocks each step, rubbing against my legs, insisting that she is ready to die of starvation any second. The dog trails close behind. The telephone rings incessantly. Everyone is demanding something of me, and I haven’t even taken care of me yet. Once everyone is fed and medically pampered, and promises are made to perform various extra duties, a slight grumble escapes my lips. That’s when I reach for my bible—Jesus will help to adjust my attitude. Matthew chapter fourteen…

Again, our Savior’s example is filled with grace as His love is disseminated to all. The news came to the Blessed Nazarene: “Your cousin, John the Baptizer has been beheaded in prison.”

(verse13) “When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place.” Obviously He wanted to be alone, just as I do every morning, for just a few moments. The details of John’s death must have made the news all the worse. As most anyone would do, Jesus sought out solitude that He might mourn, or at least process the loss. But the crowds were rather insensitive to Jesus’ plight. As soon as the boat Jesus occupied landed, there was a large crowd waiting for Him. This effectively robbed Him of the “Me-time” that, personally, I surely would have demanded, having just lost a loved one. But Jesus’ response was different. “He had compassion on them and healed their sick.” (Verse 14).

“Oh Lord Jesus, please teach me to respond the way you do! I can’t even respond graciously to my own family’s needs until mine have been met.” As a minister of the gospel and bible teacher for the past ten years, one would think I have all this stuff down pat. But every good theologian knows that ‘self’ is an ogre which needs to be crucified on a daily basis. I am thankful and encouraged that the Apostle Paul recorded in Romans chapter seven: “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” Yes, even Paul had to submit again and again, putting himself under Christ’s Lordship anew every day. It is a daily walk, and God’s mercy is brand spanking new every day. No wonder we sing Amazing Grace how sweet the sound!

I am pleased to announce that I have now had my coffee and my time alone with the Creator of the Cosmos. I’m feeling the love again and acting graciously, ready to serve others until bedtime rolls around again. I hope to handle tomorrow morning a little bit better than I did today. Of course, I’ll have to rise a bit earlier than I did today. After all, it is a growing process.

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Poetry, Uncategorized

Greet the Morning

morn

Hello world. It’s me. I’m awake and wondering what today will bring. I recall my purpose for living, and somehow know that it is fulfilled by loving. Then God reminds me that what I do, and what I say will influence what tomorrow produces. It’s that thing about sowing and reaping. I have many friends in the Appalachian Mountains, and I love their down home wit and wisdom. One such friend said, “Ya can’t plant maters and expect to get taters” (tomatoes & potatoes). Yes, it’s the same principle Jesus taught.

I’m nothing great when it comes to poetry, but my prose sometimes will shine. I wrote down the following lines this morning.

Greet the Morning

When fresh waves of joyous light are born, all auspicious dawns

Tender thoughts awake the morn, upon God’s love as floating swans

When the glory-clad sun summits, truth and mercy lace fingers,

United they enter humble hearts, grace infused in spirit singers,

And all creation dances in beams of loving truth,

As wisdom then advances, and renews each mind with youth.

 

I do enjoy poetry, and as I bask in the genius of past greats and also contemporary thinkers, I grow. Today I reread this wildly popular poem by David Bates. Enjoy.

Speak Gently

Speak gently! — It is better far

To rule by love, than fear —

Speak gently — let not harsh words mar

The good we might do here!

Speak gently! — Love doth whisper low
The vows that true hearts bind;
And gently Friendship’s accents flow;
Affection’s voice is kind.

Speak gently to the little child!
Its love be sure to gain;
Teach it in accents soft and mild: —
It may not long remain.

Speak gently to the young, for they
Will have enough to bear —
Pass through this life as best they may,
‘T is full of anxious care!

Speak gently to the aged one,
Grieve not the care-worn heart;
The sands of life are nearly run,
Let such in peace depart!

Speak gently, kindly, to the poor;
Let no harsh tone be heard;
They have enough they must endure,
Without an unkind word!

Speak gently to the erring — know,
They may have toiled in vain;
Perchance unkindness made them so;
Oh, win them back again!

Speak gently! — He who gave his life
To bend man’s stubborn will,
When elements were in fierce strife,
Said to them, ‘Peace, be still.’

Speak gently! — ‘t is a little thing
Dropped in the heart’s deep well;
The good, the joy, which it may bring,
Eternity shall tell.

Have a Supremely Blessed Day! 

 

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Jesus Role Model, Uncategorized

A Beautiful View

Standing on a precipice in Arizona, overlooking the Grand Canyon, I suddenly felt like a minuscule piece of dust in a vast desert. Colors blazed from the canyon in layers of history from ages long past. I couldn’t help but wonder at the immensity of it all. The amazing view had a profound impact on me. For the remainder of the day after visiting that tremendous canyon I felt small and humbled. I had to reconsider the true significance of the things which had previously occupied most of my thoughts and energies. What we focus upon and allow our minds to dwell upon has a tremendous impact on who and what we become.

Whatever we choose to view of the world around us has a remarkable influence on our attitudes, moods and thoughts. It’s easy here in the USA to get so caught up in chasing after the American dream that we can forget about things of greater importance. The focus of our thoughts can even determine whether we have a good day or a bad one. There’s a significant daily question every Christian soul needs to ask of themselves: Am I looking unto Christ, The author and finisher of our faith as the model to which I must conform? Am I like Peter when he stepped out to walk on the water and then took his eyes off of Jesus and started to sink? Am I seeing only the wind and waves: All the negative aspects of life?

God offers a plethora of magnificent vistas. I become awe struck at His amazing creations; sunsets, mountain ranges, waterfalls, flower strewn meadows and the like. They invoke a silent reverence in my soul as the power and splendor of our Creator is displayed in what He has made. Yet there is, however, another scene that’s even more astounding. We discover it by peering into the very heart of God. Through an intimate relationship with Jesus we can see and taste His inexplicable love—love in its purest form. There’s nothing on earth to which it can be compared. Even as I writer, I find it difficult to capture and describe in words the enormity and the splendor of divine love.

We, however, live in a material world, where this awesome love must be displayed through us. It’s a task which requires miraculous assistance. Maintaining this staggering view of unadulterated compassion and care is the only means I have found of sharing it with others. Yet, I fear that too often my focus is on someone else’s faults. Mankind is naturally bent towards being more concerned over what someone else is doing or saying. The fallen nature of us humanoids is good at judging others while ignoring self. But in our new nature, given by Christ, we are also given power over sin. Through God’s Spirit within us we can be the over-comers that God envisions. And the only means of being successful in that venture is to remain focused on our perfect model and on His beauty: Jesus. While trusting Him completely. Beholding the wonders of God’s creations help me stay focused on Him and His awesome power.

“For those God foreknew, he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son.” Romans 8:29

It is the sinful nature that is so adept at finding fault with another. It takes the spotlight off of me. Yet when I do that, I have limited myself to a horizontal view. Rather, to achieve a transformation into the likeness of the Son of God, I must think vertically, focusing my attention upwards to God, and then back down into my own heart. I see Him clearly through the pages of the bible, and through His Son, Jesus. Daily bible reading and constant prayer are vital to every soul. I need that very humbling comparison to see myself in the light of His glory. Only then can I view others through His heart of love.

As you know, our adversary, the devil is a master of deception. One of his favorite tactics is to convince me that I’m doing really great spiritually, because, “Hey, I’m doing better than Joe slick over there!” There will always be someone I can compare myself to which will make me feel pretty good about where I am in my spiritual maturity. But that’s a false view. It’s a trap, one I know I’ve been snared in before and hope to never be again. That old sneaky snake is really crafty. He takes a prism which snags my focus and then refracts my attention, dividing that focus. What he shows me is colorful to my old nature, catching my eyes, but what it leads to is only blackness. Talk about building a better mousetrap; he is a master builder of soul traps, baited with pride.

True perfection in holiness and righteousness can only be viewed by looking to Jesus, our awesome model. When we come into God’s presence through prayer and bible study we see the goodness of God in all His magnificence and flawlessness. When His light shines upon us, it illumines our imperfections and weaknesses. We must see the areas that need work and know what they are. This is a prerequisite for change. We see the problem, we address it by repenting, seeking God’s forgiveness, and in return we receive a spiritual blessing.

Do I really want to use a defective model or blueprints that are all wrong to fashion my new life after? , Should I maintain a horizontal view and be transformed into the image of someone here on earth, someone who is flawed? I would rather be changed into the beautiful likeness of Jesus! Merciful, righteous, abounding in love, forgiveness and truth: that’s the pattern Christians strive to emulate. None of us are perfect, so comparing ourselves to one another is just not acceptable.

When I keep my focus on the Lord and on my own walk with Him, I have a much better view, and am in the best position to encourage others to grow with me. Being humbled through the comparison of myself to Jesus, our ultimate paradigm of righteousness also enables me to come alongside another person rather than elevating myself to a position where I would be speaking down to them. In love, we hurt with them when they hurt, and we rejoice when they do as well. Speech flowing from a meek and humble spirit is more readily accepted.

By keeping our outlook vertical, the horizontal view looks different. We begin to see others with love filled spiritual eyes. Instead of anger, envy or fear over another person’s words or actions, we have stinging pangs of love for them. We can then share the peace of God, in hopes of guiding them to a safe haven in Christ.

There is an intoxicating vista that every soul should behold. It is found inside the heart of God, and it is a magnificently beautiful view far greater than the Grand Canyon or any of His other creations.

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Uncategorized

The Cross

Flipping through an old hymnal brought back a lot great memories of my early years growing up attending church. It definitely made me feel nostalgic. And I was struck by the number of songs about the cross. Back then I couldn’t fully appreciate all the songs that sing of the cross of Christ.

There were quite a few people who were crucified on those Roman instruments of torture. So what is it about the cross of Christ that is so powerful? What elicits such teary eyed wonder and praise? What’s so special about that cross? Checking out some of those hymns, the answer becomes evident.

At the Cross

“At the Cross, at the cross where I first saw the light

and the burdens of my heart rolled away.

It was there by faith, I received my sight.

And now I am happy all the day.”

And Isaac Watts’ When I survey the Wondrous Cross

“When I survey the wondrous cross

On which the Prince of glory died,

My richest gain I count but loss,

And pour contempt on all my pride.”

Then: I Saw the Cross, by Frederick Whitfield, The 3rd verse reads:

“I trust the cross of Jesus in every trying hour,

My sure and certain refuge, my never failing tower;

In every fear and conflict, I more than conqueror am;

Living I’m safe, or dying, Thro’ Christ the living Lamb.”

Or: The Old Rugged Cross by George Benard, Verse 3:

“In the old rugged cross,

stained with blood so divine,

A wondrous beauty I see;

For twas on that old cross

Jesus suffered and died

to pardon and sanctify me.

So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross…”

And there’s many more. The love that was displayed on the cross of Christ, and the glorious cleansing it procures for all who trust in Jesus, elicits worship and love, praise and thanks, while revealing the power of God to transform hearts and lives.

Perhaps Jennie Evelyn Hussey’s chorus to Lead Me to Calvary sheds more light.

“Lest I forget Gethsemane

Lest I forget Thine agony

Lest I forget Thy love for me

Lead me to Calvary.”

Another illumining verse is from, In the Cross of Christ I Glory by John Bowring.

“When the woes of life o’re-take me

Hopes deceive and fears annoy

Never shall the cross forsake me

Lo, It glows with peace and joy”

For the Christian, the cross of Christ is the symbol of hope, of redemption and joy. All comfort is found in the shade of that Roman instrument of cruelty and torture, because of the one who died on it.

Jesus, the Prince of Peace and Lord of Glory.

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