Teach your (siblings’) children well

neuschwanstein-castle-467116_1280If you really want to get back at your older siblings for all those mean things they did to you as kids growing up, what one thing should you teach their own pre-school children?  No, it’s not where daddy keeps his favorite fishing tackle, or how pretty mommy’s new lipstick looks on the freshly painted patio deck, or even how to safely use a blow torch, as fun as all that would be.  The grueling, tortuous payback is much easier than that…

Simply teach their little cherubs the word “Why?”

And then encourage them to use it, frequently.  Which is not so far-fetched when you consider that we humans are a naturally inquisitive lot to begin with anyway.  Why, what for, how come, and the other various derivatives are simply part of our internal vernacular, both positively, from our curiosity, (giving us, for example, “E=mc2”) and negatively, from our wounded sense of inconvenience, (“how come I have to study this stoopid stupid geometry?!”)

Either way, we keep asking. 

In this instance, God anticipated our “why”.  (He did, after all, make us this way.)  The Hebrew people all but have their toes on the boarder of the Promised Land as God is using Moses for a few preliminary instructions:

 “In the future your children will ask you, ‘What is the meaning of these laws, decrees, and regulations that the LORD our God has commanded us to obey?’”

Not that the Creator needs to explain to the created, so the fact that He anticipates their inquiry shows gracious condescension.  He reminds them that they were brought out of their brutal slavery in Egypt so that God could bless them with an abundant goodness (which was already prepared for them, BTW).  Then we read this, which is in the same paragraph, as in almost the same breath—

“For we will be counted as righteous when we obey all the commands the LORD our God has given us.’”

Am I hearing this right?  God’s saying, “I pulled you out of a very bad place and I’m putting you in a very good place.  Here’s the stuff you need to do to maintain that, and thus I will consider you as in right standing with Me.”

In other words, being counted as righteous is NOT the same as intrinsic righteousness.  Nope, that issue was decided a L-O-N-G time ago.  I find it interesting, then, when our culture tries to damn the very God Who attempted every which way to communicate and connect with the people who rejected Him to begin with; as if we expect Him to change Himself to fit our image instead of the other way around.

Oh wait…He did that too, only not in the way we expected.  (He does that a lot.)

“So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness.”

Of course, that was the plan all along, which makes that plan even more beautiful.  And so now instead of being counted as righteous because of the things I do (which never worked anyway—the first half of the Book bears testament to that arrangement, again, no surprise to the Author), I am counted as righteous because of what Jesus has done for me. 

If you’ve never seen it, great, here it is.  If you haven’t seen it recently, let’s marvel in a super review:

“But now God has shown us a way to be made right with him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets long ago.  We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.

For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, for he was looking ahead and including them in what he would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate his righteousness, for he himself is fair and just, and he makes sinners right in his sight when they believe in Jesus.”

Back to the original question, why?  Only one answer suffices:

Deuteronomy 6: 20, 25; John 1:14; Romans 3: 21-26  Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Let Sleeping #Dogs Lie…PUH-leeze!

I’m not sure who coined the phrase “let sleeping dogs lie”, but I think it refers to “leaving well enough alone”.  Now that we have Buckley, I can see how the two thoughts relate.

There’s something very comforting about having a dog sleep peacefully at your feet.  It’s also quite a high compliment.  For an animal to willingly lie down and sleep I surmise there probably must be an element of trust, a trust that is earned from familiarity and relationship.  And he just looks so doggone (pardon the pun) adorable!  It makes me want to snuggle up next to him, bury my face in his warm neck, and stroke his soft black velvet coat.  They say this practice brings down your blood pressure, you know.

Of course, then the opposite happens.  Buckley wakes up, followed by him wanting something which usually involves me in an activity other than what I want to be doing at that time.  Our winter morning routine is an oft repeated dance: I sit at my desk with my pot of hot tea prior to going to work, Buckley decides he wants to be outside (it is NOT an biological emergency), I have to convince him to lie down and “wait” and “be patient”.  Evidently, these are not commands that he relishes any more than we humans do.

At other times, all his other physical needs being met, he just wants attention—mine.  The Buck can use his nose like a soft but persistent battering ram, summarily inconvenient when I’m holding a cup of tea at my desk, since his head is just at the level of my elbow.  Other times he uses his eyes; oh, those woeful, cushiony brown eyes!

The overall challenge is that Buckley is demanding, in his own endearingly sweet way, for what he perceives he really needs or wants,…now.  I may have acquiesced more at first so as to build his confidence in our commitment to him, but maturity of relationship must follow as I insist that he comes to me on my terms, not his.  The other way around would not be healthy, for either of us!

Consider the similarities in our relationship with our Heavenly Father:

  • When we are not even aware, God looks upon us with the greatest affection, admiring things about us that we are not even aware of! Buckley has no cognizance of how beautiful his coat and coloring are, or how comforting that musty fragrance of dog is to me. Likewise, we have qualities that bring our Creator enormous pleasure, and we are wise to let this realization sink deep into our hearts as we walk through a world that criticizes and accuses.
  • There are legitimate needs and desires that we bring to God, and are well invited to do so. Our neediness for knowing God’s affection is something He is very aware of, and early on in the relationship we may have wonderful moments or seasons of intimacy (back in the 70’s, we called it “hilltop experiences”). There might even be immediate answers to prayers to build and encourage our faith.
  • We should NOT in any way be discouraged, however, when or if these times progress to periods of waiting; that is, what we perceive to be delayed answers to prayer, or perhaps even more difficult, disappointing answers to prayer. There are learned saints that have written more eloquently and effectively on this subject of “where are You, God?” Suffice here to say that He is There, since that is one of His covenant names to us (i.e., Jehovah Shammah), and the time of dryness provides opportunity for greater affection—on His terms, not ours.
  • It is important that, regardless of what my emotions tell me (or scream at me!), my mind and my heart must stay informed by Truth. I can trust Him to redirect me in my neediness, and restore me to His peace. In essence, I come full circle to a childhood song —

Jesus loves me, this I know,

For the Bible tells me so.

Little ones to Him belong,

They are weak, but He is strong.

Yes, Jesus loves me!

Yes, Jesus loves me!

Yes, Jesus loves me!

The Bible tells me so.

As I write this, the black furry battering ram has been in my lap, and he has now resigned himself to my feet to wait for a more opportune moment.  He trusts my affection and my care.  And he recognizes that I am in charge, although he sometimes needs to be reminded.  The winter storm of yesterday has passed and the sun is shining.  We will head out to play…later, when it’s time.

(excerpt from God Loves Dogs, by Dawn Jones)

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