March 27, 2020


One of my favorite hymns is Loyalty to Christ
(but only when it is sung in a syncopated jubilee style - no judgments)

A person's behaviors in human to human relationships is a direct reflection of how one understands and perceives their personal relationship with God.

The past couple of weeks have been very different than normal. The Cover-19 has changed everything and every quickly. It has given me a lot of time for reflection.

Much of that reflection has been about my daddy and the ways he taught me to assess and respond to everyday life. I am a daddy's girl to the core. My father has been gone/transitioned out of his 'earth suit' as he called it,  for almost 6 years now, and the adjustment has been challenging, but I have done my best to continue, as we all do with the loss and grief that is a part of life.

The last week or so, I have thought long and hard about the concept of loyalty. It is one of the components of HESED. Often translated as 'lovingkindness', but is actually much more, more inclusive, and one of those inclusions is Loyalty. God is way more loyal to us than we are to God. But as Christians, we work towards being in a stable and consistent relationship with God.

This morning, I woke up to pray and memories of a situation came to mind:

Once upon a time, I used obedience train and show German Shepherd dogs (GSD) for show in the categories of obedience and confirmation. Much of the time spent with the dogs were to get them ready for their purpose, to win in dog shows.  All of our dogs were AKC registered for show and breeding........ But each was also the family companion pet.

What particularly came to my mind was this one dog. He was beautiful with great pedigree, had great potential to win every show that we entered him in. He had a beautiful gate and a wonderful coat of fur, his stature and stack were spectacular.  He was a champion in the making. We had every expectation of him winning national competitions. And of course, as his handler and trainer, it would have put my name on the map in the industry.  We put a lot of time and money into, not only the purchase of this puppy, but in raising him for his destiny. He was our family pet, but he was an investment in his own potential to be a winner. Together we could have conquered the dog show arena everywhere we entered competition.

The problem was that this dog did now see or value his potential the way that my daddy and I did, nor did he have any loyalty to being a member of our family. No matter the gifts that he was created with and the potential that he had been trained to reach, in his heart he saw himself as nothing more than a common stray.  Often he would dig his way out of the fence and be gone, some times for days. My daddy would say, just put his food out at dinner time and he will come home to eat. Most of the time, this was the case, like clock work, he would run back to the yard like nothing had happened. But he would be dirty and have all kinds of things stuck in his beautiful coat of fur. I would clean him up so that he could come in the house, and take his place as a member of the family.  Repeatedly he would run away while he was supposed to be outside in his fenced run (a fenced area specific to the need for exercise and muscle building common to large dogs, especially those who lived primarily inside). He would dig his way out, repeatedly we tried all kinds of ways to keep him from getting out of the fence, but where there was a will, there was a way.   We would worry about his safety and search for him, with no success most of the time. We had to just have the resolve to wait for him to return home.

Then, one night there was a bad thunderstorm, with lots of rain and hail. We got in my daddy's van and drove around searching for this dog.  We were worried that he would get hit by a car, or be shot by someone who was afraid of a dog who was simply taking shelter from the storm in their yard or on their porch.  After hours of searching with no success, my daddy said there was not point in us being in danger by being out in the storm looking for this dog. My daddy reassured me that the dog would find its way home, as always.  But what my daddy didn't tell me in that moment was that he was fed up with this stray mentality.

Just like my daddy had predicted, a few days later the dog showed back up, horribly dirty, but safe.  But this time would be different. My daddy was prepared to sell the dog to a kennel, that wanted him because of all of his potential. This way, my daddy didn't lose all of his financial investment, as he would have if the dog had gotten killed during one if its run away adventures, and now those straying behaviors could be someone else's concern and not ours. The dog stayed gone so much and became such a headache that he really wasn't missed as a family pet, so much as a relief to no longer have to deal with the mentality of a stray.

Soon my daddy and I would pick out a new dog. We would have a new show dog in the house, one that appreciated the love and care of our home. One that would be a great companion, loyal and with great features for dog show competition and pedigree. This dog wanted to be a winner, this dog wanted to be a member of our family. And this dog would go on to win competitions, but in truth did not have the potential that the previous dog had, but did what the previous dog could not stay put long enough to do = win.

I said all of that to say, that with people, their behavior is a direct reflection of their relationship and loyalty to their faith in God. A person can't behave in a way that is not established in their mindset and self perception.  Just like the dog that I once had, people can be spiritual strays and it will be manifested in the way they live their life, and the value that they place on the love and care that they receive from others.  This void in a person can only be filled and healed by God's redemptive work in the life of the individual.

While we have this time of social distancing, lets take the time to evaluate and re-evaluate where we are putting our time and energy, and pray for spiritual strays. Know that it is not your job to keep them on track spiritually, because salvation is personal and only Jesus Christ can be their Savior and LORD.

Whether anyone goes with you are not, 'press toward the mark of the high calling.' - Live and Love like a WINNER.  Keep the Romans 8 mentality.

February 25, 2020

Toxic Disobedience

One of the things that must happen for Christian salvation to take place is Surrender.  It is the realization that doing things your way, for your personal outcomes is not working and that you need the guidance of God and the Love of Jesus Christ to shift and change your life and your nature.  Salvation seems like an unsolvable math equation until you experience it and live it.

 But what happens when a Christian wants to debate God's Will with God?  What happens when a Christian wants to walk in stubbornness?  This is what the older generation would call a 'stubborn will', a place of not fully complete surrender.  It can be a hard road because it puts the individual in a place of negotiation with God and even explaining to God why thing need to be done differently. It is the ultimate in arrogance.  So how can arrogance truly serve God?

What has been on my mind for a few weeks now is the journey of Jonah.  Everything that Jonah went through before and after his doing what God has assigned him to due is shadowed by his attitude.  You would think that after all he went through over his assignment that his attitude would be one of surrender, but it seems that he had to keep dealing with the consequences of his stubbornness. But was it worth it?  Isnt that always the question of watching someone walk in disobedience?  Isnt that always the question that you want to ask someone who is determined to do things their way instead of walking in obedience to God's Will?

It is as if there is a doubt of God's ability. How else could you not fully trust what God is wanting to ask of you? How could you expect to come out with less by doing things God's way than trusting God's Plan?

So Jonah is stubborn to the point that everyone on the ship with him has to deal with the storm, until he is thrown off the ship.  Can you imagine the emotional distress of the others on the ship? Can you imagine how disheartening it is to watch a person face the waves and the sea, and pending death?  Is arguing with God worth it? 

God in his mercy, and in intent that what was assigned to Jonah was in fact his assignment, not to be given to another lets Jonah live.  Let's face it, God could have allowed Jonah to die in the sea and raise up another to fulfill the prophetic assignment, so why does God allow Jonah to live?

In saving Jonah's life, God puts him in a horrible situation - the stomach of a whale. Can you imagine the smell, the taste, the environmental hazards, etc?  The toxic feel of stomach acid meant to digest food on his skin had to be horrible. But this was the place that his stubbornness got him to experience. He was alive, but surrounded by toxic filth.  All at the price if disobedience and stubbornness.

Can you imagine being regurgitated by a whale? That has to be a hard life experience.  But Jonah's attitude is still not completely right about his assignment.  By this point, he is starting to have a better understanding of the seriousness that God has towards Jonah being obedient.  And even in Jonah doing what was such a simple assignment, he still wants to have an attitude about the whole matter.

So then we see Jonah go into a mode a pouting about not being able to do things his own way.  Still stubbornness, but from a different angle, but with the same argumentative spirit.  The journey towards Christian obedience is one that each individual must take alone. Even though other Christians are on the journey with you, and it is important to be a part of a community of faith, the journey towards the blessings or correction of God is individual.

Jonah was set up to receive a prophets reward. He is still know as being a prophet of God, but his disobedient attitude and the outcomes of that are what he is most remember for.  What more could Jonah's future had been besides sitting with his attitude, angry at God, not concerned about the souls of the people that he could have reached in Nineveh  and possibly beyond if he had only developed the right attitude for ministry and let go of his stubborn will.

It is hard to watch those who want to wrestle with God's Will waste precious time in toxic disobedience that could be spent going further into the BLESSINGS of  God's Will. Jonah did deliver the message to the city of Nineveh, but where does his life journey go after that? To take a spectator's seat to watch with attitude to see what will happen is not the ideal alternative to walking in one's calling to do great ministry where you have been assigned.  It is to settle for a lot of land, when God is offering an empire.