AIN’T NOTHIN’ BUT A HOUND DOG

Those who know your name trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you. Psalm 9:10

Hound dogs are known to be independent and single minded. They look for any opportunity to pursue a scent or moving animal. Scent hounds follow their nose where sight hounds chase what they see. Hounds are very vocal but when not working, enjoy lounging on the couch.

Like a good hound dog, we are to pursue God. Hebrews 11:6 tells us that God rewards those that diligently seek Him. Psalm 42 proclaims that the writer thirsts for God as the deer pants for water. Our verse in Psalm 9, assures us that God has never forsaken those who seek Him.

We pursue God through prayer and bible reading. His word gets down into our hearts and minds as we read and fellowship with Him and other believers. We will find Him when we seek Him with all of our heart (Jeremiah 29:13).

Lets be like a hound dog, single minded in our pursuit of God. Look for places of worship where his name is uplifted. We can join like-minded believers in bible study and pursue God in prayer. Lets be vocal in our praise of the God of the universe and then we can rest in him, trusting in his love and salvation.

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HAPPY FATHER’S DAY

Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. I John 3:1 NKJV

Dog father’s do not always get to be with their offspring as puppies. Puppies are kept with their mothers for at least eight weeks and then many leave their littermates to live with humans who take over their love, care, and education. There are as many family scenarios for pups as there are for humans, ranging from loving to dysfunctional.

Whatever type of home we provide for our family or whatever type of home you are a product of, one thing is for sure, God loves us. He loves us just as we are. He provides all the love, care and education that we need to survive in this world.

Psalm 103:13 states, “As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him”. 2 Corinthians 6:18 tells us, “And I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty”. Luke 15 records the parable of the Prodigal Son. The father in that story loves unconditionally and is waiting with open arms.

Our verse in I John calls us children of God! No matter where our earthly father’s are in our lives, God is our father and he rejoices to have us as his children. We don’t need to be lonely. We don’t need to be sad. Our heavenly father is there to comfort us and assure us of a heavenly reunion with our family if we are the children of God.

So if you’re feeling like you’ve lost your littermates or are far from home on this Father’s Day, remember, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18). Call out with the Psalmist, “Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer; From the end of the earth I call to you when my heart is faint. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I”(Psalm 61:1-2) and He will!

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PREPARATION

“Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed”. Romans 13:11 ESV

I am at the age where financial planners encourage you to review your savings for your retirement years. Life insurance becomes more important and funeral homes offer preneed arrangements. I wonder what would happen to my dogs? Making a will is on my to-do list and should have been completed many years ago. As James 4:14 puts it, “Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes”.

Being prepared is a theme that runs throughout the Bible. 2 Timothy 4:2 tells us to, “Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage-with great patience and careful instruction”. We are to be good and trustworthy stewards of what God has given us (1 Corinthians 4:1-2; Matthew 25:20-21; 1 Peter 4:10).

We are also to be prepared spiritually for Heaven. Our verse in Romans 13 tells us that salvation is nearer to us today than when we first believed. Mark 13:32 states that no one knows the hour when Jesus will return so we should be prepared. He gave us the commandments to love the Lord with all our hearts, and souls and mind and to love others as ourselves (Matthew 22:36-39). John 14:15 tells us that Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commands”.

We are also told to be prepared to tell others. I Peter 3:15 states, “but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, but with gentleness and respect”, I Corinthians 4:1 puts it this way, “This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.” We are to be stewards of God’s word, passing it on to others. Hebrews 10:25 tells us not to give up meeting together and when we get together to encourage each other. 2 Timothy 4:2 explains, “Preach the Word, be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage-with great patience and careful instruction”.

Do you know someone who needs encouragement? Perhaps you have a loved one who has never placed their faith in Jesus as their Savior and Lord? Be prepared to share the mysteries of God with them as a trustworthy steward.

Maybe like me, it is you who needs to get prepared. Not just as a good steward of what God has given you here on earth and to make sure your dogs have a good home but to prepare yourself to meet Jesus face to face. The group Mercy Me in I Can Only Imagine explores the question of what they would do when they meet Jesus. Will we dance in His presence or be in such awe that we stand in silence or fall to our knees in worship?

The Son of God is the Savior of the World and that includes me and you. He is great and worthy of all praise. Let’s be prepared to meet him in glory and give him all of our worship here on earth!


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PACKING UP

Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country, And from your relatives And from your father’s house, To the land which I will show you, And I will make you into a great nation, And I will bless you, And make your name great; And you shall be a blessing”. Genesis 12:1-2 NASB

We are going away for a few days so my son will be keeping our dogs. I started getting their things ready last night. I washed extra food and water bowls. I got dry food, canned food, soft food and treats ready. I packed up Burt’s ear wash. He’s had a tummy problem recently so I got his meds and directions in a bag. I cut his Pepcid in half so he could get 1 1/2 tablets. I gathered harnesses and extra leashes just in case one broke. It isn’t as bad as packing when I had three little ones but it still requires a lot of thought, organization, and a lot of stuff!

I can’t imagine being Abram when he got the call to pack up and leave his home. I know that where I’m going only requires a two hour drive but God didn’t tell Abram where he was going. He was told that he would be shown where to go. But when? I usually have a destination in mind while I’m packing.

God did give him promises, though. Abram would be a great nation, he’d be blessed, his name would be great, and he’d be a blessing to others. Genesis 15:6 tells us that Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness. Hebrews 11 mentions Abram in the Hall of Faith saying that he obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. He made a few mistakes along the way but Abram packed up and went.

The Israelites had to pack to leave Egypt as they followed Moses to the promised land. To say that they made a few mistakes along the way would be an understatement. Their complaining made their journey into a 40 year trek in the wilderness. They could not have possibly known to pack enough for such a long journey but God caused their clothes and shoes to never wear out (Deuteronomy 29:5) and food was always provided (Exodus 16).

Are you packing for a journey? Have you made a list so you are organized and don’t forget anything? Are you ready for any adverse circumstances or weather you can’t predict? And do you know where you are headed?

We are all on this journey called life. Our destinations might not always be the same and we have choices along the way that provide twists and turns. Matthew 7:13-14 states, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it”. John 14:6 tells us how to get on the straight and narrow road to eternal life, “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.'”

The Bible is full of instructions for your journey. It will give you a packing list and directions so that you are on the right road with everything you need and JESUS is ALL you need! He’s waiting for you at the end of your road and has prepared a place for you (John 14:1-4) so travel light and enjoy the trip.

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SURRENDER

Rosie

For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. Matthew 16:25 ESV

There are many stories about General Robert E. Lee and General Ulysses S. Grant and the battles they fought. Both were dog owners. It is said that General Lee saved a terrier, he named Spec, from drowning. During his time in the White House, former General Grant owned a Newfoundland named Faithful and a dog named Rosie whom he talked to as he ate.

I’m not sure if any dogs were present on April 9, 1865 when the two generals met at Appmattox Court House in Virginia. Here, Lee surrendered the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia to Grant, marking the beginning of the ending of the American Civil War. Surrender means to cease resistance to an enemy or opponent and submit to their authority. It would be 16 months before the war officially ended as other confederate troops were not as quick to surrender.

When we surrender our lives to Jesus Christ, we cease resistance and submit to His authority. All the battles are not over though as the enemy of our souls keeps fighting. Ephesians 6 tells us to put on the full armor of God and to stand strong in the Lord. Verse 12 states, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms”. As we stand firm in the Lord, the victory is ours.

James 4:7 advises us, “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you”. We surrender ourselves to God and resist the enemy and he will flee. The victory comes through full surrender to God.

Our example is Christ. He fully surrendered and gave his life for us. It looked like a total defeat as he lay in the grave to all involved until he appeared resurrected that first Easter morning. I Corinthians 15:3-6 puts it this way, ” For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep”.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). Christ surrendered and won the victory. Surrender to him today. He’s already won the battle. Stand firm and look to Jesus and he will give you victory over any leftover skirmishes attacking you today.

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Pickles, Pickleball, and Other Names

“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). Matthew 1:23 NIV

Pickleball has become very popular in today’s sport’s world. It has reportedly 2.8 million players and tournaments and pickleball enthusiasts can be found from the smallest town to exotic locales all over the world.

The Margaritaville USA Pickleball National Championships are being held now outside of Palm Springs, CA. There is a handmade dog adorning the grounds of the tournament because rumor has it that Pickleball got it’s name from a cockapoo puppy named Pickles. Pickles was known to take the wiffle balls in its mouth and make a run for it.

Pickles’ owners state that the game’s name really came from the sport of rowing because Pickles did not become part of the family till two years after pickleball was given its name. The dog’s owner rowed in college and a mismatched crew boat team was referred to as a “pickle boat”. Whichever story you choose to believe, Pickleball has a large following and is becoming known around the world.

Isaiah 7:14 states, “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel”. This proclamation was repeated in Matthew by the angel to Joseph in verse 23. In verse 21, the angel tells Joseph to give him the name Jesus because he will save his people from their sins.

Joseph did what the angel commanded and the name Jesus was given to the new baby. A baby named Jesus truly was Immanuel, God with us. He brought heaven to earth in a most unlikely way. The tiny form of a newborn will save us from our sins and Mary delivered God into our midst.

Unlike Pickleball, we are sure how Jesus got his name. There is no question which story to believe. Isaiah predicted it long before the virgin gave birth. Angels were sent to instruct the parents-to-be on who this child was and what he was to be called and just what his name meant to them and to all people that need delivered from their sins. Choirs of angels sang to announce his holy birth.

Jesus’ name is known and worshipped from the smallest towns to exotic locales all over the world. From lowly shepherds to the wisest kings, his birth was celebrated and to this day, we come from all walks of life to proclaim his birth to a world that needs God with us.

Won’t you celebrate the name above all names this Christmas? Acts 4:12 proclaims, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” Worship Jesus, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords!


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A LIFE REMEMBERED

“I thank my God every time I remember you.” Philippians 1:3 NIV

Each Sunday, our local newspaper publishes an article called “A Life Remembered”. It takes a look back at the life of someone who has recently died. It serves as a memorial for a person who will always be loved and whose memory will be cherished. I’d like to do that for Mallory Lynn Reid-Lucas who would have celebrated her birthday today. She recently left us broken hearted but will always live on in our hearts.

Mallory was a natural pack leader.

She loved watching TV. It had to be hung high as she didn’t think animals were necessary on television. She has been known to attack and win the fight with other animals appearing on television shows or commercials.

Mallory loved to swim and lounge in the kiddie pools. She always carried her leash in her mouth just as she did when she went on walks.

Mallory loved the snow.

Mallory liked to play. She loved to play ball and tug of war. Toys didn’t usually last too long because Mallory also liked to chew.

Mallory liked to dress up. She willingly came to you for reindeer antlers, Mickey Mouse ears, thundershirts, bandanas, and Halloween outfits. She was glad to oblige your need to dress her up for the holidays.

Mallory was trusted. She was a friend and protector of the family cat. She wagged her tail so the cat could play and let her hang off her face. Eventually, Mallory would take her paw and push her away but not before she’d had her fun. She loved her human sister and that love was returned. She was climbed on, fed, rested on, slept on and rode like a horse.

Mallory got older. She was not always gray. She started out as pure chocolate. Her life remembered started out the day she was dropped on my bed as a puppy. We watched as she learned to negotiate stairs and jumping on furniture. We watched and tugged with her playing with her toys and canine sisters. I woke up with her face on the pillow next to me many times. When our eyes met, she gently licked me.

Now Mallory is not putting her graying face in my lap or waiting for treats. She’s not playing tug or basking in the sun or rolling in the snow. She’s not barking at the television or growing bored with me and climbing the stairs to the spare bedroom where she can enjoy the neighborhood view from a comfy bed. She’s not climbing into the driver’s seat of the car trying to steer. Mallory is also not in pain anymore or panting heavily so that she worries the entire family. She is at peace but she has left a hole in the hearts of all those who knew and loved her.

If someone wrote an article about your life would it be a glowing tribute to a life well lived? Paul wrote to the Philippians in chapter one, verse 13, telling them that he thanked God every time he remembered them. He goes on to say that he prays with joy for them and that they are his partners in the gospel. He states that he believes God will complete the work he started in them. In verse 7, he tells them they are in his heart. He prays that they will grow and be more like Jesus everyday.

Do you work along side Christian friends? Are they thankful for your life and the work that you do? Do they pray for you and help you to grow in the knowledge and love of Jesus?

Just like Mallory will always be in the heart of those of us who love her, Paul had the Philippians in his heart. Is your life a life to be remembered? Are you holding others up in prayer and keeping them in your heart? I pray that as you love Jesus and others, that your life will be remembered in the heart of all those you come in contact with each day.

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THE FALL OUT

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“Some time later Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us go back and visit the believers in all the towns where we preached the word of the Lord and see how they are doing.”  Barnabas wanted to take John, also called Mark, with them, but Paul did not think it wise to take him, because he had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in the work.  They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company.  Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus, but Paul chose Silas and left, commended by the believers to the grace of the Lord.”  Acts 15:36-40 NIV

Mallory and Seneca are the best of friends.  They get along great except once in awhile, they let something come between them.  That something is usually food, treats, or a new toy.  The disagreement can quickly escalate into a dogfight with two Alpha females demanding their own way.

Paul and Barnabas had been preaching the good news of Jesus everywhere they went.  Paul suggested that they return and check on the new converts in the towns where they had preached.  Barnabas wants to take Mark with them but Paul doesn’t want to because Mark left them and went back to Jerusalem as recorded in Acts 13:13.  In Colossians 4:10, Paul calls Mark, the cousin of Barnabas, so it’s family and Barnabas believes in his cousin.  

The Bible says that they have such a sharp disagreement that the two men part ways.  Barnabas gets with his cousin and heads to Cyprus and Paul travels with Silas to Asia Minor.  God used the split to reach more territory.  

Acts 4:36 states, “Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means son of encouragement).”  Barnabas was an encourager and just as he encouraged John Mark in his ministry, he had done the same for Paul.  He was the one who took up for Saul when the disciples didn’t trust him.  Acts 9:27 tells us, “But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles.  He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus.”  

Paul eventually comes to rely on John Mark.  In II Timothy 4:11 he requests, “Only Luke is with me.  Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry”.  Reconciliation has taken place and Paul values Mark as a vital part of his spreading the gospel message.

 Garth Brooks sings the song, “Two of a Kind, Workin’ on a Full House”.  One of the lines in it says that sometimes we fight just so we can make up.  I would never recommend that especially in the church but when God is in the midst, he can bring about the most amazing things.  Reconciliation can occur and the gospel message can be spread to the ends of the earth.

Just like our dogs when they fight, the fall out from sharp disagreements among believers is not pretty.  Trust all your relationships, good and bad, to God.  In all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight (Proverbs 3:6).

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Sometimes we fight just so we can make up

DANCING IN THE SKY

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God”. Hebrews 12:1-2 NIV

On May 12, 2021, we lost Seneca. She had been fighting a losing battle to liver cancer for over ten months. About six years ago, we lost Buffy and our hearts broke. Bruce had many health issues and was peacefully put to sleep when the time was right. Danni left us on July 27, 2019 after a month long battle with an unknown, mysterious illness. Yesterday, Duke breathed his last after losing the loss of his legs and all we were told was he had three slipped discs.

Death and loss come to each of us. We cry and we cope the best way we know. Hebrews 6:19 -20 states, “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek”.

We are not walking alone. We are following Jesus to our eternal home. It is not an unknown place with no one we know. We know Jesus and it is filled with our loved ones. They are called “a great cloud of witnesses” in Hebrews. They are our witnesses that heaven is a better place with no pain or crying and where Jesus is the light. Revelation 21:23 tells us, “The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is the lamp”.

The song “Dancing in the Sky” asks questions about heaven and tells of our emptiness here without those we love. It talks of a hope that they are dancing in the sky. With Jesus, we can be assured of that fact. Our loved ones are home cheering us on so let us run the race God has set before us until we are all reunited and rejoicing in heaven.

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I’M FREE!

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1

I took Burt out and hooked his collar to the lead that runs from our house to our neighbors and then went inside to get Lucy. I brought Lucy outside and Burt was standing in the yard where I left him. The only thing different was he was not hooked up to anything. The hook had not latched and he was free as a bird but he didn’t know it. Burt was standing there thinking he was bound in a limited amount of space.

That is the way I act a lot of the time. I’m free in Christ but I walk around thinking I’m restricted by my own limitations. I’m bound by my sin that has been forgiven and forgotten by a loving savior. I display disbelief by my actions and unbelief by my inaction.

John 8:36 states that if the Son has set you free, you will be free indeed. James 1:25 tells us, “But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it–not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it–they will be blessed in what they do”.

Jesus paid the price for our freedom. We have been set free. He has instructed us to stand firm and not become burdened by the weight of sin that has been forgiven. Don’t be bound to the law of sin and death but walk in the freedom of Christ’s Holy Spirit.

Don’t waste your freedom standing in one spot. Run free with Jesus and reach the world for his glory.

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