Dog Obedience

Forgive me for comparing my relationship with my dog to God’s relationship with us, but something occurred to me today.

I was out walking with my border collie on this beautiful December day. We walked a hilly country road that at one point borders a hay pasture. Its aged wire fence has one wide opening through which we passed to enter.

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With the road to my back, I let my dog off leash to run. She is trained for trails and to be off-leash, so I was very certain she wouldn’t run back through the fence opening and be at risk of being hit by a passing car.

Why could I feel so confident that she would mind me, and stay within the fenceline?

Because we progressed to this degree of obedience over the two and a half years of her life.

As a puppy, she was crazy fast — almost greyhound fast — and she ran with reckless abandon. She was not mindful of my voice, or obedient if she did hear me. She had one thing on her mind: to run like the wind.  I could only let her run inside of fenced areas, far from roads or danger. I couldn’t be sure she wouldn’t run after a bird or squirrel, and fail to check her surroundings. She could easily be hit by a car.

Over time, she matured. She learned to stay attentive to my voice. She learned my consistent commands, such as “this way”, when I take forks along trails or alter course in open areas. When she hears “this way” now, she turns on a dime, comes back to me, and goes ahead of me in my new direction.

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She still occasionally gets in trouble for ignoring me — there are consequences; usually having to go back on the restrictive leash, or, if we are at home, into the kennel for “time out”. She knows that obedience equals more freedom.

I need her to be obedient. There are times her life depends on it.

I’ve learned about her, too. Border collies were bred to work with livestock. She doesn’t want to run off; she wants to stay in the area I’m “shepherding”. Sometimes she treats me like I’m the sheep. She runs varied-diameter circles around me, then comes close, nose to my feet, attempting to maneuver me somewhere. I never taught her that behavior. In fact, I am working hard to train that instinctive behavior out of her; she trips me sometimes, and it interferes with our walks.

When we’re out on trails with our hiking friends, which include her two best dog buddies, I often bring up the rear, and she frequently drops back to check on me. If I were a straggling sheep, she would never let me be left behind.

In open terrain, she puts a large radius between us — up to a quarter of a mile when there is open space — and therefore a large perimeter in which she circles. But she always comes back to me.

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She is what she was bred to be, as well as what she has been trained to be.

So you see all the reasons why I feel comfortable letting her off leash in spaces that are a safe distance from roads or other dangers. I know her, and she knows me.

Now, here is where God comes into this:

Put God in the role of a master. He wants the best for us. He wants to keep us safe and alive. He takes into consideration our nature, our hearts’ desires, and the level of our maturity, both independent from and in relationship with him.

The more he experiences us choosing to stay close to him, the more leeway he can allow us. We can be “off leash”, so to speak, because we are in constant check with him. The more we keep an ear to his voice, the less at risk of peril we are. When we hear him call, or direct, or command, we respond.

We obey.

We obey because he keeps us safe if we do. We have learned that.

But what about those people who don’t obey? They may be a “pup in progress”, so to speak. They’re not mature yet. They’re not even aware they could hear his voice, they are so focussed elsewhere.

What about those people who know him, and know better, but they want to retain their own will and independence? They want to stay in charge. In many areas, or in only one, it doesn’t matter; if there is an area not yielded totally to him, they are at risk.

Those people prefer compromise. If God calls out to them, “Stop! The road! A car is coming! You’re going to be flattened if you keep going!”, a stubborn resistance rises to negotiate.

“I will stop. After a little bit. I just want to keep running this way. Onto the road just a little bit. Then I’ll come baa ….”

But will it be too late? Will they have been hit by the car that God was trying to save them from?

Would God allow that to happen? Can’t he divert, delay, or halt the car, to save them?

God does not often command those who are already choosing to stay in proximity and earshot of his voice. He doesn’t need to. They are voluntarily in a safe place, simply by choosing to be always close to him; to follow and not lead; to hear and obey.

But those who are habitual, stubborn compromisers … what becomes of them?

God is not a puppet master. He does not force us against our wills. If our wills are set on compromise, at best, or disobedience, at worse, God will ultimately let us have our way.

Simply stated:  The “pups” who obey are saved from being hit by cars. Those who compromise are not.

Be mindful of God. He loves you and wants to keep you safe. He wants to spare you from disaster. Stay close. Learn his voice and voluntarily keep within earshot of him your entire life. 24/7. Always.

When he commands, do it. It’s called obedience, and it will save you.


Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

1 John 5:3 In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome,

John 10:27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.

The Mix of Christianity and Pro-Trump

People who consider themselves both Christian and pro-Trump say Trump is not corrupt, even while hearings expose otherwise. Why would they believe that Trump himself does not practice corruption? He circumvents the law. Isn’t that the definition of corruption?

People voted for a businessman whose past and present were riddled with legal troubles. He extorted students who enrolled in his university, which he falsely presented as accredited. He has outstanding cases from previous business dealings in which he failed to pay for services provided. Video recorded his lowly view of women to be used by men, and court records documented payoffs to porn stars.

Currently, he refuses to cooperate with subpoenas, and advises his underlings to do the same. The case in Ukraine, is one example of how he operates apart from transparent, ethical and legal avenues; his exposure has been confirmed seven to eight times this week by people who were there.

What he has done is both unethical and illegal. To morph it into a conspiracy theory or deep-state-proof is the right of every pro-Trumper, but to do so is beyond alarming. It is the mindset of “the Holocaust never happened”; the thinking of “the Earth is flat”.

To deny facts in preference for being “right”, or unyielding in an existing view, is dangerous to others, and most alarming, dangerous to the one who chooses it. It is the stuff of deluded minds. By the time one is deluded, he doesn’t realize that he is.

As for tying Trump to God, as so many pro-Trump Christians do:  consider who God is, and His words. God views those who lead others astray as having “blood on their hands”. Yet Trump is viewed as merely “imperfect”, “like we all are”. We are being led to immediately reject truths and whitewash Trump’s behavior and actions, regardless the violation of ethics, morality, or law. We are being led to discredit anyone and everyone who sheds light on truths. We are even being led to believe in conspiracy theories and the “Deep State”.

Who among these influencers have paused to fear the God they so-assuredly claim to represent? Who among them worries that they could be scattering God’s people, and noted that God says of those who do:

“Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of My pasture!” declares the Lord. Therefore, this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says about the shepherds who tend My people: “You have scattered My flock and driven them away, and have not attended to them. Behold, I will attend to you for the evil of your deeds, declares the Lord … Jeremiah 23:1-2

If anyone without Trump’s power and resources did any one of the things that he has done or said, they would be swiftly fired from their jobs at the very least; removed from even low level offices; brought to impeachment hearings as Clinton was for sexual immorality; fined for libel or slander; or imprisoned for fraud, obstruction of justice, extortion, and bribery.

It is wise to be careful who we associate with, and who we conform to. When it’s not God Himself we’re conformed ourselves to, it it obvious in our language. For example, those who conform to a specific political party instead of Him use the verbiage of their influencer:  verbiage such as “the swamp”, “deep state”, “never-Trumpers”, and “witch hunt”.

Who originated those phrases and for what purpose? Which people adopted them without asking those questions? Why are Trump’s followers now forcefully repeating them, as if they are truths and everyone else (especially Christians) must swallow them?

It is the speech of the blindly-loyal, who utilize and push verbiage and unsubstantiated claims onto others without caution or conscience.

Anyone can claim a thing, but that does not make it so. That this needs to be said, is evidence of followers committed to their stance, regardless reason and facts. Why have people, who used to use God’s gift of discernment, turned discernment off in favor of a shiny new thing?

Because that shiny new thing gives them permission to pull out of storage the carnal nature they used to attempt to hide and subdue. Now they are being permitted (from the top on down) to let loose the worst of their unconsecrated flesh. And it feels so darn good to do that.

They get to be right.  They get to be proud. They get to be illogical. They are free to be mean and cruel and furious. They get to gang up on those who don’t comply with their beliefs. They get to turn away those in need. They get to mock people who react with hurt or anger. They get to be corrupt, and self-serving, and smug.

They get to lie. They get to withhold their finances from service to others. They are permitted to be racist and sexist. They get to gratify their desire to be superior. They are relieved of the difficult effort of subduing carnality and taking every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ. They get to forego the Spirit of God. They get to be more and make God be less.

Whom we adhere to sets the course of our lives. It is the fork in the road — go with the road of God or not, that is each person’s prerogative — but to know God and then choose an alternative route is to knowingly refuse Him. That should set off alarm bells … unless it’s too late, and a person is so far down the road of choice that he is out of earshot of God’s guidance, discipline, and warnings.

Those who knowingly, willing reject Him in favor of an alternate option, shouldn’t be surprised when He ultimately allows them to go their own way.

Will He protect the person who does that? They can demand it, and believe it will happen for them, but is He required to exempt them from His justice when they have rejected Him? Must He oblige them with mercy, forgiveness, and exoneration without their contrition, change of course, and humility? Must He do that for them merely because they demand it of Him?

You have to throw out much of the Bible to land on that certainty.

Our Ability To Spin

This is a historic day in American history, as direct evidence comes to light that Trump and his circle obstructed justice.

Already, with Sondland still testifying, Trump supporters are morphing their stances that God put Trump in office, by rationalizing.  By spinning.

“So Trump still was sent by God to drain the swamp, but he also is draining the sin within Trump as well. After all, we are all sinners. Of course Trump had some sin in him. But he is still of God, sent by God to make our nation great again. On that belief I will not bend.”

Others are maintaining that Trump is still innocent, his circle of men here and in Ukraine did no wrong, and the evidence exposing them is nothing more than contrived, and the accusers are nothing more than conspiracists on a “witch hunt”.

It’s been interesting to watch, in real time, the four days of hearings where people are showing how they maneuver. How they spin. How they change direction as events transpire.

It seems they consider spinning, justifying, and maneuvering to be a virtue. They seem very proud of their consistency. Many exhibit bravado, as if it were loud enough, and angry enough, and forceful enough, it will displace the truth.

The rest of us think it is not a virtue to hold strongly to a person or concept regardless the evidence and truths that expose either as deceptive, corrupt, or self-serving (rather than other-serving, and God-serving, as is the basis of Christianity).

We think teachability is a virtue. Contrition is a virtue. Accountability is a virtue. Humility is a virtue. Yielding to righteousness is a virtue.

Those who hold fast to their entrenched views must spin them more and more in the light of exposure. Those who do that are in the company of others who have spun their thinking in astounding degrees in order to remain unyielding, prideful, and elevated above truth and law.

They should be alarmed that there are people who deny there was a Holocaust, lest they become so extreme. It is a horrific example to highlight the power of a mind and heart to remain hardened and unresponsive to truth, even while the light of truth fully exposes the darkness.

We need to be aware that there are people who see evidence such as photographic documentation depicting the selection of Jewish prisoners for gas chambers, people who even lived through the era, who call it fake. They say the Holocaust was contrived. None of it happened. None of it is true. Image result for holocaust

It’s astonishing that it needs to be said:

That kind of unyielding thinking is not a virtue.

I’ve Seen How It Ends

Choose well who you believe and whose thoughts and ways you ingest. Your life is either for Him or against Him. You cannot serve two masters.

*Song credit and rights belong to Brandi Carlile.


If there were only one teaching in the Bible to guide you, and to assure your correctness in this chaotic time, let it be John 15.

Connect to and remain in the vine. He who is love, truth, and power shall flow through you. Apart from Him you can do nothing.

John 15 New International Version (NIV)

The Vine and the Branches

15 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes[a] so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17 This is my command: Love each other.

The World Hates the Disciples

18 “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19 If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. 20 Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’[b] If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. 21 They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 Whoever hates me hates my Father as well. 24 If I had not done among them the works no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. As it is, they have seen, and yet they have hated both me and my Father. 25 But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: ‘They hated me without reason.

The Work of the Holy Spirit

26 “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me. 27 And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning.

Did Anyone Ask God?

Cindi Gale

Some religious people make all kinds of claims about God and what He endorses:  a certain cultural value or political view, a specific theology, and, increasingly frequently, a dismissive conclusion about people who don’t comply with those views. But who among those “so-sure-of-themselves-people” even stops to ask God what He has to say?

I’ve asked that question of a few individuals before — people who are so entrenched in their “correct”, hateful stances that they don’t even see they are nothing like the Christ they claim to represent. Their answers were all some form of the same “We’re done here” rebuke:

“I don’t have to ask God. He clearly already commanded it in His Word.” The intimation is, ” If you were in right standing with God, you would know this, too”, said non-verbally with a parting prolonged stare, the equivalent of a gavel pummeling their bench of judgment.

I…

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The Illusion of Invulnerability

The conservative Christian church contributed its solidarity, its endorsement, its resources, and its numbers to power the successful election of this presidency. They say Trump represents them, that he represents God. They say God endorsed him.

Those of us who also call ourselves Christians but disagree with the growing voice of American Christianity have a choice to make: join the crowd or not. We could have safety in numbers if we join. We could immediately alleviate the criticism we are enduring if we do.

“Join in, and you’ll be accepted. Don’t join in, and expect our rejection of you. Expect our chastisement of you. You are out of line with God. You are out of line with the Church. Our beliefs are right. Your beliefs are wrong. Let me correct you with scriptures. You are clearly wrong.”

(Have you noticed the increased use of that word “clearly” in the church in recent years? It’s an effective word in addressing dissenters –- it leaves no room for disagreement; they are clearly right and others are clearly wrong … end of discussion.)

“So acquiesce to us and do it now. Or not. But if you don’t, be prepared for God’s judgment upon you. We are certain of our rightness. Our growing numbers increase our certainty. Our victory by our candidate of choice validates us.”

But, I wonder, should they be so certain? This particular branch of Christianity has blended the waters of politics and the waters of God, called it correct, and recruited others to jump in. The resulting river of blended waters is historically unique and especially potent.

The numbers of people within in it have swelled, and the 2016 presidential election hastened the current. They move along swiftly, focused on each other, on their victory, on their momentum, on their common beliefs, on their perceived correctness.

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They give no ear to those on the banks who aren’t among them. Land-based warnings aren’t welcomed; by the time a word or two reaches them, the current has moved them beyond range to be heard anyway.

The isolated river they created that causes them to feel safe and empowered, is the very river that discourages personal responsibility and accountability. It gives an illusion of anonymity and unanimity. It gives a false sense of invincibility.

The very river that causes them to claim endorsement by God causes me and others to feel alarm. Christians who are planted on the banks of that river, who never joined the Group Think River, are observing and pondering.

I wonder about the vast numbers of people in the river. Do they realize safety in numbers is deceiving? I imagine it must feel good to be in that river assuaging their perceived correctness and empowerment, but from where I watch, I don’t trust it. More accurately, I strongly distrust it.

Based on its steadily intensifying qualities, I wonder where that river is headed. Is it possible for it divert to righteousness, love, peace and truth? Will it please God? Will it serve humanity?

Does God endorse them, as they claim, or …

Does He abhor their river? Has it drowned out His voice? Will He silence its clanging gongs of discord and pride so that His voice can once-again be heard?

Has He allowed the river in order to ultimately flush wrongdoing from His Church?

20190904_113503-1Will he turn to the scattered remnant on the banks to gather together in His name? Will He ask them to represent Him? Will he find those who are willing, sanctified, prepared, trained, and who have sacrificed self for Him?

Will He find those who have become less, so that He can become more? Will He find those who will let Him use them according to His will, direction, and leading?

 

We each have to answer to God for what we do in His name. We have access to His Holy Spirit to teach us, to give us eyes to see and ears to hear.

Will we let Him warn us? Will we let Him instruct us?

When there’s no way TO IT but THROUGH IT, Just DO IT

 

You can be perfectly centered on your God-led road of life and still have trouble on that road. Sometimes it is through a vast, fearsome valley that you must travel.

I can attest that it is dark, overwhelming, and intimidating in the valley. Promises and hope for your future that were visible before become suddenly irretrievable, seemingly lost altogether.

The valley itself is powerful — a pit, a trap, a lure to death. It doesn’t ask, it imposes. It insists on its way, it doesn’t offer compromise. It is unceasing in its efforts to convince you your destiny is there in its grip, this is where your road ends.

I can also attest that you must be more stubborn than it — refuse its impositions, its arguments and “proof”, however strong and impressive they may be — your journey will not end in the valley of deprivation. You aren’t staying, only passing through because you have to.

There is life beyond the valley, a life not possible had you not passed through it. Because of your persistent, resolute steps, and determination to yet see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living, you are enabled to rejoin your personal road, an open horizon that is better than before: rarer, purer, clearer, higher. 20180724_090432

 

 


 

“Go Ahead”, by Ron Kenoly

If you catch hell
Don’t hold it
If you’re going through hell
Don’t stop
Remember no weapon
Formed against you
Shall prosper
And every tongue
That rises against you
You shall condemn

Now the Bible says this
You need to learn this
For greater is He that is in you
Than he that is in the world

Now this is what you do when
You’re going through hell
You go ahead
‘Cause you have authority
Over the enemy
You have authority
As a believer
You have authority
Over the enemy
You have authority
In the Name of Jesus

Listen folks go ahead
Go ahead
I’m goin’ through
If you catch hell
Don’t hold it
If you’re going through hell
Don’t stop


Song Credit:  Ron Kenoly