Sunday, May 22, 2011

Treating Jack Right

No, not talking about the latest Pirates of the Caribbean film. (We haven't even seen it yet, though we intend to!)

This is a devotional thought inspired by our little dog, Jack.

      Jack has turned into a decent pet, though we still have to watch him around strangers. I don't think I mentioned that Jack was the alpha puppy in a less socialized setting. He was actually brought to us a little early because he tried to challenge his father and they had to break up the scene when they realized that more than correction was going to follow. Every so often Jack still kids himself that he can be dominant pet (that position is firmly held by our biggest cat, Louis) or even higher... We read the pet books while training him, and watched a lot of Cesar Milan, and we are doing fine now, but only because we make sure that he has to ask to come sit with us, check his obedience levels often - even over his dinner bowl, get him lots of exercise, and make him earn goodies by doing what tricks he can.

We had a ham roast last month, and Tom wanted to give him the meaty bone, as it looked thick enough to be safe for his size to chew on (not easy for him to fracture.) It took us hours of working with him before we were confident about letting him have the last of the leftovers and the big ole bone.  Even then we had to work him afterward when he started jump up on the couch uninvited....

      Another dog would simply have gotten the scraps, but you do that with Jack and he gets stupid within hours, sometimes within minutes. He takes it as tribute to his awesomeness if not made to beg and recognize his dependence OFTEN.

     People are like that too, with God. We complain about our trials, but they make us ask God for things we too easily take for granted, or somehow think we are entitled to have. Reversals drive us back to our knees to check what is really okay with the Almighty, and not just equate what we are physically able to manage with heavenly permission. We haven't always offended God when trials come. Many trials happen just because we live in a fallen world, but from God's point of view. it does us good to come before Him often, even if its only because we are continually asking Him for what we need and want. Many years of dependence on God builds a healthy habit of talking to God continually, seeking His company, wisdom, grace, and reassurance. We need God ALWAYS, everyday. Everything good about us comes from walking with and before Him, but we are not often able to internalize this wisdom until we have survived a lot of trials and pains, and seen God's calm descend on the storms of our lives. If we persevere, we learn gratitude and appreciation of the awesome power of God, and one day we will know what a generous gift has been given through our current circumstances.

In the Bible, especially in the Old Testament, God complains many times about how people seek Him earnestly in their need; but once they are full of food and well off, they forget to stay close to the One who gave them everything. In fact, He warns Israel prior to entering the Promised Land that they will be tempted to this behavior, but that disaster will follow if they allow themselves to forget His warning. The following history then shows Israel fighting to become established and talking to God often, but then falling away from God toward other idols and carnal appetites during the good times. Eventually invaders come or plagues strike and they beseech God's mercy and help again. He relents ~ and within some years, they start falling away again. wash. rinse. repeat.

Read any of the Old Testament prophets for very long and you will see this problem attitude of humanity discussed. See Jeremiah 3, Ezekial 16-24, Hosea, Isaiah, even Micah!

The New Testament doesn't discuss this inbuilt failing of human nature as explicitly, but it is mentioned as a carnal attitude to avoid...

1 But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2 People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4 treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people. 2 Timothy 3:1-5

"He said, 'In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor had respect for people. In that city there was a widow who kept coming to him and saying, “Grant me justice against my opponent.” For a while he refused; but later he said to himself, “Though I have no fear of God and no respect for anyone, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will grant her justice, so that she may not wear me out by continually coming.” ’ And the Lord said, ‘Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God grant justice to his chosen ones who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long in helping them? I tell you, he will quickly grant justice to them. And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?"
Jesus - Luke 18:1-8

Will He find faith on the Earth when God is always Faithful? What a question! Why would He not, unless we have already forgotten His benefits, chosen to believe we gained whatever we have by luck or skill, or taken a daily sufficiency (or even larger blessings) for proof we are a superior bunch who don't need to check back with the author and source of goodness to remain good? People aren't that daft are they? Are we all like Jack? One decent hambone and we think we rule our world again?

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