With A Word

Wingnut – Photo used by permission – Jack Jorgensen

My brother, Jack and his wife are exceptional dog trainers.  They have numerous dogs at home from Papillons to German Shepherds.  They appear regularly at the dog agility events and shows such as the Calgary Stampede and I love going to watch them perform.  My brother can get his dogs to do all manner of tricks by using hand signals and short commands.  As Jack would be the first to tell you, some dogs respond better than others, which is why he spends an inordinate amount of time with those animals who are more stubborn to learn or obey his commands.  When the dog wants to be disobedient and run in different directions, patience and perseverance is required on his part to draw back their attention, but he loves every dog he trains, even though at times he calls them with affection, “Stupid.”  When my brother goes about training his dogs, he speaks with authority and he expects they will obey when he speaks.  It doesn’t happen immediately.  When training puppies, or new rescue dogs he must develop a relationship with them first that is built on trust.  Every animal has a different personality and responds to commands in different ways.  The hours and hours he puts into knowing those individual traits gives him insights into their character so he best knows how the dog will behave in any kind of situation.  Eventually the dog is so well-trained that it can block out distractions, focus entirely on what Jack wants it to do and then anticipates and reacts to the next word of command before Jack even says it!

When I see my brother and his dog perform, they both look like they are having so much fun!  I am so amazed by the way he can with just one word get the animal to weave through poles, run in one direction and then another, catch frisbees and then come back to sit by Jack’s feet to wait expectantly for another command from him.  The communication between the two of them is phenomenal.  The dog only has eyes for his master.  The praise Jack showers upon the dog, even if the dog has not responded perfectly, shows the great love and respect he has for his beloved pet.  The dog only wants to please his master because of his great love for him.  They are a team.

I couldn’t help but think about that as an appropriate analogy this morning while I was doing my devotions.  I read how Jesus needed only to speak a Word and it was so.  God followed a pattern when He created the world: He spoke; it was so; it was good.  (Genesis 1:3-4)  Whenever God revealed His plans, things happened just as He said, and God considered the result “good”. (Philippians 2:13).  “God doesn’t make suggestions.  He speaks with the full determination to see that what He has said will come to fruition.” (Experiencing God Day-by-Day)

Jesus never wasted a word.  Every one He spoke had power.  With a word, He created, healed or commanded.  He spoke with authority and expected His listeners to heed His Word.

I know there are times I am not as attentive as I should be to his Voice and I don’t heed His Word as well as I should.  I don’t usually sit in expectation waiting to hear the next command from my Master.  Instead, I am disobedient and run in different directions, contrary to God’s will.  Like one of my brother’s more playful pets, I chase all the butterfly distractions in my life rather than be fully focused on my Master.  I know the great love He has for me because even in my contrariness He corrects me, never gives up on me, and continually encourages me with His Word.

And so the training continues!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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New Year’s Prayer

Dear Heavenly Father,

I have meditated upon Your Word this morning.  I have reflected on this past year, and the lessons You have taught me through the many highs and lows I’ve experienced this year.  In everything, I give You praise!

“Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.” (Psalm 150:6)

I admit this past year I have squandered opportunities.  I have allowed discouragement and anxiety to overwhelm me while at the same time knowing that YOU were (are) always in control and I need not fear.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.   And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  (Philippians 4:6-7)

I have prayed this year, laying my requests before You.  You have been faithful!  Still, there were times I was surprised by You.  I prayed, with mustard-seed faith, and was surprised when You answered back with mountainous blessings.  Forgive me for my lack of faith!

I BELIEVE, Lord!  Help me with my unbelief! (Mark 9:24)

I confess I became impatient many times, trying to do things on my own, in my own strength.  I would find myself running ahead of You, or lagging behind rather than allowing You to set the pace and then join You comfortably in the centre of Your Will.  Forgive me for trying to circumnavigate my way around You, having the audacity to think MY agenda was more important than Yours!

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.  “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”  (Isaiah 55:8-9)

Lord, as a New Year unfolds, keep me mindful of the things that are of utmost importance to You.  Rid me of any stubborn pride or vanity.  (John 3:30-35)  Teach me to better:

“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”  (Luke 10:27)

I thank-You for the year ahead.  I thank-You for Your Son, for Your Word, for the gift of Salvation!  Thank-You for this incredible Journey I walk with You every single day.  May everything I do or say this year be to Your Glory! (1 Corinthians 10:31)

Amen!

 

 

 

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Christmas Potlucks and Fellowship

It’s been a week of potlucks.  Christmas is so busy, but never as busy as the week leading up to Christmas Day.  I was semi in charge of putting together three of the four potlucks this week.  It was a chance to fellowship with the small groups I am a part of in our church.  I told my daughter, “Why is it I plan potlucks when I don’t even like to cook?”  She just laughed.

Despite some anxiety about being the “hostess” at these potlucks, I absolutely LOVE the fellowship, especially with my church family.  Our social gatherings are always centred around our Saviour and remembering Him and all He did for us.  It is that tie that binds us so closely together!

Whenever we gather for fellowship with church family at Christmas, there is always much laughter and activities that have become almost traditional to do each year.  Our Sunday School class (Connection Group) looks forward to our yearly “White Elephant Gift” exchange.  I’ve included the rules here for those of you who would like to try it this or next year.  Here are some other activities as well: How Well Do You Know the Christmas Story and Christmas Carol Quiz.

Enjoy!

WHITE ELEPHANT Gift – an item you no longer need or want…unusual, or indescribably tacky is best…

DO NOT SPEND MONEY on it!  All gifts should be wrapped. Do not mark your gift with your name and don’t indicate whether it’s intended for a male, or a female.

Game Basics:  Decide who will go first…oldest to youngest or vice versa…or draw names or numbers, or whose birthday is closest to Christmas etc.

The game consists of ‘rounds’ where gifts can be stolen from other players.

Anyone who has a gift stolen from them may then steal from another or open a new gift.

The Rules of ‘Stealing’:

Each gift can only be stolen three times. Once that gift has been stolen three times it is no longer in play and whoever has it in their possession keeps it.

When a player is trying to decide what to take, hold your gift so that it can be seen. (Hiding gifts is not allowed.)

Rounds continue until all gifts have been opened and/or stolen and all players have a gift.

Hints and Strategy:

Gifts usually fall into one of two categories: ‘duds’ and ‘desired’. If you are unfortunate and open a ‘dud’, it will probably be yours for the rest of the evening.  Our sympathies will be with you.

The ‘desired’ gifts will be obvious. They will be the ones that everyone tries to steal.  (There is no accounting for taste with some people).

You should consider stealing a desired gift even if it’s of no interest to you. The chance that it will be stolen from you is what can keep you in the game and allow you to continue to choose.

Do not choose your own gift thinking that someone will steal it from you… You may go home with it!

It is MORE FUN if there is a lot of stealing!  I know it breaks about 2 or 3 of the 10 Commandments (at least) but it’s just a game… repent, if you must, afterwards.

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