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Monday, February 17, 2014

Not Much of a Sacrifice

Sometimes a dog owner will ask if their dog can stay in the house instead of the kennel.  Of course, this is understandable since 95% of the dogs boarded are house dogs.  Yet the house is already full of many animals as it is!

With the recent propane shortage and subsequent sky rocketing costs, the kennel closed for a few weeks.  However, here and there I've been able to watch a small dog in the house for a couple days.
Some owners think it's a really nice and generous thing for me to do.  But really, it's a money saver.

Yesterday a Bible teacher was talking about the definition of sacrilege.  Most of this think this means taking something that is deemed holy and using it for non-holy purposes.  He cited another Biblical writer who said what true sacrilege is - giving something to God as if it is a sacrifice, when really it isn't at all. 

In other words, it's not like you're going to miss the so-called sacrificial gift.  What this means for me is if I decide to give up sugar for Lent and I'm already going on a diet, then it's not really something I am giving up for God.  Or maybe I decide to give up going elk hunting for Lent.  Frankly, I've never been nor do I plan to go elk hunting.  Again, not a sacrifice.  What if I decided to give up saying negative things about people.  Oh, now we're talking serious sacrifice!  I may not even be able to carry on a conversation with others! 

Yet shifting my focus to the good inside people instead of running them down would be something that would honor God.  And it is one in which I'd have to rely on God's power to keep.  Any inevitable failure would require running to Him for forgiveness.

But who knows, maybe I'd learn something from a true sacrifice - one that actually cost me something.  Because Lent is the time we remember God's own sacrifice of his innocent son Jesus, for us, those who run others down and don't really like to give up anything at all.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Share the Love

Valentine's Day doesn't put a smile on everyone's face.  It's easy to focus on what we don't have, instead of what we do.  Focusing on love that is unconditional, the kind that gives us a glimpse of God's enormous and unending love for us, is worth celebrating.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

The Most Difficult Goodbye

Sadie had fourteen fabulous years with her owner.  Years of playing Frisbee, car rides, boat trips and other adventures, not to mention being and giving love.


But still, we want more time from our pets, don't we?  It's never a long enough time.  It is hard to sit back and think it was plenty.  It's not a bad thing to be greedy for a sound love in our lives. 

Yet when we lose our pets, we seem to lose a part of our lives and we say good bye to all of that.  Our pets document our time and define many events we experience during those years. 

Pets are a gift to us.  Their unconditional love reminds us that it is possible to experience love that doesn't become angry and doesn't put conditions and expectations we can never meet.  It is the kind of love that only God maintains perfectly and eternally.  It isn't something we see in our lives often.  It is why when we experience it tangibly, we grieve its passing.

But striving for the love of God, striving toward God, allows us to experience the flow of God's love in a way that never ends.  And that is a solid comfort.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Freedom!

While most dogs do well at the kennel, there is a small number who look at me as if I am the Worst Person in the World who Hates Dogs.  No matter what I pull out of my bag of tricks, the dog will not warm up to me.

When their owner returns, they are so ridiculously gleeful that I feel embarrassed, and think maybe I really am the Worst Person in the World.
Last night I heard a teaching on how Jesus' death and resurrection frees us from the punishment of all of our wrongdoings and shortcomings.  It made me think of all that Jesus has freed me from, not just the Big One.

Jesus has freed me from crippling grief.  He's saved me from despair over circumstances that become tedious and overwhelming.  The great love of Christ has freed me from concern of what others think or expect of me.  In other words, not only is my salvation after death secure, but every day I can walk in freedom, and well over my trying circumstances.

And so can you.  From what do you need to be freed?  What are you most thankful for on a daily basis?

Saturday, February 1, 2014

A Lot of Love

Last week, Tug was here.  In this picture, he was still maturing (and it wasn't snowing).  Now, he weighs in around 170 pounds.
This year, I decided to choose a different positive trait to pray about.  January was "Love."  So I prayed to be more loving.  As one might imagine, it really didn't seem like it was working.  Feelings of irritation still flitted through my mind when bumping into people throughout my little world.  Then yesterday, a few situations were brought to mind and I realized I definitely was more caring/loving about the people involved.  YAY!

Then this morning, I heard a message about John, "the disciple Jesus loved."  Sometimes it sounded like maybe John was bragging, but this Bible teacher suggested that John merely identified himself as being loved by Jesus, just the way Jesus loves EACH of us.

What if I'd been praying that I become more aware that I am the one Jesus loves?  What if I sought more to feel loved by God, to see the daily evidence in my life?  Fortunately, all is not lost.  This can be my prayer from here on out.  After all, how can I love others if I don't fully appreciate God's love for me?

And in case you're wondering, February's focus is Joy.  With this winter, Joy is needed!