Monday, June 13, 2005


Lately I've been trying to let Jack hang out in the front yard without his leash, just to get him used to it. He of course doesn't understand that a car can kill him. Both Saturday morning and this morning I had him outside with me while I was getting something out of the car. Both times he took off across the street (both times to see another dog). Both times I yelled at him to stop. Both times he decided to ignore me. Both times he got a stern rebuking, a spanking, and a trip to his crate. I know that he hears me saying no. He's not ignorant. He knows exactly what I mean when I say "no." He just chooses in that moment to disobey.

God speaks to me through my dog. Not in a wierd psychic way. Just through the lessons he wants to teach me. I'm not ignorant. I know how I should behave. I know "the good I ought to do" (James 4:17). At times, though, I choose to disobey. There's also this thing that Paul talked about:

I can anticipate the response that is coming: "I know that all God’s commands are spiritual, but I’m not. Isn’t this also your experience?" Yes. I’m full of myself—after all, I’ve spent a long time in sin’s prison. What I don’t understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise. So if I can’t be trusted to figure out what is best for myself and then do it, it becomes obvious that God’s command is necessary. But I need something more!
For if I know the law but still can’t keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it. I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time.
It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge.
I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there
no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question? (Romans 7, The Message)

We seem to be in quite the predicament here. Paul isn't finished, though.

The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different (Romans 7, The Message).

I've been spending time lately meditating on Ephesians 4. I think it has something to do with this.

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope when you were called—one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

The idea of moving from being a slave to sin to a slave to God is very powerful. I am not my own.

So...what do I learn from this.

1. My dog, like me, has a sinful nature.
2. Jesus came to set me free from my sinful nature. I'm not sure where Jack stands with Jesus. It's quite possible that he's not yet been set free :)
3. God's grace is amazing!
4. I don't have to disobey God. I need to affirm my loyalty to Him everyday.

I'm amazed at how much God can teach me through my dog. I can't imagine what all I'm going to be learning when Adam gets here!

I guess I'll go let Jack out of his crate.

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