THE NEW EWE

"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"

Luke 15:4-6

October 19, 2016

LIFE IN THE FOLD:

Jon and I always said that there was no way we would ever have an inside dog. Never say never!! Four years ago, we took my sister to a kennel to pick up her puppy. Low and behold, we saw this tiny gray ball of fur that was was the absolute cutest puppy I've ever seen; and the rest is history.

Sammie was so sweet and good-natured and really good around people; until just a few months ago. He began to change and we couldn't figure out what was causing it. Over time, it has become worse. Recently, we discovered that our sweet little guy has changed into this aggressive, growling, barking, nipping dog. When Sammie is here at home with just me and Jon, he can still be sweet -- most of the time. He will occasionally growl in his throat when I brushed him, trim the hair around his face, or put medicine on him. There have been times when he has become really aggressive with Jon; growling, barking, and acting as if he was going to bite him. In fact, there have been a couple of times when he has nipped at Jon and brought blood; which we think was done accidentally, and not intentionally done to hurt Jon.... at least, that is our hope.

Anytime anyone comes to our home, we have to be really careful about holding onto Sammie. He barks and will jump at them, as if he's considering attacking them; which has caused some to be a little bit afraid of him.

We realized that we have a problem, and weren't sure how to deal with it. We didn't want to get rid of Sammie; after all, we've had him for four years and are quite attached to him. But we knew that we couldn't risk him biting someone -- especially a child. It wasn't worth someone getting hurt by our dog; and we sure didn't want a non-family member get bitten by him and possibly suing us! We knew that we were to a point of having to take action and doing something.

I did some research about his particular breed, and found a well-written paper on why they sometimes start growling, barking, and biting; and what we could do to deal with those things. Basically, Sammie had taken on the role of alpha dog and had put himself in the lead position of our family. We found out that we were doing a lot of things to enable him to behave as he was. When he demanded that we rub his belly -- we usually rubbed his belly. When he jumps up on our lap -- we let him. He sleeps in our bed. When we let him out to potty -- we let him go in and out of the door ahead of us. That all led him to believe that he was top dog and we were at his beck and call; which was causing his aggression.

So we have had to take some steps to do some training with him, in order to reverse some of his bad habits and let him know that we are in charge. We are having to go back and train him in areas where we had lacked in the past and show him who is in charge. Hopefully, we can teach him that we have authority over him and he has to submit to us; and break all the bad alpha dog habits that he has developed.

Many times we, as christians, can develop some really bad habits. We start our walk with the Lord exuberant and sweet and ready and willing to obey and please our Father. There is an innocence about us and a simple faith in what God can do in our lives. But over time, we begin to think more highly of ourselves than we should; depending on our own abilities and strength, instead of fully trusting God. Romans 12:3 says, "Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don't think you are better than you really are. [Some versions say, "Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought."] Be honest in your evaluation of yourself, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us."

We start trying to be the "alpha", wanting to be in charge and trying to be the leader in our relationship with God. We still love God and are thankful for His protection and provision. But more times than not, we try and do things on our own, without fully trusting God's timing and ability to work all things for our good. That can get us into trouble! Other times, we may think that what God requires of us is too difficult, so we try and compromise; not wanting to lose our faith, but not wanting to fully surrender our life to Him, either.

In 1 Samuel chapter 10, Saul is anointed as the first king of Israel. When Samuel anointed Saul as king, he said, "I am doing this because the Lord has appointed you to be the ruler over Israel, His special possession." In verse 7, he told Saul, "After these signs take place, do what must be done, for God is with you."

During the first part of Saul's reign, scripture tells us that the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon Saul on various occasions. It is very obvious that God was with Saul and used him to defeat enemies and to be a strong leader to the nation of Israel. Everything went well for a while, and Saul earned the respect of the Israelites. Battles were won, and enemies were defeated.

I'm not sure if Saul's authority went to his head, or exactly what happened along the way, that made him think that he was above fully obeying God. Samuel instructed Saul to go to Gilgal and wait there for his arrival, then they would offer a sacrifice. After seven days, Saul realized that his troops were growing more and more fearful, so he demanded, "Bring me the burnt offering and the peace offerings!" Saul sacrificed the burnt offerings himself. Just as he was finishing, Samuel arrived. Saul went out to meet him, and Samuel asked, "What is this you have done?"

Saul replied, "I saw my men scattering from me, and you didn't arrive when you said you would, and the Philistines are at Micmash ready for battle. So I said, 'The Philistines are ready to march against us at Gilgal, and I haven't even asked for the Lord's help!' So I felt compelled to offer the burnt offering myself before you came."

"How foolish!" Samuel exclaimed. "You have not kept the command the Lord your God gave you. Had you kept it, the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. But now your kingdom must end, for the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart. The Lord has already appointed him to be the leader of His people, because you have not kept the Lord's command."

From that point on, Saul's disobedience became greater. He still had military victories, but he tended to rely on his own wisdom, instead of God. An evil spirit also began to enter into Saul, which tormented him.

God had chosen Saul, and would have established his kingdom over Israel forever, had Saul not decided to do things his own way, instead of obeying God. Saul could have been one of the greatest leaders Israel ever had. He could have experienced peace and the powerful anointing of God upon him throughout his life, instead of the tormenting evil spirit.

Saul tried to justify his disobedience to God's command, by pointing his finger at his troops and blaming them scattering from him. He tried to explain it by saying that the enemy was heading their way, and he hadn't even asked for God's help. Saul was being tested by God, to see if he would obey the given commands and wait, regardless of what the situation looked like; and he failed. It was not his place to offer burnt offerings; that was to be the prophet, Samuel's, duty.

We often try to justify why we disobey God; why we feel that doing things our way is best; why it's too hard to do it God's way; why we run ahead and do things the way we want instead of waiting for God, etc. We feel as if God should understand our disobedience. Yet doing those things displeases God. It doesn't matter how many excuses or justifications we can give. We can't fully please and obey God when we're not living in complete submission to Him.

The truth is, there are several scriptures that tell us that we, as believers, have God-given authority. God gave each of us that authority in order for us to use it. But many times we are either too scared to use the authority that we've been given; or we abuse and misuse that authority.

Luke 10:19: "Look, I have given you authority over all the power of the enemy, and you can walk among snakes and scorpions and crush them. Nothing will injure you."

Matthew 18:18-20: "I tell you the truth, whatever you forbid (bind) on earth will be forbidden (bound) in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven. I also tell you this: If two of you agree here on earth as concerning anything you ask, my Father in Heaven will do it for you. For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them."

That God-given authority is there for us to use! But we are to only do so when we are doing it for the glory of God and to bring Him honor; not when we are trying to be seen of others and bring glory unto ourselves. If we try and do those things in the flesh, nothing will be accomplished.

I believe that Saul stopped seeing himself as being dependent upon God, but started seeing himself as being skilled and powerful; not really needing God to go before Him. I'm sure he wanted God to be there with him when he was facing the enemy; but his power and notoriety had possibly gone to his head.

Jon and I hate being the disciplinarian for Sammie, having to go back and reteach him, and trying to undo all the bad habits that he's picked up. We hate it when he growls and barks and goes into the attack mode (although he generally doesn't really attack). Our wish would have been for our dog to have maintained that sweet temperament and obedience!

Some people feel as if God enjoys disciplining us and correcting us and "yanking on our leash" to get us back in line. He's our Father! He doesn't enjoy having to be our disciplinarian. But God also loves us enough that He's not willing to leave us where we are and watch us hurt ourselves, and hurt others in the process. God would much rather that we maintain our sweetness; our faith and trust and obedience in and to Him.

The truth is, when we feel ourselves slipping into that "alpha" mode, trying to take charge and do things our way, God is always full of grace and mercy. He loves us enough to correct us and teach us the right way in which we should live. But when that happens we have a choice: we can either be like Saul and continue pursuing our own path, slipping deeper and deeper into sin; or we can be like his predecessor, David, who repented and cried out to God for forgiveness, each time that he sinned and obeyed his flesh, instead of obeying God.

JON'S PERSPECTIVE:

I have quite a bit of sympathy for Saul. Samuel lied to him, and didn't show up when he said he would.

Or at least he thought Samuel had lied. The scripture doesn't quote exactly what Samuel said, but says Saul waited "the time period indicated by Samuel". Maybe Samuel said he would be there "in about a week", and Saul just took it to mean "Wednesday next week, before noon".

I do the same thing. When Loretta says she will be ready in "just a minute", I take that to mean "less than an hour". How silly of me?

However it went, Saul felt let down already. He thought Samuel had betrayed him, his army was starting to betray him. He probably felt desperate and scared. But desperate is usually the opposite of faithful. If Saul had more faith in God, and that God was speaking through Samuel, he would have waited. And if he showed more faith, his army probably would have seen it, and felt more faith, too. And that could have brought a lot more glory to God.

ON THE MENEWE:

Busy Day Chocolate Cake

2 eggs

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 cups sugar

3 cups flour

1 cup cocoa

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 cup shortening

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup milk

1 cup boiling water

Place ingredients in mixing bowl in order listed. Beat at low speed for 3 minutes. Bake in a greased 9x13 pan for 40 minutes, or until done, at 325.

Frost with chocolate frosting -- can make homemade or use canned.

THIS, THAT AND THE OTHER:

I like the sharing of ideas, because we can learn from one another. I may have an idea that you've never thought of, and you may have a way of doing something that I've not thought of.

Our church is small, but has a lot of kids under age 5. After Sunday School, all of the kids come into the service until after worship, then they are dismissed to go to Children's Church. One of the families has 5 children -- 1 biological, and 4 foster. The dad brings the kids to church on Sunday mornings alone, due to the mom's work schedule as a nurse. The kids used to congregate in the back of the room, but as the number of kids in our church grew, that wasn't working. Worship became a little loud and rambunctious, and this dad was needing help. So my sister, who is also the pastor, suggested that on Sunday mornings during worship, those who have no children or has older kids, "adopt" a child and have them set with them. It has worked out very well!! People have jumped in and volunteered, the kids have cooperated (once they got used to the idea), and our worship service has been wonderful. There is one little boy who has sat by me for three of the weeks that we've done this. I stick a couple of matchbox cars and a little bag of fruit snacks in my purse, plus take a notepad and pen. This gives him something to do in order to keep him quiet. We've heard the expression that it "takes a village" to raise children. Perhaps we should change it to it "takes a church"!

THOUGHT TO PONDER:

Let's celebrate our faith inside the church and be challenged to live our faith outside the church. - Wendy Pope

OUR HEARTFELT THANKS TO YOU:

We love you!

Loretta & Jon

http://www.graysheep.org