Thursday, April 24, 2008

Walking the Dog

It happens every single morning at 7:20 AM. I mean, every morning without exception. I can just about set my watch to it. Just a few moments ago as I sat at my computer looking out the front window of my house I was asking the Lord what He wanted me to blog on today. What can I share with your people that will challenge and yet encourage as well? As I was deep in thought the watch turned over to 7:20 am, and sure enough…it happened, and God began to speak into my Spirit. As I watched the scene unfold, I began to listen to God's Holy Spirit as He prompted me about some things in my life that I needed to be more disciplined in. You may be asking, "What happened?" Well let me tell you!

There is a tall man in our neighborhood that consistently, religiously walks his dog. He walks FAST down through the neighborhood with his coal black Labrador retriever. It truly is a beautiful dog, and I just wonder if he knows how good of a master that he has. What a faithful, committed dog owner this man is. You can see the love that he has for his dog. About ten minutes later, every day, another one of my neighbors walks his dog. He is quite a bit older and he is much slower, but he is just as faithful and committed to his dog…consistently walking the dog around the neighborhood.

I have met one of these men, and I haven't the other. What they do not realize is the lesson that they teach me every day about consistent, deliberate, and faithful care of something that they love. Their care has to be deliberate as well. They deliberately, with consistency, show their animals how much they love them by spending that daily time with them walking through the neighborhood. The older neighbor only walks about two hundred feet and back to his house, as he gingerly and slowly walks. The dog obviously loves every minute of it. The younger guy walks briskly for miles every day, I know this because I see him as I go into the office at 8 am miles from my house. Two different men, two different dogs, but the same results…they walk their dog daily.

What does that have to do with anything? A lot! There are a lot of times that we take a lot less time and care with our walk with God than my neighbors do walking their dogs. Too easily we let a day go by without opening up God's Word, or spending real quality time with Him. Yet, He is so good to us. Some of us woke up this morning, took a deep breath, got out of bed and started off our day without even a thought of "it is morning, I am about to spend some great quality time with God!" My neighbors wake up and not long afterwards, their thoughts are on their dogs, and the time they are about to spend with them.

I am so convicted this morning that I am not as consistent in my walk with God as my neighbors are their walks with their dogs. God forgive me for being so lackadaisical at times. Forgive me for putting other things before my relationship with you. Forgive me for thinking more on my problems than I do on you. Forgive me for allowing the day to get started without taking time with you. Forgive me for asking, asking, and asking for you to give me something that I desperately need, and failing to praise, praise, and praise You for the blessings that you have already given me. I want to do better…I will do better.

Philippians 4:4-9 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! (5) Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. (6) Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. (7) And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (8) Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. (9) Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in meput it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

What a powerful and encouraging verse, yet at the same time, very challenging verse to me this morning. God encourages us to:

  • Develop an attitude of gratitude by DAILY rejoicing, not just once, but multiple times
  • Develop a gentle spirit that everyone can see, but remember the Lord is watching because He is near
  • Develop a trusting mentality, that fights off the temptation to worry
  • Develop a prayer pattern that

    • Takes everything to God in prayer-realizing that nothing is too small or too large for God
    • That understands the importance of thanksgiving interlaced in our prayers
    • Remember that we are bringing these request to God, not man
  • Daily allow God's peace to saturate your life, even when you can't understand how you have peace
  • Allow God's peace to direct you as an umpire. An umpire determines what is SAFE and what is OUT. Without God's peace, stand still.
  • Develop the discipline of right thinking by using this eight point litmus test (true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, praise-worthy)
  • Remember that people are watching you and learning something about you.
  • Live in such a way that people can PUT INTO PRACTICE what they see in you and walk in God's peace because of it.

This last part is where God spoke to me today while watching my neighbors walking their dogs. These men caused me to want to "put into practice" what I saw them doing. In the physical, yes I need to walk my dog more for the exercise. But, more so, in the spiritual. I want to be so consistent in my walk with God that others see that consistency in me and want to put it into practice. I want my family to KNOW a set time that I am spending time with God. I want them to be able to set their watches by it. After they are adults and no longer live in my home, I want them to KNOW that "RIGHT NOW daddy is in prayer for me, and I know RIGHT NOW that daddy is spending time in his walk with God."

"Thank you Lord, for using my neighbors to speak into my life, and to teach me an invaluable lesson, I will be much more consistent in my walk with you…AND walking my dog" Blessing!

Pastor Rusty

Today's "THROUGH THE BIBLE IN A YEAR" reading: April 24, 2008 (Thursday): Job 32:1 – Job 37:24