Thorn Bushes and Dog Leashes

“Look to the Lord and His strength; seek His face always.--1 Chronicles 16:11

Amidst my usual helping of chaotic and unpredictable mornings, there is one constant in the day’s beginning: Josey. Josey is our chocolate Labrador...our very strong and excited chocolate lab. The apple of my eye. Blink blink.JoseyThornBushes

Each morning Josey acts as if she hasn’t seen me in weeks. “Dad! It’s me, dad! I love you! I missed you!” (If only I started my days like that). And after our reunion, she heads to the door. Wait, let me rephrase, she attacks the door. “Okay Josey, okay!” I put her chain on, and we begin our morning adventure; she knows exactly where she wants to explore. First, she looks for the rabbits, then the squirrels, then the birds. So much to do! But it’s interesting that once we get outside, it’s as if I’m not even there. The one who opens all her doors, the one she couldn’t get enough of, was now an invisible bystander. Can anyone relate to her behavior?

Well, getting caught in some bushes today was not part of her plan. Tangled inside a bush on a steep hill, her joy turned to panic. And for the first time since emerging outside, she looked up at her master (the one who never lets go of the leash). Now, from my vantage point, all she had to do was listen to me, back up a few steps, and she’d be as free as the very bird that got her there in the first place.

Packaged in the unexpected, sometimes God speaks to us with thorn bushes and dog leashes.

--Jimmy Peña

For Discussion: "Nothing Lukewarm"... Hey everyone, starting the week I'm reading once again Francis Chan's "Crazy Love" and man, it's a tough read. A rough read. Anyone gone through it? Whew. I tell ya, I don't want to be lukewarm, or give God my leftovers, or do anything with my life or my health or PrayFit to be a show for others. But were it not for the grace of God, I would be in a heap, because I AM lukewarm, I DO give God my leftovers and I do things with my life, my health and PrayFit to impress people. What a convicting read (again). Pride is such a battle. Chan says, "Any attention we receive belongs to God" and Dr. Stanley says, "God will never direct us to be prideful or arrogant." (Even in our industry. There are no exceptions. I've said it before, but we can't plan or train for vanity and then humbly accept praise for it (nor can we be proud of our humility on the other hand.) What a battle, huh? Hard work never justifies pride. And if we're lukewarm with our lives, Jesus spits it out. (Rev. 3:16) Ugh, tough. Rough. (God, help us love you, then help us love others, then help us deny ourselves. And thank you for your grace because we - I - can't get it right.) Oh were it not for grace. - JP