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Bunny Lessons Archives

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Previous "Bunny Lessons" are here.

2011

 

June-July

 

ANOTHER CAT STORY

 

"Love your enemies, and pray for those who

persecute you . . ."

Matthew 5:44

 

Some of you might recall that dear Bunny had a "thing" about cats and squirrels; she would behave in a most ferocious fashion when she crossed paths with a cat.  Faced with a barking one hundred pound labradoodle cats would normally take the better part of valor and run away from her as quickly as possible. However, there was one cat - a big, fluffy gray cat - that simply would NOT leave Bun alone.  Every time this cat saw Bunny it would casually stroll toward her, snuggle with her, lie still and let Bun sniff her and even follow us as we walked.  This behavior left Bunny totally clueless. She had NO idea how to respond to the affection lavished upon her by this big gray cat.  Now,  there's a little "Bunny Lesson" here but I'll just let this canine parable point you towards that lesson with NO help from me except the scripture verse with which we began and a word of advice from my Mother "You can catch more flies with honey that vinegar."  GOD IS LOVE!  

 

Blessings, prayers, &  LOVE,   leh+

Spring

 

Bunny Lesson

 

“You can throw the whole weight of your anxieties upon Him, for you are His personal concern.”   1 Peter 5:7

 

“ . . . give first place to His Kingdom and to what He requires, And He will provide you with all these other things.”  Matthew 6:33

 

Bunny loved to relax in our front yard in the shade of the big sweetgum tree. She would lie in the shade and just watch the world go by (I would take a book out to read while sitting close by her).  Occasionally, when we got up to go back in the house she would begin to limp.  My thoughts immediately jumped to the “worst” (her hip problems) but then I would discover that she simply had a sweetgum ball stuck between her toes.  In the house, Bunny would panic at the presence of a fly in the room.  If I could not isolate and kill the fly quickly then she would go the very back of the house to hide from the offending creature.  This morning I was thinking about “anxieties” and “worries.”  How often do we imagine a crisis when our situation is really only a sweetgum ball?  How often do we turn a fly into a dangerous nemesis?

 

We are reminded over and over again in Holy Scripture that God will never leave us nor abandon us.  That Jesus is with us always.  That we are God’s children and He loves us.  That we are His personal concern so that we should give Him our anxieties.  Jesus tells us that if we will just put His Kingdom FIRST then He will take care of our worries. IF we keep our focus upon Jesus and the Kingdom of God then we can recognize the flies and sweetgum balls of life for what they truly are and move forward in faith and in HIS amazing grace and love. 

 

GOD IS LOVE!  

 

Blessings, peace, grace, prayers, & LOVE,  leh+

January-February
 

OFF THE LEASH!

(Bunny Lessons)

 Bunny and I went to the park yesterday morning.  After we got to the nature trails in the back of the park (where no one was about on a weekday) I unclipped her leash to let her roam on her own.  Unlike her puppy days, she did not take off running wildly into the distance with me calling for her to “come.”  Instead, she walked nearby, stayed close, and returned to my side over and over again as we enjoyed the cool morning outing together.  So, how is our walk with God?!?  Is He able to let us “off the leash” or do we run wild into the distance when the opportunity comes available for freedom?  Have we learned the joys of walking near to our heavenly Father; returning to His side often to enjoy the peace of His presence and companionship? We were created for fellowship with God, but we have the freedom to walk with Him or to run from Him.  James says that if we draw close to God then He will draw close to us.  We can take a “tip” from dear Bun:  the love, fellowship, and companionship derived from freely walking close to one another is far more rewarding than the brief pleasures of running loose and wild.  God is calling:  want to walk in the park?  Sounds GREAT!  Here’s hoping that you and the Lord will enjoy the outing as much as Bun and I enjoyed ours. 

Blessings, peace, grace, love, & Happy Trails!

~ Link                       

 

December 2010

 

CROWDED OUT!

(A Bunny Lesson)

“No servant can be the slave of two masters . . .” 

Luke 16: 13

When I am home alone I sleep on the sofa.  When Bunny was a puppy she always slept on the sofa with me.  However, in the process of growing from a ten pound puppy to a one hundred pound adult somehow dear Bun did not grasp the fact that the sofa really was not big enough for the both us.  Somewhere in the night she would jump up on the sofa with me as we would both struggle to find some way to accommodate one another within the narrow confines of the couch.  Usually, she would give up at some point to stretch out nearby on the floor.  Just as Bunny did not understand how she had grown too large to share the sofa with me, we often allow “stuff” in our lives to grow so large that it crowds out God.  These things might be money, possessions, people, issues, or “whatever.”  They might have begun as a blessing, but gradually grow out of all proportion until now the “stuff” has become the master.  The “whatever” is crowding out God.  We know that there really is NOT room for both.  We know that we cannot serve two masters.  Someone or something is going to have to get off the sofa of our lives if we are to find the peace with God for which we are searching.  What is crowding out God in our lives?  Our Heavenly Father reminds us of His rightful place as FIRST in our lives.  With Him FIRST all else will find its proper place.  Always in all ways GOD IS GOOD! 

Blessings, peace, grace, prayers, & LOVE,     Link+

September 2010

 

BUT IS IT GOOD FOR YOU ?!?

(Bunny Lessons)

 

“We are allowed to do anything,” so they say. 

Yes, but not everything is good. 

“We are allowed to do anything”

- but not everything is helpful

                                                                                  

1 Corinthians 10:23

       

 

Dear Bunny (our hundred pound labradoodle) ate a gum wrapper the other day.  That shiny silver paper attracted her attention.  It certainly smelled good.  Furthermore, the gum had left a sugar residue that gave it a sweet taste.  Looks good, smells good, taste good . . . must be good, right?  WRONG!  Obviously, a gum wrapper is not a good thing to eat.  No doubt, you are way ahead of me on this one,  right?  We are so often attracted to things that appear to be good, but are NOT good for us; they are NOT “helpful.”  The Apostle Paul often discusses our FREEDOM in Christ.  Writing to the Corinthians he says that we are FREE to do anything BUT “not everything is good . . . not everything is helpful.”  Often we make poor choices.  It is NOT that what we chose to do is wrong or sinful, but rather that our actions are NOT helpful; that is, we are not taking actions or engaging in activities that will result in positive good.  Paul is concerned that we NOT only reject sin, but that we also engage in positive, productive activities.  If we are to press FORWARD in faith and love then we must be careful that our behaviors and even our thoughts are for our good.  In God’s Holy Word we are encouraged to “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”  (2 Corinthians 10:5)   Yes, God expects a lot from us.  His goal for us is that we do more than avoid sin.  He wants us to chose lifestyles, activities, and even thoughts that will make a positive difference in our Christian journey as we draw ever closer to Him.  So, don’t eat any gum wrappers.  Unlike Bun, we should know by now that, even though it might be flashy, the real question is “but is it good for you?” 

Blessings, peace, grace, love, & Happy Trails!        Link

August 2010
 
VAYA CON DIOS

(A Bunny Lesson)

“I am with you always . . . “  Matthew 28:20

 

Bunny wanted to go EVERYWHERE with me!  Even if I was simply going out to check the mail she wanted to come along.  No matter what errands I might need to run nor how many stops I might need to make she wanted to ride with me.  Most of my “usual” stops took for granted that Bun would be with me; she was expected and accepted.  The destination did NOT matter to her, she just wanted to be with me.  So, how much do we want to be with God?!?  Do we love Him so much that we want to be with Him all the time?  Do we love Him so very deeply that the destination does not matter?  Or, does our commitment stretch only so far as convenience and our desire for fellowship include only the fun stops?  Jesus tells us that He is with always; yes, always!  In English it is common to tell someone upon parting “God go with you.”  In Spanish, however, the expression is  “vaya con Dios” which, if I recall correctly from my high school Spanish class, translates “Go with God!”  While similar, these really are two very different concepts.  Are we thinking that we will simply drag Jesus along wherever we might want to go or, instead, is our desire to go with Him wherever He might lead?  How deep is our desire to be with the living God?  Are we truly willing to “Go with God?”  Vaya con Dios, amigos!  

Blessings, peace, grace, prayers, & LOVE, Link+

July 2010 
 
GREEN PASTURES

(A Bunny Lesson)

“He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: He leadeth me beside the still waters.  He restoreth my soul:  He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His names sake.  Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for thou art with me . . .”  Psalm 23: 2-4

This past weekend we had a couple of really nice days; those days when the temperatures are still cool, but the sun is shining bright.  Trees are beginning to bud and the grass is slowly turning green.  Dear Bunny loved these days.  When she was healthy we would seek out the “green pastures” and walk “beside the still waters.”  She liked to just wander, sniff, look, and generally just enjoy the day.  She liked to just sit quietly to watch the world go by us.  God walked with us.  We shared the “green pastures” with our Heavenly Father.  He calls us to join Him in these same “green pastures.”  We are far too busy.  Even in our “quiet time” we are far too intense.  Bible study and prayer becomes so focused, so serious, that God is calling us to get out – wander, sniff, and look – sit quietly to watch the world go by us – and just enjoy the day.  He promises to restore our soul and to lead us in the paths of righteousness.  He promises that He is with us.  Without a doubt, Bun knew how to experience the joys of a shade tree on a sunny day and the peace of a destination-free walk.  Her “lessons” continue; thank you Father for the insights you share with us through her life. 

Blessings, peace, & LOVE, Link+

 

JUNE 2010

 

OFF THE LEASH!

(Bunny Lessons)

 

Bunny and I went to the park yesterday morning.  After we got to the nature trails in the back of the park (where no one was about on a weekday) I unclipped her leash to let her roam on her own.  Unlike her puppy days, she did not take off running wildly into the distance with me calling for her to “come.”  Instead, she walked nearby, stayed close, and returned to my side over and over again as we enjoyed the cool morning outing together.  So, how is our walk with God?!?  Is He able to let us “off the leash” or do we run wild into the distance when the opportunity comes available for freedom?  Have we learned the joys of walking near to our heavenly Father; returning to His side often to enjoy the peace of His presence and companionship? We were created for fellowship with God, but we have the freedom to walk with Him or to run from Him.  James says that if we draw close to God then He will draw close to us.  We can take a “tip” from dear Bun:  the love, fellowship, and companionship derived from freely walking close to one another is far more rewarding than the brief pleasures of running loose and wild.  God is calling:  want to walk in the park?  Sounds GREAT!  Here’s hoping that you and the Lord will enjoy the outing as much as Bun and I enjoyed ours. 

 

Blessings, peace, grace, love, & Happy Trails!  

May 2010
 

LOVE  &  CAUTION

“. . .  love one another deeply from the heart.” 1 Peter 1: 22

  “Above all, maintain constant love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins.”   1 Peter 4: 8

Casey is a German Shepherd (about five years old).  She is a “rescue” dog who came to our neighborhood recently in the process of adoption.  It has been our privilege to spend some time with this gentle girl; in fact, we took her for a walk yesterday.  I went to her new home yesterday, greeted her with a hug, then we took her for an outing.  After about a half hour walk we stopped in the shade at a local park to cool off a bit before returning her.  As I sat in the grass she stood. I asked her to sit and she did.  She once again quietly complied as I asked her to lie down.  She is a calm, quiet, sweet soul.  I sat by her touching her so that she could become more familiar with me.  Casey was patient (and so am I – at least with dogs).  There is a distance with her that I sense.  I know very little of her background except that she belonged to a family for several years before becoming a “rescue.”  I suspect that there were folks who loved her whom she loved in return.  Whatever has happened she now founds herself in a variety of unfamiliar and uncertain circumstances.  She is cautious with her love now.  She is not sure just how she will respond to all the new people in her life who want to love her.  That she appreciates the affection and attention is obvious.  However, she is cautious.  It is hard to be cautious with love; caution in love is a difficult balancing act at best.  Peter urges us to “love one another deeply from the heart” then adds that our love should be constant and that “love covers a multitude of sins.”  Usually, this last statement is taken to mean that our love for others will cover a multitude of our sins, but I wonder if, perhaps, there might also be the thought that our love for others will help them to heal and recover from whatever sins they might have experienced.  Whichever or whatever, it is clear that LOVE is the key!  Right now, Casey is cautious.  From time to time we all find ourselves cautious.  We are challenged to LOVE DEEPLY!  Thanks for the reminder Casey; it is OKAY to be cautious.  We are all going to do our best to keep on loving. 

Blessings, peace, grace, prayers, & LOVE,      Link+

April 2010
 

CATS  AND  SQUIRRELS

(Bunny Lessons)

 

Bunny knows right from wrong.  She has been well trained to behave when out on a walk.  She knows how to "stay close" and "heel."  Most of the time she is reasonably well-behaved.  Bun walks along engaged in her usual pursuits with the best of intentions.  Then it happens!  When she spots a cat or a squirrel  ALL  bets are off!  Manners and best intentions are out the window.  She quickly converts to "four wheel drive" while giving chase to the offending creature.  At 90+ pounds and four paws (to my two) it is all I can do to hold her back.  To say the least,  she is easily distracted.  So, how about us?!?  How easily are we distracted from good behaviors and best of intentions?!?   Paul tells us to "fix our minds on whatever is true and honorable and just and pure and lovely and admirable." (Philippians 4:8)  and that we should "be concerned with the heavenly things, not with the passing things of earth."  (Colossians 3: 1 & 2)  How often are we lured away from "heavenly things"?  How many times during our walk with the Lord are we distracted from things that are true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, and admirable?  Just what are our  "cats" and "squirrels"?!?  You can be sure that the enemy knows our weaknesses.  You can be certain that as we travel our faith journey  the devil does indeed look for opportunities to  "devour" us (1 Peter 5: 8).  Our old enemy, Satan, is sending plenty of "cats" and "squirrels" to cross our paths.  Will we be distracted?  Will we be lured away?  Will we give chase in the wrong direction?  If we will keep our minds on "heavenly things" and draw near to God then He will draw near to us.  (James 4: 8)  God is calling us to ignore the "cats" and "squirrels" that cross our paths along life's faith journey and to "stay close" to Him.  The closer our walk with Jesus the better the journey.  We press forward in faith and love.  God is good! 

Blessings, peace, grace, & LOVE, Link

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CROWDED OUT!

(A Bunny Lesson)

“No servant can be the slave of two masters . . .”  Luke 16: 13

When I am home alone I sleep on the sofa.  When Bunny was a puppy she always slept on the sofa with me.  However, in the process of growing from a ten pound puppy to a one hundred pound adult somehow dear Bun did not grasp the fact that the sofa really was not big enough for the both us.  Somewhere in the night she would jump up on the sofa with me as we would both struggle to find some way to accommodate one another within the narrow confines of the couch.  Usually, she would give up at some point to stretch out nearby on the floor.  Just as Bunny did not understand how she had grown too large to share the sofa with me,  we often allow “stuff” in our lives to grow so large that it crowds out God.  These things might be money, possessions, people, issues, or “whatever.”  They might have begun as a blessing, but gradually grow out of all proportion until now the “stuff” has become the master.  The “whatever” is crowding out God.  We know that there really is NOT room for both.  We know that we cannot serve two masters.  Someone or something is going to have to get off the sofa of our lives if we are to find the peace with God for which we are searching.  What is crowding out God in our lives?  Our Heavenly Father reminds us of His rightful place as FIRST in our lives.  With Him FIRST all else will find its proper place.  Always in all ways GOD IS GOOD! 

Blessings, peace, grace, prayers, & LOVE,     Link+

March 2010
 

GRACE

(A Bunny Lesson)

"For by grace you have been saved . . . it is the gift of God . . ."
   Ephesians 2:8


"For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers,
 nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor
 depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us
 from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord."
        Romans 8:37-39


Bunny loved me even when I behaved badly.  Dogs are like that.  Even when I was grumpy, Bun would hang about to cheer me up.  If I growled too loudly for too long she might amble off a few paces, lie down, then heave a sigh while she watched me with those big brown eyes.  However, she would never leave me alone.  After a few minutes she would try again (and again . . .  and again) to engage me (whether or not I wanted to be engaged).  Dogs are like that. GOD is like that too! His grace is an ACTIVE grace!  He will NOT leave us alone. He is the Father who runs to meet us when we have strayed.  He is the Shepherd who searches for us.  He never gives up on us even when we give up on ourselves.


His grace seeks us out.  His love reaches out to us, surrounds us, and dwells within us.  Nothing can separate us from the love of God.  His active grace is at work in our lives even when we push Him away.  His active grace seeks to engage us even when we do not want to be engaged.  The GOOD NEWS in Christ is that this grace is God's FREE GIFT!  Yes, even when we behave badly.  Bunny showed me a little of what this love looks like on earth.  Can we even begin to imagine the heights and depths of this love eternal?  Can we even begin to understand the nature of this amazing grace?  Probably not, but we can try! 

 

Always in all ways GOD IS GOOD!  Blessings & LOVE,    Link


P.S.  This little piece is written the day before my ordination.  This morning as I think about God's free gift of grace and love as manifested in His call upon my life.  NOTHING I have ever done has brought me here, but God's free gift of grace and love have brought me.  NOTHING that I have ever done has brought me here, but God's active, persistent love reminds me that NOTHING will ever separate me from Him.  I give all praise, honor, thanks, and glory to GOD whose amazing grace and love has called me into His service and sustains me in same. 

Blessings &  LOVE,    leh

December 2009

 

Just Going Along for the Ride

A Bunny Lesson

"Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding."  

Proverbs 3:5



We just got back from a ride in the car.  Bun likes to ride in the car.  It does not matter where you are going or even if you go anywhere at all.  She just likes coming along for the ride.  I find that too often in my own faith journey I want to know all the details of the trip and destination before I am willing to even get in the car. God does NOT usually work that way.  My periences have been that our Heavenly Father is short on details and long on "trust in the Lord."  If we don't have faith enough to get in the car to enjoy the ride then we are not likely to discover the joys of the journey nor reach the destination that He has in mind for us.  If we must "understand" before we trust then there is little use for us in God's Kingdom and we will never know the works and blessings He has for us to do.  So, maybe we just need to get in the car and enjoy the ride.  God knows where the trip will take us; surely we can "trust in the Lord."  Like Bunny, we need to just go along for the ride.   Always in all ways,  GOD IS GOOD!


Blessings, peace, grace, &  LOVE,    Link

 

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November 2009
 

Do you know what time it is?!?

(A Bunny Lesson)

“But as for me, my prayer is unto thee, O Lord, in an acceptable time:   O God, in the multitude of thy mercy hear me, in the truth of thy salvation.”  Psalm 69:13

Sharon has been away from home for a few nights.  Some of you might recall that I get up at 4:00 in the morning.  Let me assure you that dear Bunny is NOT a “morning person.”  Waking up before sunrise is NOT on her “to do” list.  When I begin to move about at this pre-dawn hour she looks at me with those big brown labradoodle eyes asking (with some obvious measure of frustration and disgust) “Do you know what time it is?!?”  I do.  Often times we find ourselves asking the same question of our Heavenly Father.  In the middle of troubles and difficulties that seem to multiply, then drag on beyond frustration to the border of despair we ask the Lord “Do you know that time it is?!?”  Yes, He does!  In fact, He is working all things together for good.  He is with us always and His grace is sufficient.  He does, indeed, know what time it is and we can count on Him to see us through the “whatevers” of life in HIS time.  Yes, HIS time is often very different from ours, but we press FORWARD in faith and love knowing that always in all ways GOD IS GOOD!  GOD IS FAITHFUL!  So, we pray, “O Lord, in an acceptable time . . .  in the multitude of thy mercy hear me . . .” And He does!  Amen.  

Blessings, peace, grace, & LOVE,     Link

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OCTOBER 2009

 

AWESOME & OVERWHELMING

(A Bunny Lesson)
 
"When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus' knees and said, 'keep away from me, Lord, for I'm only a sinful man." 

Luke 5:8


Bunny and I were out early this morning (just after sunrise) in a small patch of dense woods and brush.  She was "off leash" and enjoying her freedom when we came to an area of open meadow just in time to see four deer prance away with leaps and bounds.  At first Bun ran after them with delight, tail wagging, then suddenly turned about to retreat from the scene.  The awesome spectacle of the deer at first attracted, but then overwhelmed her.  It is often the same with us.  For me it is especially true during worship on Sunday mornings.  The opportunity to worship our awesome God attracts me over and over again, but often in the midst of worship the reality crashes in upon me and I feel overwhelmed.  Like Peter I want to cry out  "keep away from me, Lord, for I'm only a sinful man."  When we truly come into His presence and worship Him in "spirit and truth" we can feel overwhelmed by His
infinite and omnipotent POWER.  We might be tempted to turn away, but He invites us to draw near, come close, worship and even to fellowship with Him.  He reminds us that His steadfast love endures forever (Lamentations 3:22) and that His mercy is everlasting (Psalm 100:5).

The beauty of the deer was, for a moment, overwhelming for Bunny but she will be out again soon seeking another encounter.  Like dear Bun, let's press forward in our worship beyond overwhelmed to surrounded and saturated by His grace, mercy, and LOVE!  Always in all ways GOD IS GOOD!

Blessings, peace, grace, &  LOVE,   Link

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SEPTEMBER 2009
 
Bunny and I just got back from the park.  While we roamed about under the shade trees we encountered a surprise.  Out of a nearby car hopped not one, but two, labradoodles.  Bun stood still to watch them cautiously, but she did not bark.  Somehow, someway, she recognized a certain bond.  Doodle to Doodle, she knew that there was a kinship with these distant cousins. 
 
Brothers and sisters in Christ, it is the same with us.  We might look different.  We might come from different backgrounds or cultures, but some how the Holy Spirit in us recognizes the Holy Spirit in one another.  Often it is easier for us to look beyond physical and cultural differences than it is for us to see through differences of mind, opinion, and theology. 
 
The reality is that for two thousand years Christians have often found themselves of different "minds" (even though Paul often calls us to be of  ONE mind - the mind of Christ).  For two thousand years Christians have often disagreed (on one topic or another) about just who and what Christ is calling us to be.  For two thousand years Christians have often been at odds over just what the "mind of Christ" might be (especially when applied to specific issues).  When we find ourselves, as the Body of Christ, divided in mind then we must struggle to look beyond the differences to what we share:  God's Holy Spirit in all us.  As Bunny recognized her "kin" Doodle t o Doodle, we must strive to recognize one another Spirit to Spirit.  We press FORWARD in faith and love.  Always in all ways GOD IS GOOD! 
 
Blessings, peace, grace, & LOVE,  Link

August 2009
 

RESTLESS!

(A Bunny Lesson)

“In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.” Proverbs  3:6

“. . .  seek ye first the kingdom of God . . .” Matthew  6:33

Bunny is restless.  It is HOT outside and she is bored.  None of her old routines seem to work right now.  Our days top out at 100+ and even sitting in the shade outdoors is unbearable (much less the long, frequent walks that she enjoys).  The heat has seriously disrupted her lifestyle.  She wants to go out then wants to come back in then wants to go out again.  She is restless.  She really does NOT know what she wants to do, but does know that she does not like what she is doing.  My goodness,  just how familiar does that sound?  Just how often do we find ourselves not sure what we want to do, but knowing that we are not happy with where we are and what we are doing at the present?  Just how often do we find ourselves restless?  Many times this restlessness that we feel can be found in our longing to be about our Father’s business.  Often, our restlessness might well be a symptom of our confused priorities.  We are restless because we are trying to fill our days with activities that do NOT fulfill or satisfy the call of God upon our lives.  We are restless because we are seeking direction in all the wrong places.  The Holy Bible tells us to “seek ye first the kingdom of God.”  When we truly seek His will, and His work, to His glory then He will bring meaningful direction.  He will give us ministry that will fulfill that restlessness within.  When we put God and His kingdom first and “in all (our) ways acknowledge Him” then “He shall direct (our) paths.”  If we are “restless” then we should not follow Bun’s example.  Instead, we should make seeking His kingdom our priority so that He can direct our paths.  Always in all ways,  GOD IS GOOD! 

Blessings, peace, grace, &  LOVE,      Link

 

July 2009
 

HABITS, ROUTINES, &  RENEWAL

But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth . . .     John 4:23

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.  . . .  You shall love your neighbor as yourself.     Mark 12:30 & 31

Labradoodles love routine.  Bunny is no exception.  Dear Bun likes for her day to be orderly and for the family routine to be followed according to her clockwork precision.  She has good habits and lives with the expectation that others will follow her example (and if they do not then she is quick to remind them of the importance of order, routine, and good habits).  Recently, Bunny made a small change in her routine.  Every evening for the past few years, Bun has gone to bed between 8:00 and 9:00 o’clock in the evening.  She goes back to her room for her peanut butter sandwich (with meds), we turn on the air purifier (white noise), and she, until recently, would go to sleep.  Now, she wants all the steps to be closely followed with the exception of her going to sleep.  Sandwich?  Check!  Air purifier on?  Check!  Sleep?  No, now she wants to come back into the living room and hang out until we all go to bed.  We have the routine in place, but Bunny has forgotten that the original INTENT of the routine was for her to go to SLEEP! 

So, it is with us.  Often we become so engaged with our habits and routines that we forget the original intent.  Sometimes, as with those scribes and Pharisees, we are so focused upon our customs, routines, and habits that we lose sight of the WHY.  The point of our coming together on Sunday mornings is to WORSHIP God in spirit and truth.  The point of our worship is to LOVE GOD and to LOVE OUR NEIGHBORS.  Let us shift our focus from WHAT we are doing back to the WHY we are doing it.  Let us RENEW our old habits and routines with a fresh remembering of our INTENT!  Let us RENEW our commitment to worship God in spirit and truth as we love God and love our neighbors.  We press  FORWARD in faith and love; GOD IS GOOD! 

Blessings, peace, grace, & LOVE,  Link

May 2009
 

BURRS & OBEDIENCE

(A Bunny Lesson)

“For the love of God is this, that we obey His commandments.”                                          1 John 5: 3

Bunny loves me and she loves to obey me.  Well . . .  she loves to obey me when it is convenient and/or when it is obviously in her best interest to do so.  Sit?  No problem (IF I am holding a treat in front of her nose).  Heel?  No worries (IF there are no squirrels, cats, or other distractions about).  Come?  Happy to (as long as there are no better offers).  Before her hip difficulties became so painful, Bun used to love the agility course.  She would do even difficult challenges so long as the expectation of praise and a treat were waiting at the end of the exercise.  Without a doubt, Bunny’s commitment to obedience is directly tied to rewards and convenience.  How about us?  Do we obey God only when we can see the obvious reward?  Is our obedience reliant upon a lack of distractions or, perhaps, no better choices at the time?  How obedient are we when we do NOT understand where faith and trust might take us?  Do we obey when we see only pain, frustration, and difficulties?  Can we deny ourselves and follow even when we cannot see where we are going and have what appear to be better choices than the one God puts before us?  John writes “For the love of God is this, that we obey His commandments.”  John equates love with obedience.  Clearly John is telling us that IF we love God then we will obey His commandments; making the obverse equally true that if we do not obey His commandments then we do not really love God.  It is hard for Bunny to lie still while I pick burrs out of her coat.  Some of those burrs are very deeply imbedded and difficult to extract (especially the ones that get between her toes).  However, it is for her own good.  If I am to get the burrs out then she must obey; she must lie still.  In our lives, the burrs of sin and bad habits become deeply entangled in the fabric of our being.  While we might not always understand just what God is up to we must OBEY if God is to pick the burrs out so that we can press FORWARD in faith and love!  Always in all ways, GOD IS GOOD!   

                    Blessings, peace, grace, & LOVE,                       Link

 

Did you Say Follow?!?

(Bunny Lessons)

“If anyone wants to follow in my footsteps, he must give up all right to himself, carry his cross every day and keep close behind me.”  Luke 9:23

 

Bunny is not very good at following!  She likes to be out front (usually just about as far as the leash will allow).  She is all over the place sniffing, looking, pulling, leading, and generally making sure that she gets her way most of the time.  Following is certainly not one of her virtues.  One of the commands that she is supposed to obey is  “stay close” but . . .  well,  Bun will be Bun.  Jesus tells us that we are to follow in His footsteps and keep close behind Him.  However, often we prefer to be out front dragging Jesus along behind.  We rather like to depend on the promise that all things will work together for good; that is, we think we can just plunge ahead, push forward, and sniff our way into all sorts of messes and distresses then depend upon Him to work it all together for good.  In fact, of course, He will but it is so very much easier if we will follow and stay close.  God will help me to work through my various disasters, but many of these messy situations could have been avoided if I had only followed in his footsteps rather than drug Him into my chaos.  The catch is those few words in the middle of Luke 9:23 “he must give up all right to himself.”  There it is!  If we want to follow, if we want to stay close, then we must give up all right to ourselves.  The key to putting Him first in our lives is to give up all right ourselves.  The key to holiness is less me and more Him.  As long as we continue to drag Jesus along behind us we will never get it right.  We cannot follow so long as we pursue our own interests,  our own goals,  even our own happiness for if we want to follow Him then we must stay close behind Him, carry our cross, and deny ourselves.  Nobody ever said it was going to be easy, but it is very, very simple!  Like dear Bun, we might imagine that our happiness lies in rushing ahead to sniff out new adventures, but our Heavenly Father calls out the gentle, persistent, urgent command “stay close.”  He is faithful!  Always in all ways GOD IS GOOD! 

~Blessings, peace, grace, & LOVE, Link

April 2009
 
 

SHAKE,  RATTLE,  &  ROLL

“So if your hand makes you turn away . . .”  Mark 9:43

Bunny Lessons

Bunny is a “sensitive” dog.  She has a “sensitive” stomach (and eats top of the line vegetarian food mixed with chicken broth and, yes, she does has a preferred brand of chicken broth).  She has sensitive skin (and breaks out in a rash from a variety of weeds and pollens).  Dear Bun is a sensitive dog.  The spring allergy season is already upon us.  Yellow pollen forms a coat upon cars, lawns, and anything left out of doors.  Fresh green wild grasses and a multitude of weeds are springing up everywhere.  Now, if one were NOT a labradoodle then one would think that staying OUT of the strange grasses, weeds, and yellow pollen just might be a good idea.  However, labradoodle logic dictates that one’s nose must be thrust into the very depths of every weed patch (clover being a favorite) and, of course, one must roll and wallow at every possible opportunity.  After a particularly good roll in the grass, Bunny will shake herself vigorously (we call this shake, rattle, and roll).  While she does manage to rid herself of some grass particles, much of the debris and pollen remain tangled in her coat (some times her blonde fur is more of yellow-green in hue).  Yesterday,  Bun was “off leash” on a long walk when I looked around to find her off in high grass wallowing about on her back while looking at me with those big brown eyes to say “sorry, it’s a dog thing.”  No doubt about it; we will see more skin rashes in the near future.  So, why doesn’t she just stay AWAY from all of these things?!?  Well, I suspect there’s a little (or a lot) of the old “doodle” in all of us!  Why don’t we stay away from things that are NOT good for us?  Why do we eat that?  Watch that?  Go there?  Drink that?  Read that?  When we KNOW that it is NOT good for us?!?  Over and over again we find ourselves in places we don’t belong doing things we know we shouldn’t.  Much of the time our distress could have been AVOIDED by simply staying AWAY from the things/places that are the source of our difficulty.  Jesus warns us of such matters; let’s trying thinking (and praying) BEFORE we sniff and roll!  GOD IS GOOD! 

 Blessings, peace, grace, &  LOVE,    Link

March 2009

 

RIGHT NOW!

(BUNNY LESSONS)

“If any man will come after me, let him deny himself . . .” Matthew 16:24

“… seek ye first the kingdom of God…”  Matthew 6:33

“Dogoligists” (yes, I just made that word up) tell us that dogs have NO sense of time.  That is, dogs live ONLY in the present moment.  They have NO concept of waiting and NO understanding of the passage of time.  For dogs everything is RIGHT NOW!  Bunny is not able to practice “delayed gratification.”  Whatever she wants, she wants IMMEDIATELY!  When she is hungry, she wants to eat right now. When she is bored, she wants to play right now.  When she is restless, she wants to walk right now.  Bunny lives in the “right now” time zone (and let me assure you that it is difficult to ignore the “right now” timing of a one hundred pound labradoodle).  Bunny can only be told “NO” from an outside force, a higher authority (in our home that’s Sharon); she has ZERO ability to tell herself “NO.”  However, Jesus calls us to “DENY OURSELVES.”  Jesus calls us to seek first the Kingdom of God and to keep on seeking, keep on asking, and keep on knocking.  There is an obvious implication here of a “process” that takes place over time; a process that requires us to press FORWARD in faith and love.  It is a process that requires us to “delay gratification.”  It is not going to be fun “right now.”  It is not going to feel good “right now.”  It is not going to happen in an instant “right now.” In fact, the only thing that we need to do “right now” is to “DENY OURSELVES” and seek the Kingdom of God FIRST!  The more we practice denying ourselves the more we learn about His kingdom; the LESS me the more others will see HIM in my life.  We have a very real choice to make.  We can take our “cue” from Bunny to live always in the “right now” or we can follow the teachings of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who calls us to a very different life of self-denial and seeking the “delayed gratification” that comes in long-term love and service to GOD!  So, when and where do we begin?!?  For sure,  Bunny knows the answer to that question:  RIGHT NOW! 

~ Blessings, peace, grace, &  LOVE,  Link Edit Text

February 2009
 

BIG PAW

(Bunny Lessons)

“Therefore we must pay greater attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it.”  Hebrews 2:1

Bunny (our 100 pound labradoodle) has big, powerful paws.  The other night I was trying to talk with Sharon when dear Bun decided she was being neglected.  She made a few restless noises then “whop!” – She swatted me with a big paw to let me know I was supposed to pay attention and RIGHT NOW!  A few days ago I was reading in William Barclay’s commentary on Hebrews.  He points out that for most of us the real danger is NOT a decision to commit some major sin NOR some point where we decide to turn away from God.  Instead, the real danger comes from the slow, imperceptible, gradual DRIFT away from that straight and narrow path.  We lose our focus.  We drift.  Little by little, day by day, we let our eyes, our hearts, and minds stray from the Lord and His Kingdom.  We forget to remember the promises He has made and faithfully kept:  the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases (Lamentations 3:22); do not fear , for I am with you (Isaiah 41:40); that He is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble (Psalm 46:1); that the Lord is merciful and gracious (Psalm 103:8); that He is good, His mercy is everlasting (Psalm 100:5); He is with us ALWAYS (Matthew 28:20); He will never leave us nor abandon us (Hebrews 13:5); that with God nothing shall be impossible (Luke 1:37); and that always His grace is sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9).  Slowly, gradually, little by little, day by day, we lose our focus and drift.  Holy God, Heavenly Father, we need that “whop!” with a “big paw.”  Please, get our attention RIGHT NOW!  Help us, dear God, to remember WHO you are!  Help us, in our circumstances, to remember your promises.  Next time we find ourselves in that easy, slow current of drift let’s remember Bunny and that big paw; we can give ourselves (or one another) a mental and spiritual “whop!” to focus our attention back upon the one who matters.  We press FORWARD in faith and love.  Always in all ways GOD IS GOOD! 

Blessings, peace, grace, & LOVE,            Link

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LET’S  PLAY!

A Bunny Lesson

“Make a joyful noise unto God, all ye lands.”  Ps. 66:1

“Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands.”  Ps. 100:1

“Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice.” Phil. 4:4

 

Bunny knows how to make a joyful noise!  Recently she has discovered the joys of the backyard.  She will stampede out the door at a gallop then race around the yard in a cloud of dust barking with enthusiasm.  (You can be sure that a hundred pound labradoodle can make her joy known throughout the neighborhood.)  There are times when I simply do NOT feel like rejoicing; joy is not upper most in my mind at the end of some long days.  However, when my long day is winding down, Bun’s is just beginning.  My arrival at home (no matter the wear and tear upon me) is her signal to let the FUN begin!  She wants to play in the backyard with her tug-of-war rope and/or romp with “Hedgy” (her stuffed hedgehog).  Most of all,  she wants to walk,  and walk,  and walk!  While I might feel worn out and used up she will have none of it.  “Let’s play!”  She teaches me the truth of God’s Holy Word!  Get up, get out, get going -  rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, rejoice!  “Let’s play!”  Come on – make a joyful noise unto the Lord!  Over and over again in the Bible we find verses such as these; verses  that remind us that we are to have fun,  we are to rejoice,  we are to make a joyful noise!  Bunny is one of God’s reminders to me that I need to lighten up and ENJOY!  When her tail is wagging,  her eyes are bright, and her tongue is hanging from her open mouth she says “come on – let’s play.”  No matter our circumstances (they are temporary) God calls us to rejoice and make a joyful noise.  Bunny absolutely insist upon it and will not take no for an answer; it’s the labradoodle way of life (and not bad for the rest of us Christians either).  Let’s play!  

Blessings, peace, grace, &  LOVE!  ~ Link

JANUARY 2009
 
TRUST

If you are reading this then you probably know that I have written several pieces over the past year regarding spiritual "truths" that I have learned from dear Bun (our one year old "labradoodle"). I have written especially about "LOVE." The manner in which our dogs love us is so amazing that we can not help but be touched by the depth of the LOVE they share with us. Related to that amazing love is their TRUST.

Most of you know that in recent weeks Bunny has experienced significant health "challenges" and that she faces one or more major surgeries in the weeks ahead. Doctors (and priests) have touched her, poked her with needles, and otherwise inconvenienced, examined, and inflicted various levels of discomfort (and pain) upon her all "for her own good." Obviously, she does not understand, but when I hold her head in my lap and talk her through another visit with another doctor she knows that I am there with her and that I am there for her. When she is struggling with her pain we can sit beside her, hold her and stroke her. She does not understand the pain, but she knows that she is loved. She is comforted and strengthened by our presence, our support, and our love for her.

 No doubt, you are already way ahead of me. You already have the "point" before I make it. If we could only learn to turn it all over to the LORD the way a dog can give it up to us then we would truly be strengthened and comforted by our Heavenly Father. He loves us. He cares for us. He wants to strengthen and comfort us, but, more often than not, we hold back. We can not extend the TRUST that allows us to "throw all (our) worries on him, for he cares for (us)." (1 Peter 5:7) He created and sustains the universe, but we struggle to trust Him with our lives and cares. Bunny lets us hold her close. She listens to my voice and draws comfort and strength from my embrace. GOD is waiting to do the same for each of us. He says, "So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." (Isaiah 41:10) He will hold us all in the arms of His wonderful love. He will see us through the storms and the lulls, through the sunshine and the rain, through the beautiful days and the dark nights, and all that lies in between. We press forward in faith and love. Indeed, always in all ways, GOD IS GOOD!

Peace, grace, blessings & love, Link

 

CATS & SQUIRRELS REVISITED

. . . This is what you should decide: not to do anything that would make your brother stumble, or fall into sin.” Romans 14: 13

I have a purple eye courtesy of a certain one hundred pound labradoodle. She didn’t mean to do it; it was just one of those things. We were out for walk, almost back to our front door, when suddenly Bunny took off in rapid pursuit of some nemesis (most likely one of those pesky cats or squirrels who populate the neighborhood). Before I knew it, I was in a dazed heap upon the ground, having met with a board fence face first. It hurt, I was stunned, and she was oh, so very sorry.

I have written before about cats and squirrels. Often we let unexpected events or circumstances distract us from our walk with God (just as Bunny let’s these pests distract her from enjoying a peaceful outing in the neighborhood). Another consideration for us, as Christian brothers and sisters, is how OUR distractions impact those around us. We are NOT walking alone, but in the company of fellow Christians. We travel along together, all at different stages and phases in our journey.

Paul writes to the Romans about some who eat certain foods and others who do not. He writes about those who observe certain special days and others who do not. A central point of his message is that NO matter what our personal beliefs might be, we do NOT have the freedom to lead another astray. We do NOT have the freedom to do “anything that would make (our) brother stumble, or fall into sin.” Yes, even if we are “right.” Yes, even if it is “okay.” Paul reminds us that if our actions (or “distractions”) lead another into sin or cause another to stumble then we need to follow the path that will HELP our brother or sister continue and press forward in their Christian walk. No matter how good the idea might seem at the time. No matter how good our intentions. We have a responsibility to make certain that we are a “stepping stone” (and NOT a “stumbling block”) for those who walk with us on this Christian journey.

Just ask Bunny, or take a look at my purple eye, our distractions can (and do) hurt others! We press forward in faith and love. Always in all ways GOD IS GOOD!

Blessings, peace, grace, & LOVE, Link

DECEMBER 2008
 

A  MERRY  “BUNNY”  CHRISTMAS TO YOU!

 

Bunny gets confused about Christmas.  There’s lots of people and noise. Her living room is rearranged to accommodate a variety of decorations.  Then there are all the packages, wrapping paper, and activity surrounding the exchanging of gifts.  When we go for a walk through the neighborhood there are strange objects with a variety of lights blinking, twinkling, and flashing.  All in all, the Christmas season appears rather chaotic and confusing to a hundred pound labradoodle.  Well, honestly, it does to me too!  Shifting gears between “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” and “O Little Town of Bethlehem” can add an element of stress to the holiday season that leaves me dazed along the side of the festive road.  More and more as the years go by I find myself focusing less on the “holiday” and more on the Holy Day.  The more I focus on the Incarnation, the birth of Jesus, and the Holy Family, the less I am confused and stressed by all the chaos and uncertainty that whirls about me at this festive time of the year.  I’ve got nothing against Santa Claus; in fact, I welcome the jolly old elf and Rudolph, too.  However, when we remind ourselves of the “reason for the season” all the glitz and glitter of the secular Christmas pales by comparison in the light of the star over Bethlehem shining down upon the Holy Infant in the manger.  “Frosty the Snowman” is a great holiday classic, but it pales by comparison with “Away in a Manger.”  When Bun and I get confused about Christmas we’ll just focus a little more clearly on that star,  that manger,  and that most holy of  babies!  Wishing you all love, joy, & peace! 

 

                                                           Link

 

 
 

November, 2008

“O God, you are my God, I seek you, my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.”  Psalm 63:1

(Bunny Lessons)

Bunny, our one hundred pound labradoodle, has a best friend.  Gail, Bun’s dear friend, lives around the corner and a few houses down the next street.  Since she was a puppy she has visited her friend regularly (sometimes two or three times in a day).  In the evenings, when Gail is home from work, Bunny insists on going out, but she really does not want to walk; she just wants to go to visit her friend.  She will pace back and forth on the sidewalk in front of Gail’s house just hoping for time with her best buddy.  If Gail’s work schedule keeps her away for more than a day or two,  Bun will literally lie down in Gail’s front yard to cry in despair at her absence.  Truly, her soul thirsts for that relationship with her precious friend.  That is what Psalm 63 is all about.  How about us?  Does our soul really thirst for God?  Do we truly seek Him as we would water in a dry and weary land?  If we went more than a day or two without contact with Him would we lie in His front yard to cry in despair?  Some of us might be nodding our heads in the affirmative, but now let’s consider just a little more carefully.  If our souls “thirst” for God then why do we find it so easy to miss church on Sunday mornings?  Do our daily devotional habits reflect this “thirst” or our Bible Study routine or our prayer life?  Just how thirsty are we?  Verse 3 of Psalm 63 goes on to say “Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you.”  No matter our attention to God we should know that His love for us is steadfast.  God is faithful.  His love is true even when we are not.  Even when we seek other means to satisfy our thirst, He gently reminds us that His “steadfast love is better than life.”  When we recognize the love that God has for us we will indeed seek Him just as Bunny seeks out the companionship of her friend.  We will look for Him in prayer, devotions, and Bible study.  We will worship Him on Sunday mornings.  We will thirst for time with Him as Bunny longs for visits with her best friend, Gail.  He calls to us from His steadfast love.  Let us answer as the psalmist “O God, you are my God, I seek you.”  Blessings, peace, grace, love,  &  Happy Trails!   

                                                                                   ~Link

 

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