Cat or Dog?

 

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. – Proverbs 9:10 (NIV)

A newspaper ad left me chuckling: “Free to good home: Litter-trained kittens.” I understood the intent – whoever wanted a kitten wouldn’t have to worry about training it to use the litter box. But anyone with experience knows you can’t train a cat. A cat does what it darn well pleases.

Jonesy, my daughter’s cat, has slowed down with age but still loves to curl up someplace soft, warm, and cozy. (Photo by Dean Huey)

Case in point: A number of years ago, my daughter obtained two kittens from the local humane society. To keep the felines off the countertops and tables, she kept squirt guns around the house and would shoot the cats with a jet of water when they trespassed on forbidden territory. It didn’t work. As for “litter training,” all I did with my kittens was plop them in the litter box once or twice. They instinctively knew what to do (except Rascal).

We’ve had a cat in our home for more than 25 years, and I’ve yet to “train” one in the way I wanted it to go. Rather, it seemed the cat trained me. When he wanted out, he’d go to the door and meow. When he wanted back in, he’d peer in one of the windows, and, if I didn’t come right away, tap on the glass with his claws.

Don’t let that sweet face fool you. Tucker, my youngest son’s puppy, is the most hyperactive dog I have ever seen. (Photo by David Huey)

Our dog, on the other hand, was an entirely different story. It takes time and patience to train a canine, but eventually you can command it to roll over, give you a paw, fetch a ball, heel, come, and stay. The dog learns who the master is – the person who takes care of its needs and is to be obeyed. You can take care of a cat’s needs all you want, but it will never accept you as “master.” Sometimes I think it’s the other way around. But a dog, once you’ve established the relationship, will be devoted, loyal, and faithful to his master, even mourning the master’s death.

When it comes to us, we humans have a problem with the word “master.” We’re like cats – we’d rather master than be mastered. We want our independence to be who we want to be and do what we want to do. We want to be masters of our own destiny.

Such a creed may be lofty, idealistic, inspirational, and motivational, but it isn’t biblical. And the Bible is our guidebook for living, our “manufacturer’s handbook.” Embedded in the pages of Scripture are ten simple rules that govern our relationships, first with God, then with others.

The very first commandment establishes the primary relationship and sets the foundation for the other nine: God tell us who He is and what He’s done for us:

“I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:2-3).

Who is God? He is LORD. The word “LORD” (all capital letters) is translated from the Hebrew word Yahweh (YHWH), which means the self-existent or Eternal One, the One who exists because of who He is. The word “Lord” (Hebrew Adonai), when used for God, means “master or owner of all things.

Each of us must find out for ourselves the identity of our master.

Look around. Read the headlines. Listen to and watch the news. It’s like the familiar adage, too many cooks spoil the soup. Too many masters spoil the world, society as a whole. No wonder we have problems with the other nine commandments: We don’t have God in His rightful place.

There can be only one master. Either it’s self or God. Which one created the universe? Which one is omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, all-wise, eternal, faithful, good, merciful, just, and holy? Which one takes care of our needs and, hence, is to be obeyed? Which one suffered a horrific death to break the bonds of our slavery to sin and open the way to our Promised Land – Heaven? Isn’t that the Master we should heed?

How about you: Are you a cat or a dog?

“Let him who boasts, boast about this: that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight, declares the LORD” (Jeremiah 9:24).

Dear God, when I am tempted to put myself on the throne instead of You, remind me of Who You are – Elohim, Yahweh, Adonai – and of what I am and how foolish that would be. Amen.

Read and meditate on Psalm 119:17-22Exodus 20:1-17

2nd in the 10 Commandment series

My cats, Rascal (front) and Provie (short for “Providence”), like to huddle near the woodburner on a cold, winter day. (Photo by Dean Huey)

(c) 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.

Finding My Way

6871-magnetic-compass

 

Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me. – Psalm 119:133 (NIV)

When I was about 10 or 11 years old, my sister and I decided to take a walk in the woods surrounding our family cabin in the western Pennsylvania mountains. We walked, all right, and walked and walked and walked – because we couldn’t find our way back to the cabin!

We must have been wandering around in circles, because I remember walking through the same meadow about three times. Finally, after what seemed like hours, we saw the outline of a building through the trees. At last! Camp! As we got closer, however, we realized that it wasn’t our cabin at all nor any of the three cabins near ours, but a rustic log building we hadn’t seen before. Where were we?

A boy about my age was chopping wood in the backyard. As we approached, he turned to leave, apparently not hearing us.

“Stop! Stop!” we cried, breaking into a run, hopping over fallen limbs and pushing through waist-high grass. “We’re lost! Stop!”

It turned out that we had wandered in the opposite direction of our cabin. Neither my sister nor I even knew what direction camp was. We just followed the way through the woods that was easiest and seemed to lead us in the direction we wanted to go. We didn’t have a compass, but it wouldn’t have done us much good because neither one of us knew how to use one.

A compass helps the traveler because its needle always points north. But before you can make use of a compass, you need to know three things: where you want to go, where you are now and what direction – north, south, east or west – to travel. Once you know that, you can set out, using the compass to keep on course.

As we travel through life, we need a compass to guide us. There are many paths we can take, some seeming to lead us in the way we want to go but, in reality, will take us in the opposite direction. God knew we needed help, so He gave us His Word. He began by writing, with His own hand, 10 simple laws that, if we follow them, will lead us to a fulfilling, satisfying life.

cross-13436635390nuThe Ten Commandments. Like a cross, with a vertical beam and a horizontal one, these ten rules govern all our relationships. The first four deal with our relationship with God (the vertical beam); the last six with our relationships with others (the horizontal beam).

The Ten Commandments. The subject of Hollywood movies and lawsuits. Why have they become so controversial? And how do laws established 3,450 years ago relate to us today?

Over the next ten weeks, I’m going to delve into each commandment – one per week – study it, meditate on it and explore its relevance to today’s world – and, more importantly, to me personally. I invite you to come along with me, and let the Holy Spirit be our teacher.

As we study the Decalogue, as the Ten Commandments are sometimes called, you’ll notice the suggested readings will be from Psalm 119, a psalm written as a devotional on God’s Word.

Like a compass, God’s Word points us in the direction we are to go. But we first need to find out where we are: on the narrow path that leads to life or the broad way that leads to eternal death (Matthew 7:13–14). Only then can we set our course for true north: God Himself.

“Blessed are they whose way is blameless, who walk according to the law of the LORD. Blessed are they who keep his statutes and seek him with all their heart.” – Psalm 119:1 (NIV)

Come, Holy Spirit, be my teacher and  guide as I make my way through a cluttered, loud world where there is so much to lure me away from the only path that leads to everlasting life with You. Give me wisdom to understand Your Word, the faith to believe it, and the courage to obey it. Amen.

10-commandments

Read and meditate on Psalm 119:1–16Exodus 20:1–17

(c) 2005 Michele Huey. All rights reserved. All images in public domain.