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.

When JOY Jumps Out at You

Come, let us sing with joy to the LORD. – Psalm 95:1 (NIV)

It was the funniest thing.

Not funny in a humorous way. Not really odd or strange, either. But, in hindsight, appropriate.

Through the final month of 2015, one word kept jumping out at me: “joy.”

Now, Christmas is everywhere in December, and joy is a part of the season. So why did it seem as though that one word was trying to tell me something?

At first I didn’t think anything of it. But when this occurred time and time and time again, in different scenarios, I began to take notice.

The year’s challenges had crescendoed into a drumroll, and joy for me was anything but thriving. Normally when someone asks me how I am, I answer, with a hearty smile, “Great!’ or “Good!” (notice the exclamation points).

But in recent months the best answer I could come up with (without lying) was an anemic “okay.” With a pitiful shrug.

What had happened to my joy?

It was getting snuffed out by the stuff of life – and I was letting it happen.

So when “joy” jumped out at me repeatedly during December, I sensed God was trying to tell me something:

523871_10151027007869596_1458298130_n“Choose joy.”

While I’d thought I was dealing with the stuff of life, I was really allowing it to bury me. I wasn’t choosing joy. I was choosing distress, anxiety, fear, despair.

Joy is a choice.

A wise king once wrote, “However many years a man may live, let him enjoy them all” (Ecclesiastes 11:8). “Enjoy” is a verb. Active, not passive. A verb is something you do, an action.

The writer of Ecclesiastes is telling us to choose joy in all seasons of life. In the good years and the not-so-good years.

How is joy even possible when life is beating you up? How can you smile when your insides are crying?

I saw a poster just this morning that answers that question. It read, “The reason behind my smile is God.”

Choosing joy means embracing all that life encompasses, knowing that “the God on the mountain is still God in the valley. The God of the good times is still God in the bad times. The God of the day is still God in the night” (from “God on the Mountain” by Tracy Dartt).

Choosing joy means choosing to “let your hope keep you joyful, be patient in trouble, and pray at all times” (Romans 12:12).

Choosing joy means choosing to believe God will work things out: “Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God” (Psalm 42:5).

When it came time to select the one word I’ll focus on in 2016, I didn’t have to choose. It had already chosen me: joy.

Thank you, Lord, for opening my eyes to joy. Amen.

Extra tea: Read and meditate on Psalm 95

 GMPM1 bookcover frontNOTE TO READERSIT’S ALMOST HERE!

Keep watching for the release of Getaway Mountain, Book 1 in the PennWoods Mystery series. I’m getting the book ready for print and look for it to be released soon. It will be available on Amazon in Kindle format ($2.99) and in print ($14.99). You may also order personally autographed copies from me. Use the contact form below. Order today and save shipping costs. No shipping costs on paid pre-orders (orders before the book is officially released).

What’s it about?

Reclusive romance novelist Melody Harmon, her career on the skids, flees to her writing retreat in the Pennsylvania mountains rather than team up with Don Bridges, an ex-cop turned suspense writer. When she discovers caches of cash—to the tune of a million dollars—she assumes it’s her late husband’s gambling winnings. Then dead bodies start popping up. Don wants to help her solve the mystery, but she doesn’t know if she should trust him. Can Melody overcome the pain of betrayal and learn to trust before the killer strikes again?