LESSONS LEARNED FROM A BULLDOG

Buster with Birds art“…ask the beasts, and they will teach you:
And the birds of the air, and they will tell you…” (Job 12:7)
“The works of the Lord are great, studied by all who have pleasure in them”
(Psa. 111:2)
Through God’s creation we can be taught. We miss out on much that God has clearly put on display for our benefit through the works of His hand—exhibiting His eternal power & Godhead (Rom. 1:19-20). Just look at 4 things that are little on earth but exceedingly wise: the ant, the rock badger, the locust and the spider (Prov. 30:24-28). The ant is used again as an illustration of being industrious instead of being a sluggard (Prov. 6:6-8). Who better to illustrate the lessons we can learn from God’s creation than from the Creator Himself (John 1:1-3, Colossians 1:15-17)? When Jesus graced the earth he incorporated many visual examples of creation to teach spiritual truths such as: studying the birds of the air and the lilies of the field to demonstrate the ineffectiveness of worry (Matt. 6:25-31); sheep and things related to them to demonstrate that He’s the good Shepherd and what that means (John 10:1-17); and the grape vine to illustrate the benefits of dependence on Him versus self-sufficiency (John 15:1-8).
A personal illustration of this is through our beloved old ( 13+ year) English bulldog, Buster, who recently passed away. One of the first lessons of owning a bulldog is to have patience. They aren’t like other dogs. After previously owning a Labrador retriever we weren’t quite sure of what we had on our hands after bringing Buster home. When we took him outside he would just sit on the sidewalk for a while before he decided to ‘take care of his business’. The same applied for taking him on a walk or when my husband took him to the lumber yard where he works. It was clear he wanted to go as he’d slowly make his way to the door but he wasn’t in any hurry. It seemed like much of the time I was and so this also gave me pause as to why? I learned to allow for “Buster time” and started to understand better the patience (and long suffering) of the Lord with me and mankind in general (Ps. 86:15, 2 Pet. 3:9). Buster also gave us, as well as others who knew him, joy just by his presence—his lovable frumpy face, his unusual snorts & the other funny noises he’d make. It was no surprise that he was coined the ‘morale booster’ at my husband’s work place and the request was often made by many of Buster’s (aka Mr. B’s) lady friends there to bring him in on a regular basis. In God’s design for our fallen world there is a season & time to every purpose and work under heaven—even a time to laugh & weep (Eccl. 3:1, 7, 4). Life is but a vapor—death is a reminder of the temporalness of life in this world and the truth to keep our sight on ‘things above’ & meditate on the good, true, noble, just, pure, lovely, virtuous, praiseworthy & things that bring a good report—rejoicing in the Lord always, being content no matter the state of our circumstances good or bad as it’s Christ whose grace is sufficient—whose strength is enough & whose provisions supply all our needs (James 4:14; Col. 3:1-3, Phil. 4:8, 4, 11-13, 19; 2 Cor. 12:9). Take some time this spring to examine some of the Lord’s great handiwork & the life lessons they reveal.
“O Lord, You are my God; I will exalt You; I will praise Your name, for You have done wonderful things, plans formed of old faithful and sure” (Isa. 25:1).

The Lord speaking, “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it” (Isa. 55:10-11).

Laura

buster on lumber pile

Seeking Treasure?

Treasures of the Deep
Treasures of the Deep by Laura Kestly

O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom & knowledge of God! –Romans 11:33—

One would be foolish to stay in the shallows–Deep calls unto deep.

I recently went to opening day at a large flea market in our area with one of my sons. The excitement of finding something unique, fun or valuable is something we both love.  It’s not always easy as the best ‘finds’ usually require some searching and digging.

We live in very superficial times (concerned only with what is obvious or apparent: not thorough or complete)—from believing “fake” and “really, really fake” news to having Facebook ‘friends’ that we often only know on the surface. Much like fool’s gold—at a quick glance it looks like real gold due to its metallic luster & pale brass-yellow hue but on closer examination it’s only pyrite, an iron sulfide.

The artist Georgia O’Keeffe, known for her paintings of enlarged flowers said this, “Nobody sees a flower really; it is so small. We haven’t time, and to see takes time-like to have a friend takes time.”

Today’s society has little patience or desire to really listen, observe & ponder things beyond the exterior. Our Creator, God has made it apparent to those who’ll look & think past the surface regarding His invisible nature, eternal power & deity through the things that He’s made that are visible in His creation (if we’d only notice) (Rom. 1:19-20; Ps. 19).  It’s only the fool that says in his/her heart, “There is no God” (Ps. 14:1). This same fool wouldn’t say of their ‘smart’ phone (comprised of software, hardware, an ability to work with a cellular network, apps & other ’bells & whistles’) that behind it wasn’t a purposeful engineer, designer, maker or inventor, but rather ‘It just happened’.  So then what should a person be called who is surrounded with much more evidence in the natural world like the sun, moon and stars to the intricacy of a beautiful flower or even the complex systems of cellular, mechanical, physical, bio-electrical & biochemical components that allow their own body to function?—perhaps a really, really fool indeed.

               But this is exactly what has happened, “they became futile in their thinking and their senseless minds were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of immortal God for images resembling mortal man or birds, animals or reptiles…they exchanged the truth about God for a lie (really, really fake news) and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator.” The consequences of their choices led them down a dark path that leads to death (Romans 1:21-32; 2 Thess. 2:9-12).  “But the folly of fools is deceit, fools mock at sin” (Prov. 14:9) so it’s no wonder that a fool also mocks at the “sacrifice” for sin, the Savior Jesus Christ, in Whom, ironically are hid all treasures of wisdom & knowledge (Col. 2:3). 

               God’s works are great & His thoughts very deep and yet He has revealed them to us though His Spirit, giving those who believe access to knowing the things that are freely given by God. The natural man doesn’t receive the things of the Spirit of God for they are foolishness to him; neither can he know them because they’re spiritually discerned (Ps. 92:5; Isa. 64:4; 1 Cor. 2:9-16).  For whoever draws near to God must believe He exists & that He rewards those who diligently seek Him (Heb. 11:6).

For those seeking genuine treasure that can’t be destroyed or stolen (Matt. 6:19-21), Follow this Treasure Map:

  • – – –START @ Proverb coordinate: 2:2-6 & LISTEN: Be attentive to wisdom—INCLINE your heart to discernment—CALL out for insight—RAISE your voice for understanding—If you SEEK it like silver & SEARCH for it as hidden treasures, then you’ll understand the fear of the Lord & FIND the knowledge of God (for the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth comes knowledge & understanding).
  • – – – Always Refer to the KEY as it will be your compass to steer & guide you away from traps & pitfalls and towards the treasure: Memorize 2 Timothy 3:15-16; 2 Peter 2:19-20; Psalm 119:105; Acts 17:11.
  • – – – BEWARE of False Signs, Guides & Distractions (2 Cor. 11:13-15; Col. 2:8; 1 Tim. 1:3-6, 13, 6:20) & Stay on the plotted coordinate of Proverb 3:5-7.
  • – – – X marks the spot when you’ve accepted THE WAY (John 14:6) & found Christ, in Whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom & knowledge–the key to life eternal (Col. 2:2-3, John 3:16, Eph. 1:3, 11-14)!

May you believe & receive the great treasure that awaits you in God, through Christ–the riches of His glorious inheritance & immeasurable greatness of His power toward those who believe (Eph. 1:17-21).  

Laura

I SPY BEAUTY

Beauty noticed
“I Spy Beauty” by Laura Kestly

Mid spring in Wisconsin is a special time of the year that wonderfully delights the senses. The greens are the most vibrant–the cacophony of birds chattering & singing after a long winter is most evident and the smells of the earth coming to life are truly intoxicating. All are a welcome reminder to slow down, step outside, pause & savor God’s wonderful creation–for these moments are all too fleeting in our fallen, chaotic world.

                God gives us these glimpses of beauty, respite and repose to savor & later meditate on so that we can carry the anticipation of eternity in our hearts, giving us hope, especially when life is more difficult.

As a final encouragement to the Philippians, the Apostle Paul encouraged them to mediate on whatever is true, noble, just, pure, lovely, praiseworthy, virtuous and of a good report (Phil. 4:8).

In Psalm 119 (the longest chapter in the Bible) verse 37 says, “Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things, and revive me in Your way.”

As I go on my walks, I am reminded of the great beauty of God’s creation begging to be noticed (even amid the trash, car noises, & road kill along the way). Creation in all its forms appear from the ground up toward the sky, yet we often choose to keep our head down in our smart phone–plugged in to our playlist and spending time with ‘friends’ on Facebook rather than in person.

The artist Georgia O’Keeffe, known for her enlarged flower paintings, once said, “Nobody sees a flower – really – it is so small it takes time – we haven’t time – and to see takes time, like to have a friend takes time.”

Spending time with God Himself, the epitome of beauty, should be our number one priority (Job 40:10).

David’s prayer in Psalm 27 included (in verse 4) his desire to seek the Lord & behold His beauty (pleasantness, delightfulness). I wrote the following poem about 6 years ago, but thought it was fitting to share again.

 The Beauty of a Moment Noticed

by Laura Kestly

The beauty of a moment noticed

requires a slower pace—

A purposeful derailment

from life’s busy- jam-packed race.

 It’s usually when, through times of trial

the earth seems to slow its spin—

Perception changes as we peer

from the outside looking in.

But God is ever present

in each moment of our days—

Waiting for us to quiet ourselves

to learn and trust His ways.

It takes a thoughtful pause to notice

the clouds, the birds, the trees—

To feel God’s loving Spirit

gently blowing as a breeze.

To look and really see someone

beyond the exterior side—

needs slow and thoughtful discernment

from the One Who longs to guide.

The beauty of a moment noticed

is for those who make the time—

And when we pause to feel His presence

It’s always so sublime.

Laura