Thursday, January 31, 2008
He also has diarrhea from the diet change, I think. Or maybe the edible nylabone, which we thought was fine, until I got a non-edible puppy nylabone today. I gave it to him and then noticed on the packaging that I was not to use the bone until I'd read the enclosed paper. Which warned against giving the new bone to a really strong puppy chewer. How are you supposed to know what a really strong puppy chewer is? It also gave information about all of the other nylabone products including the edible bones, which should never be given to dogs who don't have all their adult teeth because it's not suitable for the immature digestive systems of very young puppies. Swell. Is that why he has the diarrhea?
Okay, no one cares about this, but that's been part of my day. It means he has to go out a lot. It means I have to think about about why it's happening (food change, overeating, stress)
I did finish the first scene in chapter 14 and started thinking about the second and final scene in that chapter. I also listened to Quigley howl and scream in his crate during Bible class (when I had a friend over listening to class with me; he was fine last night when I did it alone. Naturally). Then after class, as I was making dinner he stood in the kitchen and barked incessantly, despite instruction not to. Finally I put him in his crate. Then he screamed and howled and barked and protested. At last he quieted and I let him out.
Stu came home, and the barking in the kitchen began again, combined with frantic jumping on the counter and chewing on the cabinet hardware, biting my clothes... So it was back to the crate for more screaming. I wore my earplugs and gritted my teeth. He quieted after only ten minutes or so...
It's amazing how nice and fun he can be for most of the day but around dinner time... the torture begins. Ah well. This too shall pass and soon he will be a big, grown up dog. I am making a point, despite all the puppy annoyances, of enjoying the things about puppies that I love. He will let me hold him and pet him for as long as I want earlier in the day. And he is still SOOO cute! Even when he's barking imperiously in the kitchen, or jumping up.
Okay, I am beat. Time for bed. But at least I got a post in, when I thought earlier I might not.
Have a great weekend,
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
He's been really good about not biting, and stopping when I say no. He jumps beside me when I walk around the back yard, rather than on me. We just had a lot of fun today. One of the things I really enjoy is when I sit on the floor and he comes running over to get in my lap, or just hang over my leg and chew on whatever I give him to chew on. He seems to settle and I love to pet him. He's so soft and warm and puppy-ish.
My camera still labors to get good shots of him. In all three of these I've posted today, he's moving. In one, he was so cute lying there. Then I clicked the shutter and he started to bound up -- so his ear is flopping out in the exuberance of his movement!
I don't know that I've ever put so much of the dog training into the Lord's hands before. I don't know that I ever thought I could. But if something's big enough to worry about, it's big enough to put in His hands. I am so aware of what I don't know and how poorly I execute, but I know that He knows exactly what is needed. He also knows I'm not going to do everything right. Or even much of anything right. Or so it's felt from what I realize now is the old perfectionistic viewpoint.
Anyway, I'm not worrying about how he turns out, something that used to be a big concern for me. I'm not worrying about whether I do the right thing or not. God will show me what to do, and take up the slack for my bungling. I'm not even worrying about whether he eats something bad in the back yard, which is a fear this latest development has stirred. Helped along by the vet who said we should take all his blankets and stuffed toys away and ... and I don't know what. Lock him in the crate 24/7 until he stops trying to eat everything in his periphery? Phooey.
He's a dog. He's a hound. They eat weird things. God will have to take care of him, because I have a book to write, and can't be chasing the dog all over the yard trying to pry every little thing out of his mouth.
And today, he did a lot less of it. Today he seemed to understand that I don't want him to jump on the laundry basket and tip it over, spilling all the clothes onto the ground. And though he was tempted, he didn't do it. Today I left him for 20 minutes in his crate and went to the store. He was fine. I just can't get over how nice today was.
I even got a lot of work done on Black Box. I finished reworking the first half of ch 12 and started in on ch 14 -- did 6 pages. So I'm happy with that, too.
Oh, and I got an email about a blog post called "17 Ways to Stop Being a Perfectionist and Get More Done" (good timing there). I thought it was a good article. Most of it I've heard/read before, but it never hurts to be reminded, because it's a habit that is all too easily fallen back into. You can find that here.
And here's my last pic of Quigley, running toward me in response to my "Come" command. (He's also learned to "sit.")
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
QUESTION "[I know] blood sacrifice is a key factor in the pre-Messianic covering of sin, but what about those in the Bible who weren't able to do the sacrifices? The best example would be Daniel. That would be a Mosaic Law example. But then there's the factor of all the pre-Mosaic Law people like Noah, Abraham and even Melchizedek. We know of blood sacrifices (you described Cain and Abel), but to what extent were there sacrifices? How much blood was there?"
ANSWER: Let me start with the pre-Mosaic law people, who were part of a patriarchal form of worship where the patriarch of the family served the priestly role by offering sacrifices for himself and his family. They were animal sacrifices. Like Abel who kept the flocks and offered the lamb/ram, so did all after him.
Noah was required to bring "every clean animal by sevens, a male and his female;" whereas the unclean were only to come by two, a male and his female. Sacrificial animals are definitely among the clean animals and Noah offered sacrifices after deliverance from the Flood in Gen 8:20. The specifics of his offering are not detailed beyond the fact he's offering animals and birds and they are burnt offerings.
Job, who was pre Abraham, offered burnt offerings for each of his 10 children after their feasting cycle, in case "my sons have sinned and cursed God in their hearts." He did this after every cycle or "continually" (Job 1:5) and we assume they were animals because til then that was the only sacrifice that had been described (God with his skins for Adam and the woman; Abel; Noah) At the end of Job, God tells Job's three "friends" that his wrath has been kindled against them and they need to "take for yourselves 7 bulls and 7 rams and go to My servant Job and offer up a burnt offering for yourselves..." (There were only three guys and they needed 14 animals: that's a lot of blood)
Abraham was a shepherd and he offered animal sacrifices numerous times during his journeys, but the most significant was when he and Isaac were traveling to Mt Moriah where he was to offer Isaac. Isaac noted the presence of the wood and the fire, but wondered "where is the lamb for the burnt offering?" Abraham said God would provide his own sacrifice, which He did in the form of the ram stuck in the bush. (Gen 22)
That incident, of course, is incredibly telling -- a total picture of the cross, and Christ, and how the lambs/rams that are being sacrificed represent his spiritual death on the the cross to come. Of course they didn't know it was to be on a cross because nobody did crucifixion until Roman times. They didn't know it would be a man in Abraham's day, either, just that God would provide the sacrifice. It wasn't until Isaiah that they began to realize the sacrifice would be a man (Is 53).
In Egypt, Moses asked Pharoah to let the people go so they could go offer sacrifices and burnt offerings to their God (which was why they needed to take their livestock with them --Ex 10:25,26). (And occurred before the giving of the Law.) Then on the first Passover as part of the ten plagues, a lamb was to be killed, its blood put in the points of a cross on the door posts and the death angel would pass over the house -- another picture of Christ.
As NT believers, having the completed canon of Scripture and the privilege of being able to look back and see the fulfullment of OT sacrifices in Christ we now know clearly that the Lamb was crucial in sacrifices and offerings. The references to the lamb are all over the word of God. And the connection between Christ and the Lamb, as well. That's no accident, and that's part of how we conclude that all those who came before the Law did indeed sacrifice animals, in particular, lambs. I suspect that it was sheepskins that God made for Adam and the woman.
Another factor to consider is the widespread practice in other cultures of offering animal sacrifices to pagan gods. Was that something they came up with on their own? I don't think so. I think it was perversion of the truth. From Cain on, it spread out, animals sacrificed to the wrong gods. Abram's father was priest to the moon goddess in Ur, where they offered sacrifices... what I'm saying is, the demon worship was a corruption of the sacrifices God had originally commanded.
Regarding Daniel and the other prisoners being unable to offer sacrifices... you have to remember that the temple had been destroyed, the country defeated, the shekinah glory was out of the temple long since. As a nation, the Jews were under discipline . But God is fair and knows the heart. If the heart understands the doctrine and desires to obey, then that is all that is needed. Conversely, sacrifices and offerings made without the right mental attitude are useless.
The Law was sent to show men they could not keep it. That they needed a savior. The Levitical offerings are all teaching aids and shadows of what would happen on the cross. Abraham believed God and it was credited to his account as Righteousness (Gen 15:6). The Law was never a means of salvation, only a picture of the need for it and the way God would provide it. Fulfilling the Law should have been an act of gratitude and recall of what man needed and what God would one day provide...
In His Grace,
Monday, January 28, 2008
I've been giving him a couple of tablespoons of rice every couple of hours, which, as the day wore on was not enough. By evening he was frantic to eat. Barking, searching for food, jumping up, biting, generally going bananas. So I added shredded chicken breast and some yogurt to the rice and gave him a bit more. Tomorrow we combine it with regular food.
For a dog that requires multiple chews and treats to correct his continuing bad behavior, it is not good to have all those off limits. And since we didn't want him in the back yard unattended... it's been a tough day.
But he sure seems to have recovered his activity level. No more lethargy for Quigley! Stu wondered tonight if people ever went to the vet and asked if they could make the dog just sick enough to be nice instead of a terror. I said they probably give them tranquilizers, which I think they really do in some cases.
Quigley's new skills as of today: 1)barking to communicate and get his way and 2)jumping up on the kitchen counter. SIGHHHH.... and we hadn't even gotten the biting and jumping up under control! But my son reminded me tonight that Bear also bit and barked a lot and jumped on the counter. I'd just forgotten. It's been a long time.
Despite all that, I got a tiny bit of work done on Black Box. But I didn't do my fifteen minutes of email and I still have Bible Class to do.
And that test last night? I think I might have gotten a C. I went to bed, put earplugs in and left it all to God and my husband, which was a pretty big thing for me. And I slept about 75% of the night. But in between I struggled with a knotted stomach brought on by wrong thinking -- speculating on the future, focusing on the problem and what to do about it, among other things. Still it was an opportunity to keep rebounding and pulling my thoughts off all that and back onto the Lord. Who He is, what He can do, the fact that nothing which happens is out of His control, the fact that He loves me more than I can know, that His ways are not our ways but He will work all things together for good to those who love Him. He can even make Crazy Quigley beautiful. In His time.
Oh. Did I mention that His time is usually very different from our time? I read something about dog training today, emphasizing the need for patience and not to get too frustrated when the dog seems not to get it or to relapse or whatever, and you just have to keep giving the same commands or corrections over and over and over. It takes a long time and with some dogs it's especially hard. Quig is one. (And Bear was, too -- as attested to by the little trophy on my desk from dog training class: we got Most Improved Team, by unanimous vote! He was a mess when we started. Everyone figured we'd quit. But we didn't, and by the end he actually had learned some things.)
I guess this is an opportunity, too, to think about how it is for God with us (except He sees the end at the same time as the present and past) -- patience. Just keep on plugging and don't give up. That is so true in SO many areas of life.
Sunday, January 27, 2008
Last Monday (the 21st) I researched trigger finger treatments and discovered that what I have isn't tendonitis after all, it's some weird ailment that mostly affects older women starting in their 40s - 60s, and isn't a result of overuse after all. It just happens. They don't know why. You can have it in one finger or several. The doctor on the site I found said that he'd only seen one person have it in all ten fingers at one time and it was a handball player. He said that immobilization is ineffective, as are anti-inflammatory drugs, icing, and activity moderation. The first line of treatment is cortisone shots and if those fail, surgery. The longer you wait, the more likely surgery will be your only option. After either treatment, though, it might come back. Swell.
I made an appointment with the hand surgeon that day, but he was booked up for four weeks so it'll be awhile before I see him. Then a friend told me she'd had trigger finger and used chondroitin/glucosamine and it went away. So I decided to try that (since we have an abundant supply in the house) and see if it gets better before time for the appt. So far I haven't seen a lot of improvement, but at least I'm not trying to blame my actions for it, and have just gone back to doing whatever I need to do. The good news is, my shoulder is no longer giving me trouble, though that could partly be because I've still not been able to do much computer work with Quigley around.
Speaking of Quigley, he's been getting better in some areas and developing new problems in others -- like learning from the dog on the other side of the fence to join her in barking continuously at each other. And we had an incredible, two-hour, crating scream-fest last Friday night.
Today brought new troubles, however and the worst, yet: he threw up all his breakfast mostly undigested about six hours after he'd eaten it. Since at his age he is vulnerable to parvovirus, even when he's on the right schedule of shots, we were concerned he might have it and took him to emergency (why do these things so often seem to happen on Sundays?). Turns out they think it might be a blockage in the small intestine. X-rays showed no hard object like a rock or wood, but from the pattern of gas pockets the vet saw, she thought it could be some sort of thread or fabric blob. Or nothing but irritation from something he ate. Like orange and tangelo leaves, or dirt. Or cat poop. Or...??? She also said that she's had occasions when she's seen the pattern indicate an obstruction but upon cutting the animal open, finds nothing. Since Quigley eats everything, though we've been trying hard to keep him from doing so, it could any of the above.
Treatment options were 1) to give him subcutaneous fluids along with injections of antibiotics and famotidine and, assuming he doesn't vomit for 12 hours, see if he can then hold down food and water, 2) hospitalize him on IV fluids with possible barium drink/x-ray exploration to see if the blockage will pass with the increased hydration and 3) exploratory surgery.
We opted for treatment number 1, the least radical treatment of subQ fluids and wait the night out. Actually it was my husband's decision, because after the night I spent waiting with Bear during his acute kidney failure episode, I hate wait-the-night-out scenarios. But since I failed in that event so badly (spiritually speaking), evidently the Lord has decided to give me another shot at it. And what a surprise: that very principle was mentioned in Friday night's Bible class, which I actually didn't listen to until last night. If we fail a test, He'll graciously keep giving us another shot at passing it.
Hmm. Kind of gives you a little more motivation for passing it!
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
In ancient times, sheep were a measure of a person's wealth. They were valuable animals that produced wool, mutton, and milk. The wool was by far the most valued production and was, of course renewable.
It was the wool that really struck me in the conference lessons. That is the most valuable production of the sheep: wool. Yet sheep do not consciously grow wool. They don't sit in the pasture and think, "I'm going to grow some wool today," then close their eyes and strain as they say, "Grow, wool! Grow!"
It's really the shepherd who has the most to do with the quality or quantity of the sheep's wool. If the sheep is well cared for and eats the good grass and drinks the clear water, wool is produced. All those things have to do with the Shepherd and how he cares for the sheep. If the shepherd brings the sheep to bad grasses, it will become malnourished. When it's malnourished, wool production is poor. The wool is shorter, thinner, brittle. And other areas of sheep production are not as good either. The milk is not as nutritious or as abundant. The lambs may be smaller, skinnier, fewer and weaker...
This analogy to Christian works could not be better. Readers occasionally write to thank me for being obedient to God's calling to write. The sentiment has always left me somewhat bemused, and now at last I have the proper metaphor to express why. It's like going into the field and thanking the sheep for making wool, when all the sheep did was follow the shepherd and eat what He provided. The wool was a side-product from the sheep's point of view. Better would be to thank the shepherd for taking such good care of the sheep. Or to thank the sheep for eating, but that seems a little weird, too, since what's so special about eating? Sheep are dumb, yes, but even they know how to eat!
Now, whenever I hear the term "bring glory to God" I visualize myself sprouting wool -- whatever production I have is something I do because I'm designed to do it. If I'm eating the right spiritual food and drinking the pure water, at rest and content, then it's going to happen. Not because of me and my intent and my plans, but because of my Shepherd's.
Monday, January 21, 2008
Shepherds of David's day and before were not wimps. When Joseph's brothers sold him to the slavers, they concocted a story about having found his tunic torn and bloodied, and their father Jacob naturally concluded that he'd been eaten by a wild beast. It was a good story because that was a common end to shepherds in the field. When you went out with your sheep (your flock of brainless mutton on the move, the world's first mobile cafeteria) you knew that there would be predators that would come to seek what you were guarding and guiding. David recounts his own story of having killed both lion and bear to get his sheep back. David, the shepherd who slew the giant Goliath with a sling and a sword. .
Shepherds were tough and fierce. David, writing of the Twenty-Third Psalm knew that as well as anyone, and was a demonstration of it.
In last week's conference Pastor John Farley quoted from Josias Leslie Porter's book, Five Years In Damascus: With Travels And Researches In Palmyra, Lebanon, The Giant Cities Of Bashan And The Hauran. Porter was an 18th century missionary who visited the middle east in order to get a better idea of the reality behind many of the images used in the Bible. He said that shepherds even of that day had none of the peace and placidness we see in the stereotypes of devotional renderings. They were more like warriors. Grim-faced and fierce eyes, armed with dagger, pistols, battleaxe, and club they went out prepared to do battle for their sheep.
"Don't confuse the Lamb with the Shepherd," said Pastor Farley. "If a shepherd is up to the task of guarding and keeping his sheep, he will be more like a lion."
I think that's wonderful imagery to help us see yet another facet of our Lord's person and character. In fact, that's what this psalm is about: who is our God? David could have cited the ten characteristics of His essence, but instead, he went a step further. The Lord is my Shepherd. My big, bad shepherd who is absolutely up to the task of handling all my needs, of bringing me to the place of choice grass and quiet, soul restoring waters, who will heal all my wounds, guard me from ravening beasts, and whack me over the head with his rod or haul me out of thickets with his staff when needed. With this guy leading me, taking care of me, providing for me, how can I possibly ever lack for anything?
Well... the fact is, I can't. And every time I worry about anything, no matter how small, I'm being exactly like the stupid sheep who freaks out at the sudden appearance of a rabbit and starts a stampede of the other stupid sheep in his periphery. And the best thing is, my shepherd knows that. He knows my weakness, and He knows how to take care of me in spite of it.
The Lord is my shepherd, I CANNOT lack.
Sunday, January 20, 2008
So begins perhaps one of the most famous passages in the Bible, and certainly the most famous and beloved psalm. Many have memorized it, claim it and love it. But how many read it with the realization that if they claim the Lord as their shepherd, they are identifying themselves as sheep? And if they do realize that... do they really understand what that identification implies?
Our Arizona Bible conference last weekend dealt with this latter question. And the identification does not imply that sheep are cute and fluffy creatures who love following their shepherd, and we are therefore the same. I wonder how many people are aware of the very frequent and consistent reference God's word makes to us humans as sheep. Of all the animals it's sheep that God chose as the ones we most remind Him of.
So what are sheep really like?
What follows are some tidbits on sheep from the conference, courtesy of a former sheep farmer who was in attendance. Consider how much like sheep are we as people (spiritually/soulishly):
Sheep are dumb. Dumber than goats; dumber even than cows. They are so dumb they have to be led into the barn at night because they can't find their way on their own -- this is the same barn they might sleep in every night!
When sheep fall over they need assistance getting up.
When they do fall, their wool gets filthy and they need to be brushed and cleaned by the shepherd,or eventually they will develop all sorts of ailments.
Because of a sheep's makeup, it is impossible for them to lie down and rest. They must have a definite and complete sense of freedom from fear, tension, aggravation and hunger before they will rest.
Sheep require continuous attention and tremendous care from the shepherd.
When sheep are frightened, their first instinct is to run away. And sheep are easily frightened.
They also display a tendency toward mob behavior, particularly with respect to fear. For example, a herd can be grazing peacefully across a quiet hillside when suddenly a jackrabbit jumps out of a bush and startles one. In moments the one's fear (of nothing) has spread throughout the entire herd and they all run panicked in every direction.
Keep in mind that God is well aware of all these qualities and chose the comparison VERY deliberately!
If you'd like to hear these lessons for yourself, you can find them at http://www.gbible.org/ under "Featured classes": AZ conference 2008 (in four parts)
Thursday, January 17, 2008
I was certain I had made him hate the crate and would now have to begin anew with baby steps to get him to even go near it.
About nine o'clock that night, Stu called me to "come and see." Quigley had gone into the open crate all by himself and was lying inside of it, dozing. Later, when he turned into Crazy Quigley again, Stu had to put him in it for a time-out and he accepted it without a peep.
Today I've put him in the crate a number of times and the longest he's protested is five minutes. Other times he didn't protest at all, and several times he walked into it all by himself. I just closed the door after he fell asleep. When he woke up he made just enough little noises to let me know he was awake, whereupon I let him out.
So today, he's been a lot of fun. He's sooo cute. He knows his name and we've been playing hide and seek. The biting is way down -- I tell him no and offer acceptable alternatives when he tries -- and the other things, like attacking the couch as a way of getting attention... or maybe just a thing he does when he's super-tired and has no idea why he's doing it... are not nearly so manic. Progress has definitely been made! Hallelujah.
Top: Quigley in the box he sleeps in beside our bed
Bottom: the coonhound with his raccoon (eyeless, of course)
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
This was so not my intention when I put him in there. Now I only want him to be quiet for a few minutes so I can let him out. But he's not letting up.
I wonder how often we are like that with God. If He isn't up there tapping his foot, waiting for us to submit to the situation and accept it and stop complaining and demanding and howling about it. If only we'd stop and be silent for a bit, he'd come and open the gate -- which He dearly wants to do -- and let us out. But first we have to learn the lesson... The blessing and release come in His timing, not ours.
Tuesday, January 15, 2008
I had all these thoughts of blog posts about the conference (when it was going on) and also a few reader emails I wanted to address, and now it seems that all I'm going to talk about is the dog. We have never had a puppy that goes into the manic wild phase that Quigley does. The more tired he gets, the harder and more continuously he starts biting. He's like a whirling dervish. He goes wild attacking his little dog bed (see accompanying photos). He comes over and starts biting my chair repeatedly. I tell him no and unhook his jaws from the chair and he bites bite me -- my hand, my arm, my leg, then immediately goes back to biting the chair. His teeth are sharp as I mentioned, but I really don't like the intensity of the biting, both in frequency and in force. If I tell him no, he ignores me. If I yell no, he barks back...
To his credit, he only does this when he's starting to get tired. It's worst in the late afternoon. He works himself into a frenzy, then finally collapses into a sound sleep. When he awakes, its sweet little Quigley again. He's so nice and gentle and calm...We've never had a pup like this, and all our methods of dealing with it are not working.
So I've been doing research... Googled "puppy manic mode" and got some hits, including a blog by SF writer Robin McKinley who has some sort of sight hounds which she calls "hellhounds" and which also apparently display this mania. Another site, on training Irish Wolfhounds (also sight hounds) had a bit more in the way of suggestions and advice, so we've decided that it's very important not to "play" with him when he gets like this and that if we can't get him to lie calmly and chew on one of his toys, then we'll either put him out in the back yard alone, or crate him.
I haven't crated him since the first day I stayed with him. That was Monday, when I waited until he was very tired and then put him into the crate. He started screaming, but fell asleep in about two minutes. About half an hour later he awoke and screamed again, so I let him out, but I think perhaps I was premature. Anyway, there are going to have to be a lot of behavior changes on my part. The information I read gave six different types of puppy personality, and my husband has concluded that Quigley falls into the "bully" category. That's a pup who takes himself much too seriously and would be the leader in a pack of dogs. Thus he expects to be the leader with us as well. They are difficult to train, but it can be done with patience. A lot of the things I've been doing have told him I'm a puppy, too. Not good.
Everyone said Bear would be difficult to train, too. And he sure wasn't easy, especially when compared with the other dogs in the training class. He wasn't as aggressive as Quigley in his puppy stage, though. But my information says that puppies do what gets them attention, hence our plan to crate him or exile him for the bad behavior.
One way I do see the Lord's hand in this: never before would I have been ready for this kind of dog, neither from my experience with dogs themselves, nor spiritually. Previously I know I would be freaking out. Now, I just keep falling back on the Lord, trusting Him to solve the problem, refusing to speculate and leap out into a future full of scary and dire what-ifs, asking Him for guidance on what to do... both generally and moment by moment specific. Seems I've had a lot of practice with this sequence, since it's exactly what I have to do with the book.
Speaking of, I need to tell my editor whether or not I expect to finish the thing by Mar 31. I have no idea. I have no schedule, because, as many know, schedules never work. I no sooner make one than I break it. Or life breaks it for me... But I can't keep not answering, so I guess I'll have to bite the bullet and make a decision. I really want to try for Mar 31...
With Quigley thus far, though, there's not been a lot of time to do much other than deal with him. I'm hoping that will change. Well, I'm sure it will, because this is God's problem and if He wants me to write the book, He'll have to provide the time for me to do that.
Monday, January 14, 2008
On Thursday the preliminaries for our annual Arizona Bible Conference began, with old friends arriving from out of town and many of us gathering to help with the setup of the conference room occurring at the Doubletree Hotel that evening. Because Pastor McLaughlin is on hiatus, dealing with personal issues, Pastor Farley taught the entire conference, giving us an in depth look at Psalm 23 not only from a shepherd's point of view but from a sheep's as well. (If you want to listen to them, check out the AZ Conference 2008 lessons at http://www.gbible.org/ where they can be streamed or downloaded.)
They were a fantastic series of lessons, which I will no doubt be drawing from for blog posts in the near future. (Though at the rate readers are asking questions that I'd like to answer, who can say.) The best thing about it for me is the image I will carry with me of the shepherd/warrior, the strong, wise, gentle man who at the same time is fierce and well armed and prepared for fighting off lions, bears and thieves sometimes single-handedly to protect his sheep. The one who must make sure the sheep are protected and feel completely safe before they will eat from the pasture of choice grasses He has led them too. But more on that later...
...Because the second event of the weekend, almost as significant in details of life terms as the conference is in spiritual terms, is that on Saturday my hubby went to Phoenix and brought home Quigley, an eight week old redbone coonhound pup, who even at this young age seems nothing like Bear and is quite a handful. His arrival meant that in interim moments during the conference and attendant activities (which included the ordination of Pastor Rory Clark and three deacons; eating out and a trip to Sabino Canyon) I slipped home to meet and play with the puppy. Who is incredibly cute, but has very sharp teeth and claws and seems to be far more fixated on biting and chewing than I remember Bear being.
His presence means that I must do my chores and especially any writing activities during his naps, because at this point we haven't forced crate training on him, and aren't comfortable leaving him in our not-puppy-safe yard yet. He is quite comfortable outside, but since he seems to want to bite and chew on everything in his periphery, the yard is not ready for that...
Since I am not ready for him to attack the wires of my computer yet, either, I don't want him in my writing room and so...I have yet to work out the details of how I'm going to get any work done apart from naptime. The Lord knows how, though, and I'm trusting Him for all of it.
Also, I'm happy to report, my shoulder pain has abated, and I decided maybe the kingdom of darkness was the real source of my finger problems and have chosen to ignore them for now. Just do the things I have to do, and leave it to the Lord to handle. If my hands turn into claws, then I will have to do something. But so far that doesn't seem to be happening. Though they are now covered with scratch-scabs from the onslaught of tiny, knife-sharp puppy teeth!
But isn't he cute?
Wednesday, January 09, 2008
Maybe. I'm not sure there's really a scripture to support this, though there is to support our unceasing, internal fight against the sin nature. The fact that our battle is not against flesh and blood -- people -- but against the forces of darkness in the atmosphere, however, does imply that people can be used by the demons to hinder and attack us. How exactly that's accomplished isn't spelled out. But Satan primarily went after Job's body and outward circumstances. There's no mention of his planting thoughts in Job's mind.
I definitely don't think there is a whole host of demons going after every believer, however. That's because Satan rules the world. He is the prince of the powers of the air. And what goes through air? Words. What are in words? Thoughts. His whole system of thinking -- independence from God: "I can do it myself, thank you" -- saturates the world. We are born into it. We inhale it, hear it, digest it, learn it, have it reinforced every day, all day. By everything around us. Our sin nature cleaves to it. Loves it. Gobbles it up.
Even the majority of believers live in it and embrace its principles, though often they cloak those principles with spiritual words and make them seem like something they're not. But Satan has his ministers of light that teach people how to be righteous, many believers are said to be enemies of the Cross of Christ, and we are specifically told to avoid those who have a form of the spiritual life but not the power, ever learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth.
"Worldliness" is not just sin, immorality and antagonism toward God. It's also morality and religion and outward "goodness." (The Pharisees were very moral, very religious, very "upright."). Worldliness is thinking in accordance with Satan's thought system, which is a counterfeit of God's. His initial desire, remember was not to be opposite of God but to be like God. To take God's place.
Since we cannot turn on the TV, radio, cell phone, read the paper, magazines, books, converse with others, go to work meetings or school meetings, etc, without being drenched in this thought system, and since most believers have adopted it in some way or other, what need have the demons of going after all of us? Since we all have a sin nature that loves the cosmic way of thinking, all they have to do is sit back and let that nature work as they control the media, the "air."
The biggest way I think they go after us is trying to get us away from the intake of God's word on a daily basis, which is our only hope of standing against this ubiquitous and continuous deceptive brainwashing by the world. That and try to get us to believe there is no angelic conflict. To reject what I said in the previous paragraph. To think there is something more important than God's word.
And while some of the thoughts we have may seem to us shocking and wicked... well... we are sick. From the tops of our heads to the soles of our feet, there is no soundness in us (Is 1:6). The hearts of men are full of evil and insanity (Eccl 9:3). Don't like to think that a part of you is evil and insane? Guess who's prompting that thought? Not the new nature (which is perfect and cannot sin, remember). When you sin, do things that shock you, think things that shock you... what's the big deal? You just fall back on what the scripture says about what wicked sinners we are in the flesh. Where's the shock when that flesh gets the better of us from time to time? We can really only be shocked if we think we're better than the Bible says we are.
And while the Bible does say we're nothing in the flesh, it also says the real us is not the flesh, because technically the flesh is dead. It's been dealt with -- so far as sin is concerned -- on the the cross. The real us, if we've believed in Jesus's atoning work on that cross, is that perfect new nature which carries the very righteousness of God in it which can never be lost. It's not I that sin, as Paul says in Romans 7, but the sin nature that dwells within me. And when that happens, all we have to do is confess it to get back into fellowship.
None of that to say the demons can't or don't plant thoughts in people's minds or move them in some undisclosed way to do things that hinder others who are going forward in God's plan. Nor even that they don't plant thoughts occasionally in the folks who are really far along in their Christian walk. I just don't think that's the case with me. I think my sin nature more than does the job they need it to do.
I will say that they do know exactly how to push my buttons to get that inner dead man to react... But that's for another post.
Tuesday, January 08, 2008
Whenever you put someone on a pedestal, admire them, worship them, try to emulate them, you are probably guilty of the beginning stage of iconoclastic arrogance. You've created an idol. The image of a perfect person. Unfortunately, no person is perfect. We all have a sin nature and eventually that wicked part of us will reveal itself. The feet of clay will show. The idol's golden facade will crack and the worm within will be exposed.
When that happens, the iconoclast goes into full bore destruction of the idol. Suddenly the person once admired and respected is despised, accused, judged, and condemned. Sometimes the iconoclast will do whatever they can to bring that person down -- gossip, malign, put down, lie...
I've known about iconoclastic arrogance for awhile and never thought I had much problem with it. Until a couple of lessons last month brought up the fact that our sin nature can do an iconoclastic arrogance trip on our own selves. My sin nature believes that it's important to do well. To have the respect of others. To have, in fact, the approbation of others. When any of those qualities are threatened, it gets very upset. The idea that I am a good person, that I am doing okay, that I am worthy is suddenly replaced by this inward attacker that does all the same things the iconoclast does. Suddenly there's all this inner condemnation -- you're late, you blew it, no one is going to like that post, they don't like your book, you're a lousy writer, whatever made you think you could write anyway, no one cares, why do you even bother...
The derision and accusations go on and on. Often as I'm preparing a newsletter to go out, or after I've put up a blog post, the sense of inadequacy will descend. Or if I'm not getting "enough" done in a day. Or have done something not quite perfectly.
My sin nature seems to go after the emotions first. There's a growing sense of unease, of darkness, of condemnation. As the bad feeling gets settled, my motivation drains away. I don't want to write. Don't want to do anything -- except email, in the unconscious, unacknowledged hope I'll get a stroke that'll make me feel better, though if I do, it's never enough to dispel the cloud. Eventually I stop and start to analyze what is wrong. That's when I realize what I'm doing.
I've become adept enough at this that my feeling bad intervals are getting shorter and shorter and I'm starting to nail the problem sooner. But I'm also finding many, many areas that are triggers for my sin nature to start acting up. To start creeping back, trying to regain that lost control. It flashes a thought into my mind. I can pass it by, or latch on... If I ignore it, the thought will come again. And again until I stop and confront it. No. That's against the word of God... I know there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. These accusations are not from Him. I am perfect in His sight, and the only thing that really matters is what Jesus did, not what I'm doing or not doing. Perfectionism is so not where it's at when it comes to this life.
I think I'm understanding more and more how I'm to use that command in 2 Co 10:4,5 about taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. But it's a slow process.
Monday, January 07, 2008
Galatians 5:17 says "the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please" -- my sin nature is against the Spirit that indwells me and it's against God. I knew that.
The old sin nature can only sin and do evil or produce human good. The new nature, conversely, cannot sin (I Jn 3:9). I knew that, too. Here's what I learned, or maybe "saw" in a way I'd not seen it before: Before I was saved I lived only in my sin nature. I had no choice. It controlled my soul. It controlled the thoughts in my soul. I was a slave to it, and didn't even know it. One of the reasons for that is because the sin nature doesn't just sin. It also, as I said, produces human good, which can seem -- and feel -- very good and very right.
When I got saved, God gave me a new nature which cannot sin, and pronounced the old nature dead, crucified with Christ. It had lost its power at that point not because it was "dead" in the sense that it has become inert and inoperative (it hasn't) but because from the point of salvation on, I can choose against it. No longer does it have automatic control.
Now, as I live my Christian life, I choose on a moment by moment basis which nature I live in: the new one, which cannot sin, which loves God and His word, or the old one, which can sin and which hates God. Like all believers, I am a spiritual schizophrenic, at any given moment operating from one of my two completely opposite natures. All it takes is rebound (confession of sin) to get back in the new nature and under the control of the Spirit. All it takes is a thought to get back under the control of the sin nature. And that sin nature is trying its hardest to regain that control. Constantly.
And this is another thing I "saw": my sin nature, the thing that is part of my flesh and that I will have with me until the day that I die, HATES God. It hates the Spirit. It doesn't want to have anything to do with truth, except as it can distort it and use it to its (the sin nature's) benefit. It is just as bad as any demon.
I used to think that some of the negative thoughts I am plagued with (more on that another time) came from demons. But I know that as a believer indwelt by the the Father, Son and Spirit, it is not possible for demons to indwell or possess me. My friends and I have discussed whether they can read our minds, though. How else can they know exactly the thoughts that are needed to disrupt whatever it is we're doing/thinking for the Lord? I'm sure they can read our faces and expressions, and guess our thoughts from that, since they have vast experience dealing with humans. But read our minds? And actually place thoughts into them?
With this new revelation regarding the wickedness of my sin nature, I realized they don't need to read my thoughts -- or place thoughts in my head -- to get to me. They have an inside ally. My sin nature knows exactly what I'm thinking and it is the source of most if not all of the negative, accusing/condemning thoughts that plague me. It has its own agenda -- approbation lust, power lust, selfishness, etc -- and it does not want to do things God's way. Recognize/admit that there is no good thing in the flesh? That we can do nothing of ourselves and God is the one who does everything? That HE has begun a good work in me and HE will perfect it?
This is absolutely anathema to the wicked nature that dwells in me. The last thing in the world it wants to acknowledge is that there is no good in it. (Unless it can get into a competition with someone else for "least good," and thereby manage to exalt itself in a bizarre distortion of what it sees as "humility".)
How is this helpful? The more I know about it and how it works, the better I can fight it. Now when the negative self talk comes, I realize quicker that it's from my sin nature, and can deflect it, refute it, refuse to let it control my soul. Accusation and condemnation are from the devil and His system of thinking, which my sin nature loves. But there is NO condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. (Ro 8:1)