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12:24 PM  [10 Sep 2008 | Wednesday]

Lost Dogs, Blogs, & God spelled backwards...

So many times before I was married, God showed me Himself by using my rottweiler, Siouxsie, to teach me lessons. Siouxsie was a very big dog, but as gentle as a lamb. (Pay attention to that "lamb" part for a bit later).

Siouxsie shared my bed, always lying near my feet when I went to bed, and hogging my pillow by morning. One night, about 3:30 a.m., Siouxsie decided that she was thirsty, so she got up to get herself a drink of water. The problem was, the bed was right by the wall, and she was lying on that side of the bed. She tried to gently sneak over me without disturbing me, but she stepped right on the spot on my stomach where I had just had surgery for a hernia. Needless to say, a dog weighing in at 122 lbs. is going to wake her sleeping master, hernia surgery stitches or not. As I awoke, in pain, disoriented, confused, and frustrated, Siouxsie jumped off of the bed and scampered around out the bedroom door, into the next room. All that I could do was say, "Siouxsie!", irritated by the rude awakening, and still in pain.

That precious dog then poked her adorable face around the edge of the doorway, peeking back in at me. I just looked at her. She then walked right back into the bedroom, right up between my knees, sat down and laid her head gently on my lap, looking up to me with those sorrowful eyes, obviously apologizing for waking me and hurting me. "I'm so sorry, Daddy" is what she was telling me. It was so sweet. She knew that I was unhappy with what just happened, but she still came right to me and repented. That is when GOD spoke.

The Holy Spirit told me, "See, this is how I want you to be with Me. When you sin. When you do something that you know makes Me unhappy, I want you to come directly to Me, lean on Me. I always love you, no matter what. I'm 'Abba Father', your 'Daddy God'. What you are feeling right now for this dog that just hurt you is called love and forgiveness. I have that for you, and so much more, always. Always. I love you. Never be afraid to run to Me."

After I was married, God obviously chose to use my wife and kids to reveal His nature to me, and to teach me about Himself. Still, however, He did use a few lost dogs to teach me, and my family, even more about himself.

In June of 2001 we loaded up our 35' 5th wheel trailer, our crew cab GMC, and headed out on a very cool adventure, touring with a band that we were blessed with the opportunity to be the executive producers (primary financiers) of. We set up our trailer at a KOA campground near Bakersfield, CA, then drove into Bakersfield to meet up with the band for the first stop on the tour. It was hot. REALLY HOT! The concert was part of an all day outreach put on by a Christian Biker group, and was taking place in a city park (in a relatively "rough" neighborhood.

The event was going well, the Good News of Jesus was being shared by several bands and artists throughout the day. Our daughter was six years old at the time, and our son was five years old. They came up to me during the event, and pointed out a little stray puppy to me. He was roaming around the area, looking for food scraps, and trying to lap what little water he could get from the drops of melted ice draining from a cooler under a picnic table.

It broke my heart to watch how that poor little puppy was being ignored by most, kicked by some, and just so lost. He looked so sick, and almost dead. He obviously had not eaten in quite a while because he looked more like a dog skeleton with skin wrapped tightly around it, than he did a dog. From the appearance of his long legs and big feet, I could tell that, if he ever survived, he was not going to be a small dog. He was covered with hundreds and hundreds of ticks and fleas, emaciated beyond belief, and his future was obviously bleak.

I picked the little guy up and held him. Our kids wanted to pet him, and I let them pat his head for a moment, but, because of the parasites on him, I took him away from the kids. I showed him to my wife, who is not much of a dog person, but was obviously moved by this little guy's plight. I told her that I was going to get the poor little guy something to eat. I walked across the street to a convenience store/liquor store. There were quite a few dudes around that store, both inside and out, that were obviously of questionable character (gangsta's, thugs, drug dealers, pimps, etc.) The outreach across the street was for them. They were watching and listening from what they thought was a "safe" distance from those "crazy Christians".

I took the dog into the store with me. I found a can of dog food, and got a bottle of water, and went to the counter. I was given a paper chili bowl when I paid for the water & dog food. I immediately opened the can of dog food right there in the store, and dumped the dog food on the floor for the little guy to eat. It was too hot outside for this little, weak puppy. I figured that this may be his last meal, so I wanted him to have something good to eat, some cold water, and to at least to know a bit of love. The people in the store looked at me like I was nuts. I poured the water from the bottle into the paper bowl. The puppy ate all of the dog food, and drank all of the water. I then picked him up and took him back across the street to the park. I put him on the ground, and he ran off. I figured that was the last we'd seen of him. It broke my heart, but at least he had a meal and some water.

About an hour later, my wife walked up to me with the little puppy in her arms! I was amazed! She asked me if we could take him with us. This was the first tour date of a six week tour that would take us from California to Utah, Wyoming, Iowa, Illinois, Idaho, Oregon, and back to Washington. I was not sure what she meant, and I told her that we'd try to find a shelter or something for him. I said, "Come here, Bakersfield" (that's how he got his name) and took him from my wife's arms and carried him to our truck. I put the puppy in the back seat of the truck with another dish of cold water, and left the windows open. Later, we left the concert, and went to a Target store that was open 24 hours. My wife loaded the shopping cart with 20 pounds of puppy chow, 2 nice ceramic dog dishes, a cool "Harley Davidson" dog collar with flames on it, a nice leash, a tie-out cable, and a dog carrier kennel. I knew that we had a dog, and he wasn't going anywhere but with us. It would be a challenge, especially on the road, but I couldn't be happier.

We drove back to the KOA campground, and, as my wife got the kids ready for bed in the "house" (BIG trailer), I opened the tailgate of the truck, hooked the dog's tie-out cable to the tailgate cable, put the dog carrier kennel under the tailgate with a dish of dog food and a dish of water beside it, and hooked Bakersfield to the cable. I then spent about 20 minutes just petting him, talking to him, comforting him, and letting him know that he had a family and he'd be OK now.

When I finally went into the trailer, our kids said, "Is Bakersfield going to be alright, Daddy?" This is when the really cool, "ONLY GOD" part happened. I said, "Yes, kids, Bakersfield is going to be alright. It's just like how Jesus saves us. We're lost and alone. We're dirty, starved, basically dead, attacked by parasites, worthless, rejected, neglected, and abused. Jesus swoops down in all of His love, picks us up and holds us. He rescues us. He takes the time to show us His great love, to clean us up, to care for us, and take us Home with Him." That's when it hit me. That's the simplicity of the Gospel, the Good News of Jesus, and again He used a dog to show me the depth of His love, the simplicity of His grace, and how I can share Jesus with my kids. I almost cried, I was so moved. Jesus is so good!

Fortunately, the next stop on the tour was Lancaster, CA, and we were to be in that area for 4 days, so every spare moment I had was spent with Bakersfield. I purchased a flea comb and some medication to treat dogs for ticks and fleas. I then carefully, painstakingly, gently went over Bakersfield's entire body, inch by inch, hair by hair, even deep into his ears, everywhere, removing every last flea and tick, applying the medication, and showing him as much love as I possibly could. My wife and kids were right there the whole time, talking to Bakersfield, petting him, and making him a part of our family. That entire time, the Holy Spirit continually reminded me of how much GOD cares for us, how He takes the time to clean us up, to remove every last bit of what harms us from our lives, all the while healing us, loving us, and making us part of His family. Adoption. That's one of the best words in the world! :)

Several weeks later, at the very end of that same tour, we ended up finding another "lost dog", a beautiful Chesapeake Bay Retriever, while at an RV park. Needless to say, and to make a long story short, she joined our family as well. Maybe I can tell that story in another LOST DOG BLOG. Her name is Cocoa. She's another example of the grace, mercy, and love of ONLY GOD, Jesus the Christ.

Today, Bakersfield and Cocoa are very much part of our family. They live in a nice 50'X25' kennel in our back yard. They have two "Dogloo" dog houses, but they sleep together in one, and use the other to store "prizes", you know, things like balls, rocks, sticks, bones, etc. Every moment that I spend with those dogs reminds me of how faithful God is, and how much He loves us. It reminds me of how much that God does for us every single moment of every single day.

Yup. dog spelled backwards is... what???

:)

There's just something about Lost Dogs...

(yes, and the band, "Lost Dogs" was great, too! you can get their stuff at the iTunes store! good stuff. I have actually been listening to "Lost Dogs" the entire time that I was writing this Lost Dogs Blog)

Mood: blessed
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6:23 AM  [23 Mar 2007 | Friday]

GRACE

  Like the author of that all-time favorite hymn, I constantly find the grace of our GOD truly amazing. Here we are, sinful wretches, worthless in ourselves and our sin, and HE, through the blood of JESUS the CHRIST, and through HIS amazing grace, saves us, receives us, accepts us, adopts us, sanctifies us, then uses us for HIS glory through the power of HIS HOLY SPIRIT. That is truly amazing. My personal definition of the grace of GOD is simply this; I suck, HE sees me through the blood of JESUS, loves me and accepts me as I am, I accept HIS forgiveness and receive HIM into me, then HE adopts me and uses me...and I no longer suck.

That amazing grace is evident in and around us constantly, but we rarely stop to take notice of it. We, being foolish humans, seem to constantly take advantage of HIS grace, and take it for granted. I am now learning to be constantly thankful for that wonderful grace, for HIS endless and unconditional love. That new attitude, in turn, makes it easier for me to rejoice always, even when life seems to suck all around me. When I get there, I realize that I can do anything at all through HIM because HE is my strength. Oh, you may be wondering who HE is. JESUS. J-E-S-U-S, JESUS the CHRIST, the CHOSEN ONE, the NAME above all names, the KING of kings, the LORD of lords, the EVERLASTING FATHER, the PRINCE of Peace, WONDERFUL COUNSELOR, ALMIGHTY GOD, my SAVIOUR, my ROCK, my FORTRESS, the DOOR, the WAY, the TRUTH, the LIFE, the VINE, the GOOD SHEPHERD, my BEST FRIEND, JESUS!

If HE is for me, who can possibly be against me? The Bible tells us that in HIM we have all of the authority, power, and fullness of GOD available to us at any and all times. Since GOD cannot lie, then in HIM we're more than conquerors! How can we possibly lose, as long as our focus is on HIM and our lives are wrapped up in HIM? HE has given us promises, guarantees, that positively assure us of victory, good health, great wealth, and, most importantly, much fruit! Good grief, why do we continue to focus on what overwhelms us when HE is with us always? I gotta keep my eyes on HIM and walk on the water. "There is no spoon." (If you saw "The Matrix", you'll understand that one.) What I perceive as reality is only partially true. What is really TRUE is that JESUS has limitless power, and if we're in HIM, and HE in us, then that power is in us, HIS authority is in us. We're not of defense, we're on offense! That lame enemy, satan, and all of his demons, are all limited to being at only one place at a time, he doesn't know everything, and what he does know, half of that he refuses to believe, and he and his demons' power is very limited. JESUS, through HIS HOLY SPIRIT, is in us always, and HE is not limited by time or space. JESUS is everywhere at all times. HIS power is unlimited. HE is all knowing and all loving. In short, if we are loving and serving HIM, if HE is truly in us, than we have living in us an all knowing, all loving, everywhere at all times, all powerful GOD!!!

From time to time we all feel like we are under attack. If we're truly in HIM, then we should never feel like we're under attack. When I feel like I'm under attack, the HOLY SPIRIT reminds me that it's because my focus is off and I'm cowered on my knees and elbows in fear, facing the wrong direction, with the enemy to my back. What I need to be doing when the "attack" comes is realize that I am on offense! Resist the devil and he will flee from you! Remember, satan is just a liar, and he'll take any circumstance in life and put his distorted magnifying glass in front of it to cause us to believe that circumstance is so overwhelming that we're just defeated. That's simply NEVER the case! Since satan is a liar, and the father of lies, we need to stand on the promises given to us in the Bible and, by the authority of the NAME of JESUS, resist satan, tell him to leave, along with any and all evil spirits that are working along with him, then claim the Blood of JESUS over ourselves, our homes, and our families. We are GOD's kids!!! Joint heirs with JESUS the CHRIST!

Who is satan to try to mess us up. The only reason he even comes after us is because he hates the FATHER GOD, and is angry with HIM because satan, "lucifer", the original worship leader in Heaven, was booted out because he thought himself greater than his CREATOR. Now, if you know the nature of a musician ( I'm a musician myself), then you can probably understand that since satan was the band leader, and he himself was kicked out of the Band, and totally out of Heaven, he's a pretty angry dude. Since he can't get back at FATHER GOD directly (he's too weak), he has chosen to focus his attack on the ones who FATHER GOD created in HIS OWN IMAGE, we humans, the apple of the FATHER's eye. satan thinks that he can get back at FATHER GOD by taking away his kids. We were given that AMAZING GRACE after we chose to "fall" into sin. Seems like it was more like a leap than a "fall". In any case, JESUS shed HIS Blood for us so that we could be restored to relationship with FATHER GOD. We all know that in our heads, but we need to really know that in our hearts. Until we do, we're limited in our walk of life. Don't we want to walk in victory all of the time? We can! I want to do that!

Rejoice always, pray always, in everything give thanks, trust in the LORD with your whole heart and ignore what your mind tells you. Seek GOD's Kingdom and Righteousness first. Keep asking, keep seeking, keep knocking. Be filled with the HOLY SPIRIT. Love the LORD with your whole heart, mind, and strength. Love everyone as you love yourself (oh, and love yourself). In JESUS' Name!

Wow! I was just gonna' say a bit about how amazing GOD's grace is. I got a bit carried away. I'm just really thankful that HE chose us. We're so wretched, and HE is so faithful. I got straight A's again winter semester. That's grace! There's no way I could have done that in myself. Another small example of GOD's love and grace for me. Perhaps someday I will post a blog about HIS endless mercy.  ;)   GOD IS GOOD ALL OF THE TIME!
Mood: grateful
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12:54 PM  [13 Dec 2006 | Wednesday]

STRAIGHT "A" s

After a grueling three months of commuting 90 miles round trip to school five days a week, four of those days being 12 hour days where I only got to wake my kids, then tuck them in at night, and spending time at home on the computer doing homework every day until about 3:00 a.m. , getting up at 7:00 a.m. to start it all over again, after missing too many Wednesday nights helping with the Shekinah youth group at the "Rock", after putting another 4,800 miles on my pickup truck at ten miles per gallon, after flying all the way to North Carolina for 4 days to attend a "Writers, Media, and Creative Arts Conference" to go along with my education at Clark College, after all of the hard work and research for projects, essays, term papers, and web sites built, and after hours and hours of prayer and seeking wisdom....after all of that...STRAIGHT "A"s!!!

 THANK YOU, JESUS!!!!

You know, there were many times when I just wondered if all of this time away from my family was even worth it. I am so used to being with my wife and kids as much as possible, spending as much time at home with them as I possibly can. These last 3 months were heart-wrenching at times. I love my family. The time away from them was no fun at all. It seems that all of the struggle and hard work payed off, though. I was blessed with all "A"s in all of my classes.

Of course, even more advanced Graphic Communications classes will follow in Winter quarter starting next month. I'll cross that bridge when I get to it. For now, I'm enjoying my time at home with my wife and kids. I just finished reading "The Chosen Path" by Deborah Joyner-Johnson to the kids the other night. They were riveted throughout the whole book. THAT'S what life is all about. KILL YOUR TELEVISION! Read books to your kids. Encourage them to read as well. We're starting "Shadowmancer" tonight. I'm helping my wife around the house as much as I can, also. Life is too short to ignore others.

My wife and I teach the 5th thru 8th grade class at Shekinah on Sunday mornings. If I'm just a vessel being filled up, and not sharing with others, I'm a useless vessel. What good is a gallon of nutritious milk if it just sits there, not being used. It turns, it goes bad. I don't want to turn. I don't want to go bad. If you have something to share (JESUS), then SHARE!!! Hmmm..wasn't this bulletin just about the grades I got? It's starting to sound more like a blog than a bulletin. Perhaps I'll copy and paste it in my blog as well. :)

Stoney
Mood: accomplished
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