Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Blame the Dog!


This is my dog
Sarah. She's
a Schnorkie, Schnauzer/Yorkie mix



I admit, I've wished my dog dead.

Animal lovers everywhere will now slander my blog and ridicule me.

And yet, I still admit it.

As a child, one of my favorite Bible stories was Jonah and the Whale. Now, I'll say right now it may not have been a whale. It was a big fish, but a child of course relates a big fish with a whale so…

This story of a man who didn't obey the Lord, stuck in a fish belly for 3 days until he said sorry, and then he preached God's message and everyone said sorry. Strangely, this story didn't scare me to get in the water or go out on boats, and it didn’t make me afraid of God.

I also didn't understand the story of Jonah in its entirety until I was an adult. Jonah was never afraid to go to Nineveh but I always thought that as a kid and was taught, never be afraid of what God asks you to do. Side note: Nineveh was a hopping and bopping ancient city built by the father of porn--Nimrod. Yeah, he was a sick son of a gun. Imagine what a city built by an evil man would be like.

Exactly.

Jonah wanted Nineveh to go up in flames. He wanted the people punished and that's why Jonah ran the other way.

And even when he realized there was no getting out of it, when he did go and share God's message, when the people did repent and change their ways, he was still mad.

photo credit: free digital photos
"Jonah was furious. He lost his temper. He yelled at God, "God! I knew it—when I was back home, I knew this was going to happen! That's why I ran off to Tarshish! I knew you were sheer grace and mercy, not easily angered, rich in love, and ready at the drop of a hat to turn your plans of punishment into a program of forgiveness!" Jonah 4:1-2 MSG

Jonah didn't want God to give forgiveness. The people of Nineveh didn't deserve it.

Neither did Jonah.

Neither do we.

God decided to teach Jonah a lesson (not the kind of lesson He taught with the tuna fish or whale…or some kind of big fish). Jonah took off and sat under a large tree to see what would happen to Nineveh and while sitting there, God grew a vine up and it shaded Jonah. The next day, God sent a worm to eat the vine and caused a raging east wind to blow. Basically, God took a blow dryer to Jonah's head.

And guess what? That made Jonah mad. Are we shocked? Not really.

"Then God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry about the plant?”

And he said, “It is right for me to be angry, even to death!” Jonah 4:9

Jonah was such a drama queen wasn't he? I've never been so mad I want to die. Have you? But I get the point--the intensity of anger.

And here is where I weep. Every. Time. Here is where I see the tenderness and compassion of our great God.

" But the Lord said, “You have been concerned about this plant, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. 

photo credit: free digital photos
 And should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left—and also many animals?” Jonah 4:10-11

I can relate to the people of Nineveh. Sometimes I don't know my right hand from my left. But God is concerned about me. He's in a hurry to have compassion and mercy on me.

Last week, I wrote a small passage from one of my mss. It was about a church's fall festival and one of the characters comes dressed as if she were modeling for Penthouse. Though the scene is somewhat humorous, my point came in the lines afterwards. The lines you didn't get to see. And I used something my husband said to me (though I tweaked it for the ms).

And that brings me back to wanting my dog dead.

One morning I headed to the kitchen for my coffee and across the kitchen and living room floor was chicken and bones. My dog stood there as if, "What? Who doesn't love chicken?"

I might have been mad enough to want to die. Mostly, I wanted my dog to. I went into a rant, hollering and carrying on like a total buffoon as I cleaned up her nasty mess. I looked up and my husband was casually leaning against the wall with a cup of coffee in his hand and a smirk on his face. Normally, this stance makes me swoon. This morning, I might have hoped he spilled the coffee on his bare chest.

"What?" I hissed.

"I think this might be the most you've ever spoken to the dog. A lovely way to wake up by the way." Smirk galore.

"Do you not see this disaster! Wipe the grin off your face."

And here is where he got me.

"Jess, you can't blame a dog for being a dog." He did put his coffee cup down and helped me, but his amusement made me mad enough to tell him to "just go drink your coffee. I got this."

You can't expect someone who doesn't know Jesus, to act like Jesus. Doesn't mean we let them get away with murder (literally sometimes), it just means we don't snub (then whisper to our friends) the chic in the micro-mini and wonder where her morals are.

Or turn our nose up at the woman reading an explicit novel at the pool. Maybe we should sit down and instead of telling her why she's bound for Hell, ask her what she's reading, what she likes about the story (you may discover it's not about the sex scenes at all) and then share some books we like (not necessarily screaming, "It's Christian fiction you should read it and get saved!) It could become a great chance to minister as light not as a gavel.

It means, when the Biker drops an f-bomb at the table next to us, we don't gasp for everyone to hear and hope he doesn't show up at our church. And really, what do you expect when you're eating hot wings at Hooters?

I can relate to Jonah as well as Nineveh.

It takes God's strength to help me step back and see things through His eyes--with mercy and compassion. Two things I fail at often. Probably my biggest two! Yeah, I admit it. But I've been learning and growing. Especially as I've been writing curriculum for a new and growing believers class.

No matter how I feel whether through Jonah's eyes or Nineveh's, it still boils down to one thing:

God is concerned. God wants people to know how much.

What about you? Can you relate to Jonah? Nineveh?... my dog?



53 comments:

  1. Oh yeah, I can relate to the dog, to you, to Jonah, and to Ninevah. Sigh...is it weird that I can relate to them all? It's true though. There are so many facets of me and my journey, as I'm sure is the case with everyone else. We miss the mark. We stumble. And we have a God who loves us in spite of it all.

    I love that about God.

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    1. I know! I could relate to all of them. Crazy. I love that about God too! Phew! LOL

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  2. "You can't expect someone who doesn't know Jesus, to act like Jesus." Yes! This is so true. It seems like we as Christians are trying to "fix" people before we tell them (or better yet, show them) about the saving love and grace of Jesus.

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    1. Exactly! I think we'd see so much more "fruit of our labor" if we showed vs. told (I wrote "telled" first). LOL

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  3. "You can't blame a dog for being a dog"...love:) It wasn't until I was an adult and read Jonah's story for myself that I even knew about the fig tree part--and what a change it made in the story for me. God's grace is huge and so completely not fair for any of us, and yet He gives it. We can't complain about something we ourselves receive each and every day. But sometimes I think there's a little drama queen in us all:)

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    1. I agree, we all have a little drama queen in us...some more than others! Hee hee!

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  4. Jess, I absolutely adore your posts. They make me laugh and reflect at the same time!

    I work with small children on a daily basis, and while I never wish them dead, I do have to stop and remember they are behaving this way because they are children. They don't know any different yet.

    I've come to the conclusion that I have a severe lack of grace in my life. I've become so judgmental of others and I hate it. I'm working to show more compassion instead of judgment. Jesus died for them too. It's so easy to have anger like Jonah and harder to show God's mercy. I need to take the tough road so I can be more like Jesus and less like Jonah.

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    1. Thanks, Lisa! :) I agree. I remember biting my tongue every day at lunch when one of my three year olds spilled the milk. They're three. That's what they do.

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  5. Yes! I can relate to all of the above, and love your message here. Show don't tell is a rule we can use in real life, not just our writing :)

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    1. An excellent point you make! Showing and telling! :) Thanks for hanging out, Cindy!

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  6. First, your dog looks scared to death in that picture. Probably of you. :P

    Second, this is a beautiful post. Poignant. Such truth that is so easily missed. Why do we expect people who are sick to act like they are well? We hold others who don't have Jesus to the same standard as ourselves--but that's completely unfair. We should be concerned with introducing them to Jesus, and yet how often do we likely turn them away with our judgments? We are Jesus's representatives. So when they see us, do they see judgment or love? If the first, then that's what they see Jesus as: someone who merely wants to control their lives and change them, take away the sins they take pleasure in. But if they see the latter, then it changes everything.

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    1. That wasn't fear, it was neurotic behavior. LOL Actually, she may have been freaked since I actually called her to me. That rarely happens. She probably thought, "What? You didn't have chicken last night!"

      I love your insight, sweet one! :)

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  7. Wow what a great post. It's so true! To love on people the way Jesus did. I love the examples that you gave. I think when we try and take matters into our own hands we often make it more difficult for God to work in a person's heart. Sometimes all we need to do is show compassion and show the love of Jesus and the truth will work it's way in.

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    1. Morning, Joanne! I love how you say if we show the love, the truth will work its way in. That's perfect! And so true! :)

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  8. This past weekend was the annual festival in my town. After the parade (which we walked in) I brought the kids home for a nap and then we all went down to the park for the talent show because my sweet girls and nieces wanted to sing in it. From the moment we walked into the park I was shocked and overwhelmed with the humanity there. When my eleven year old niece got up to sing a Christian worship song I almost cringed for her - I imagined tomatoes careening towards the stage and boos hissing her off. Instead she received a roaring applause and won third place in her division. I was so proud of her. But when we came home, my heart was heavy and I cried for the pain I had witnessed in so many spirits. Your blog reminds me that they cannot behave like Jesus if they don't know Jesus and I can't turn my nose up at them, I need to keep on loving them and reaching out to help. The things of the spirit are foolishness to those who do not have the spirit. Thanks for this post.

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    1. People are hungry for God, they just don't realize it! Who knows how many people your niece touched and the seeds she sowed! :)

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  9. Jess, I cannot say how much I love your heart for God, the way you listen to Him, and the way you openly learn from then share when you fall short. We all fall short and have dog moments. Your beautiful words reminded me, "You can't expect someone who doesn't know Jesus, to act like Jesus." I needed that reminder today and am so thankful for you, my Friend. Hugs!

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    1. Love you, FIEND! I treasure your support and encouragement. You just don't even know! :)

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  10. I agree with Donna. I can't even tell you how profound this post is. I feel like it should be required reading for every single person who calls themselves a follower of Christ.

    You, my dear, have been given a gift from God. So much wisdom and insight!

    These lines especially:
    "You can't expect someone who doesn't know Jesus, to act like Jesus. Doesn't mean we let them get away with murder (literally sometimes), it just means we don't snub (then whisper to our friends) the chic in the micro-mini and wonder where her morals are."

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    1. Thank you, Katie! Your encouragement was mucho needed and appreciated. Thanks for tweeting and posting the blog to facebook. Love you, girl!

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  11. Oh my gosh, I got mental whiplash reading this--going back and forth between laughing my head off and intensely amening. In fact, I may have gotten real whiplash from all the nodding.

    Also, I love that you call Jonah a drama queen. LOL!

    For real, the message of this is so good. We can't expect people who don't know Jesus to be like Jesus. We especially can't expect people who don't know Jesus to act like Jesus when WE aren't acting like Jesus. Profound stuff, Jess!!

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    1. You crack me up! Whether in your blogs or in your comments and tweets! LOL

      Dude, he so was a drama queen! ha!

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  12. Too funny! I have owned dogs that did what your doggie did...and much worse. So I know where you are coming from!!

    I can also identify more with Jonah than with oh, let's say, Daniel for instance? (wink, wink!)

    I am surrounded at work with ladies who are reading that book (50 Shades of Grey) and are also professing Christians. What do I say to them? I just sigh, and ask why they are reading the book. When they ask me if I have read it, I just say I don't need to.

    But you are right, we Christians tend to judge the world and we are clearly told in the Bible not to judge them, but to take the gospel to them.

    With love.

    Great post today!!

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    1. We were both on the Bible character wave today weren't we! Loved your post! Dogs. All we can do is tolerate them. LOL

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  13. First of all, your hubs sounds WAY cute. *grin* I love this post and completely agree.

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  14. There was a photo of a church sign going the rounds on FB recently that really convicted me. It said: Don't judge others just because they sin differently than you.

    Gulp.

    So guilty.

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    1. I saw that! It was profound and so true. Ouch for sure!

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  15. Sometimes judging is the sneakiest sin. It comes disguised as so many other things.

    Your husband's reaction to the dog (just being a dog) can be applied to kids being kids as well.

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    1. So true, LD! Although, I seem to want my kids to act like adults at times. I need that reminder every now and again that kids do kid things and kid things are usually stupid! LOL

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  16. Fabulous post and a great reminder not to judge!

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    1. Thanks, Stacy! Hey are you coming to ACFW?

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  17. Such an awesome post, Jess.

    I believe God has put it on my heart to write stories directed to the people on the fence about their faith...not so much the ones who already know Jesus. I hope my writing inspires them to want to know Him better.

    Your dog is such a sweetie!

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    1. I would be happy to ship my dog over to you! JK! :) Thank you, Loree!

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  18. Some of this sounds awfully close to what stuck out to me as I was reading about Samuel as a child. The Bible says he didn't recognize God's voice because God hadn't yet revealed himself to Samuel personally. We can't fault someone for not following God's ways when the Holy Spirit hasn't revealed them!

    Great post!

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  19. This was jaw-droppingly amazing. Wow. All I got is.. WOW.

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  20. Woooo, Jess. You knocked it out of the park with this one.

    My hubby has said those EXACT words to me, btw. "You can't blame the dog for being a dog." I only wish I had applied them like this, too.

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    1. Husbands always have good advice, don't they? Okay maybe that's a stretch! LOL Thanks, Jennifer!

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  21. second post i read about a pet...maybe i should see what my dogs might teach me! i love this!!!

    so nice to meet you :)

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    1. Let me know what they say! Nice meeting you too. Thanks for coming by! :)

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  22. Love that -- "you can't blame a dog for being a dog". We do judge the lost unfairly, don't we? Great food for thought :-)

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  23. Great post! You're so right! We aren't called to judge, especially those outside the faith. We're called to love. Just like our Lord did when He told the prostitute, "Neither do I condemn you." Thanks for the reminder!

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    1. Hey Marji! Perfect example. I love that story!

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  24. One of your best posts ever.
    True.
    Honest.
    And now I know your husband smirks.
    But really, Jess, thanks for the slap upside the head.
    I shouldn't be so surprised when I act like me ... and when other people are just being them.
    And God offers grace to me and them.

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    1. Thank you, Beth. And yep, he's a smirker more than a smiler. :)

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  25. Jessica, chicken is my dog's favorite thing in the universe! Bring home a Costco rotisserie hen and she'd be happy to swallow it whole, much like Jonah's fish-on-steroids, or whatever that was. Can't let pooches have chicken bones though, so I'm glad your dog didn't actually die. I'm also glad you wrote this thought-provoking post.

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    1. Gary, thanks so much for coming by today and reading the blog. Yeah, we were lucky she didn't choke on that bone. My kids would have been destroyed.

      Fish on steroids. LOL Good one! :)

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  26. Great post, Jess! I can relate to you and your dog - as I cleaned up vomit and some other things my cat left behind this morning. I can't say I wished for her demise, but I certainly didn't enjoy cleaning up the mess! Must admit I'm on the judgmental/Pharisee side of the fence more often than the grace/mercy side. I still have a lot to learn and even more to live out! Have a blessed week, my friend!

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