Monday, February 1, 2016

Lessons from Dogs

By Hayley Boud

Last Sunday service, Robbie mentioned that we usually talk about the things we love and when we really love something, we can’t stop talking about it.  I joked and said that is why I always talk about my dog.  It was a joke but I it made me think about all the lessons I can learn from dogs.


  1. Loyal. 
A dog will die for its owner.  We need to be loyal to Jesus and to each other.

  1. Obedient. 
The best dogs are those that obey you without thinking about it.  Generally speaking right handed dogs will obey without thinking and left handed dogs will try to think what will please you rather than just listening to your command.  My dog is left handed and it is frustrating.

The other day I kept asking him to “shake” (he knows the command shake very well) but instead of just listening, he tried to think what will make me happy and kept lying down instead.  He thought because I had a tennis ball in my hand, I wanted him to lie down and roll over.  So he kept doing that and I kept saying, “no, shake”.  It got very annoying. 

He does it all the time.  Walking along the river and I see a cyclist and I say, “stay”.  He usually looks at the cyclist and realises why I’m saying stay and is clever enough to realise that I really mean, “stay away from the cyclist” so he doesn’t stay but carries on walking.  It works out fine because I can trust him not to get in the cyclists way but it would be better if he could just listen to me and “stay”.

This frustration must be how God feels when He tells us what to do but we think we know what will please God and go ahead and do something else.  Maybe God is asking Hayley to be the toilet cleaner at a small church in Hamilton but Hayley thinks God will be more pleased if Hayley goes to Africa as a missionary. 

Mathew 7:21-23, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’  And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’

Everybody wants glory roles with excitement but some of us are simply asked to do the dishes and not perform miracles or be prophets or preachers.

  1. Good at greeting
Dogs are always happy to see you and you feel so welcomed and loved when you come home.  We need to show others that we are happy to see them, greet them with warmth and love.  Let others know you care for them.  Don’t show a grumpy face or complain the moment they walk in. 

  1. Good listeners
Dogs listen very carefully and they don’t interrupt.  They don’t judge you and they don’t care if you make mistakes.  They don’t care what colour you are, or how rich you are, or how much money you earn, or what job you have.  Dogs love you regardless.

  1. Trusting
Dogs fully trust you and I think it is important that we trust God and trust one another.

  1. Live in packs
Dogs are not like cats that prefer to live alone.  Dogs need each other.  We as Christians need each other also.  It’s better to live together as we read in Ecclesiastes.

  1. A dog returns to its vomit
In Proverbs 26:11, we are told that a dog returns to its vomit.  This is very true.  We used to have a foster dog called Tammy that would vomit in the back of the car every time she went for a ride in the car.  I would hear it, then smell it and quickly pull over but by the time I opened the door, she would have already cleaned up the mess (eaten it).  It used to make me feel very sick. 

Even worse was when another dog (Shiko) vomited and then Tammy ate it.  Shiko barked at Tammy to tell her to stop (it was almost as though Shiko wanted to eat it and she was telling Tammy off).  We all felt very sick when we saw that but Tammy was so fast, we couldn’t stop her.

I’m sure you are all feeling very sick right now thinking about how disgusting dogs are for eating vomit.  That disgusted feeling must be how God feels when we return to our old ways.  Our old ways that we vomited from us and no longer belong to us, but we decide to go back and eat. 

2 Peter 2:21-22, “For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment handed on to them. It has happened to them according to the true proverb, “A dog returns to its own vomit,” and, “A sow, after washing, returns to wallowing in the mire.”

We have to be careful not to return to our old ways.  If we gave up anger, don’t go back to it.  If we gave up jealousy, don’t go back to it.  We also have to be careful not to be led astray by our friends who are eating the vomit we removed from ourselves.  If our friends are gossiping or telling rude jokes, don’t join in.  Be careful not to return to our old lifestyle.

If our friends vomit on us, don’t eat it like Tammy did.  If our friends hurt us then flush the vomit down the toilet, don’t hold onto it.

  1. Rolling in bad smells
Whenever I walk my dog down the river, he always finds a dead, rotten fish to roll around in.  When he is finished, he absolutely stinks and there is nothing that removes that smell.  It is horrendous.  I can shampoo him three times, rub lemon juice on him, baking soda, citrus oils but there is nothing that will remove the smell of rotten fish and it stays for days. 

I remember when Odon first came to New Zealand and he was advising us on prayer and fasting.  He said that if there is one person who has sinned among us, the smell to God is like rotten fish and that rotten fish will permeate through the whole group.  That will destroy our prayer. 

We often enjoy the sin, just like my dog enjoys rolling in the rotten fish but the consequence is separation from God.  When my dog stinks, I don’t want him to come close to me.   

Isaiah 59:1-2, “Behold, the Lord’s hand is not so short that it cannot save; Nor is His ear so dull that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, And your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear”.

When we sin, we are a bad smell to God and there is nothing that will take away that smell, except the blood of Jesus.  There is only one cure if we want to be cleaned from our sin, to ask for forgiveness.

  1. Will eat almost anything
Tammy would literally eat anything.  One time we gave her and Shiko a courgette each from the garden.  Tammy ate it while Shiko sniffed the courgette, looked at Tammy and then looked at the courgette and looked at Shiko.  It was almost like Shiko was saying, “Tammy, I don’t think this is food”.  But Tammy ate it all up and then ate Shiko’s.  We have to do the same with the Word of God.  It is all to be eaten, not just the parts that we enjoy.

I have seen my dog eating cat poo, possum poo and duck poo.  Yet, the other day when I tried to give him banana, he sniffed it and then looked at me as if to say, “That’s not food”.  I can’t get my head around that.  Why would you prefer to eat poo over banana?  The banana is good for you. 

We humans are sometimes like that with God’s messages.  We only want the ones that tickle our ears or make us feel good.  One time, I heard a message in a baptist church in Auckland that there was no hell.  This message is poo!
There are other messages that we would not consider poo (such as messages on love and blessings) and we need these messages but we also need the messages that are hard to digest.  Such as:

Luke 17:4, Even if they sin against you 7 times in a day, you must forgive.

Mathew 5:39, If someone slaps you on the right cheek, give them your left cheek.

Ephesians 5:22-24, Wives submit to your husbands

Mathew 5:44, Pray for your enemies

  1. Barking
Dogs will bark when there is a danger.  This can be very helpful to the owner but also very annoying to the neighbours.  We used to have a neighbour who would come outside every night at midnight to have a cigarette.  She would stand by our fence and smoke.  Our dog thought that was a danger so he would bark.  Every night I would have to come out and get my dog to stop barking and every night the neighbour would abuse me for my barking dog.  She would even use the F-word.

The person to blame for the barking was blaming me while it wasn’t my fault.  If she just smoked somewhere else, the dog wouldn’t bark but because she wasn’t ready to listen, I couldn’t explain it to her.  Sometimes, we Christians are like that.  We are the ones to blame but we are not ready to listen.  I blame those around me when it’s actually me at fault.  Very often we don’t recognise we are the ones to blame.  E.g. my husband is very annoying but the Bible says love is not easily provoked.

  1.  Dog exposed by the light won’t sin
A few weeks ago, there was a documentary about dogs where they showed an experiment.  They had a light that shone on the dog and the owner and between the two was food.  The owner told the dog not to touch the food and while it could see the owner watching him, the dog obeyed.  Then the experimenters turned off all the lights.  The dog quietly stole the food and when the lights turned back on, the dog looked innocent, “I don’t know what happened to the food”.

Then the experimenters turned the light off the owner and the dog but left the light on the food.  The dog couldn’t see the owner but knew the owner was there.  The dog did not touch the food because he knew, in order to do so, he would have to come into the light and he would be caught.  All the dogs in the experiment kept still and didn’t come into the light.

How true of us humans.  We won’t come into the light to be exposed when we sin.  We prefer to sin in darkness where no one will see us. 

1 John 1:7, “but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin”.

Let’s live in the light.  We can’t hide from God anyway, He can still see us just like we could see the dogs with the night vision cameras.  Let’s live a life that makes God proud.

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