Attendees and staff at the Adult Day Care in Chester, SC welcomed the message of pets as partners who help us gain understanding of great truths from God today! The Velveteen Rabbit, a book written in 1922 presents a beautiful message of ‘becoming real’ through the bumps and bruises of life. Combining snippets from the book with truths in the Word, the love of God was celebrated around the room. Sharing stories of hard times that revealed the faithfulness of God, we celebrated together Christ’s example of embracing rejection with unconditional love.
The weather–and not yet fully trained pets–hindered the presence of real-life animals…but not the participation of animals. Many shared stories of their own beloved pets and a bag of stuffed bunnies (donated by Christ Central Ministries) stayed to offer bunny love to any in need. The reality that pets help bring the words we know in our heads to loving feelings in our hearts was loud and clear.
Heartsong Pets is on the calendar for a devotion in late August. If you would like to know more about participating, let me know! Miss Pat has agreed to play, “It is Well With My Soul” next time.
Therapy Dog training classes continue. We are tentatively scheduled for this Sunday at 3 pm.
I was asked by a friend to do a Book Review. I’ve done a few before; they are easy. Read and give a summary of the content to help folks determine if the book is a good fit for them. This book was different. It was so good, I couldn’t just ‘read it.’ Abby Kelly, the author, helps readers journey into the amazing depths (heights) of growing in the fullness of Jesus Christ. I so thoroughly enjoyed it, I wanted to share the review with all of you. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the book. I used it more as a devotional than a Bible Study–and plan to do it again!
Whether your salvation took place today or decades ago, this book is a Holy-Spirit crafted tool that will deepen your maturity. Abby Kelly clearly partnered with the Spirit in writing this book. Expanding the definition of maturity to incredible depths, the study clears a path for believers to walk upon.
Exploring maturity as a key to unity, Abby builds a beautiful case for pressing into the design of God. Moving on to the topic of humility and then moving on to masterfully balance grace and law, the guide helps believers march forward to freedom. This study guide provides disciples with an awesome journey; I will be taking the journey again.
Kelly carefully closes the study by leading the reader to explore the depths of a love-powered, spirit-filled walk that produces for eternity. Beyond Belief is the study every Christian needs to live the life Jesus intends for us to live!
The foundation of obedience is trust. In our first session of Heartsong Pet Dog Training, we built on this truth:
Obedience to the call of God requires that we trust Him more than we trust ourselves.
In that first session, we covered basic obedience training concepts:
- Responding to name – a call to Attention
- Exercising impulse control – a call for restraint
- Accepting “No.”
- Sit – a default position while waiting for further instruction
We built on our foundation with the truth of an ‘old saying:’
The life of faith is well described as a
‘long obedience in one direction.’
Session two on our way to Pet Therapy Teams brought us to these points of obedience:
- Responding to their name when competing interests ‘called’. The walk of faith increases in difficulty when things we really like compete for God’s attention. Obedience overcomes the temptation–and response to the name happens!
- Moving from an ATTENTION command to a CORRECTION command, we practiced “Leave it.” This is an exercise to teach making good choices. Leave it is practiced with things that are enticing…obedience calls to a higher choice.
- OUCH! Dogs really do not know we are not one of them. They are made for biting and chewing upon. We are not. Dramatic exclamations of pain help them learn to stop behaviors that harm us. They want to please; we have to help them understand–just like God does for us.
- Stay or Wait. Do you not hate waiting?! Stay is taught in a two-step process. First, we ask our pet to stay while we are with them–just moving a few feet away. Then, we move farther out. God does the same. In the early stages of our faith-walk, we need constant assurance and blessings to keep us going. As we grow in obedience, we may be called to endure some times of waiting. Distractions are a key factor in this…anything that draws the focus of our pet will require us to move closer to the pet. That’s a pretty good faith recommendation too. The busier we are, the more we need face time with Jesus!
- Come! Taught in much the same way as Stay!, the distance and distractions work in relationship. Come is not the same as Name Response. With Name, we want attention–but perhaps not running to us. Name is to elicit a stop and look; come means ‘draw near.’
I’d love to hear how your training–and trusting–is growing!
“Obedience is really just getting your dog to trust your judgment more than its own.” Wally Wimmer, Last Straw Dog Training
Heartsong Pets continues toward developing therapy dogs to bless our community! Our heart desire is to help our pets honor the intent of St. Francis of Asissi when he said, “Preach the Gospel at all times–and if necessary, use words.” Below you will find an overview of the steps we are following to help our dogs. But I can’t help but see how it relates to walking out a life of faith.
For me, learning to obey the commands of God is exactly the same. The Word of God is a loving letter of instruction from our Heavenly Father. He never makes rules to hear Himself talk or rob of us of pleasure. God gives rules that we might understand what His heart looks like. We will never understand until we choose to obey.
The privilege and power of choice is easily overlooked. As parents, our job is to offer choices to our children that are fit for their maturity level. Our goal is that they will learn to exercise their right to choose with wisdom that comes along with increased knowledge. Children who never learn to think for themselves and exercise choice become adults who are easily led astray. Treasuring choice actually leads us to obedience. God gave choice to humanity because it is the only path to fully understanding the greatness of God.
Choice is a divine privilege. Robbing humanity of choice is the work of the devil. There is an interesting dynamic of evil that hides itself well. The temptation to reject restraint actually leads to total bondage. Addiction is the perfect example. Choosing to drink or drug is a decision each individual can make…stopping becomes increasingly harder. Choosing not to surrender to God is a choice one can make…but the sound of His loving call becomes fainter with each step away. The arms of God remain open to all who will heed His call to come, though! The option to choose God remains as long as His breath is in our body!
Obedience to His call is trusting Him more than we trust ourselves.
Heartsong Pet – Training Session One
- Teach the name as a command. When the name is called, the response should be immediate.
- No is also a critical command. Clear instruction when a behavior is not desired matters.
- Sit is a command that becomes an efficient ‘base of operations’ for later commands.
- Nap (rest or wait) is a command that assists with impulse control.
Session Two will focus on playing together…fun, productive games to build bonds with our pet pals!
Understanding the inter-play of the body, soul and spirit is so exciting. If you click the “Triune” link below, you will a PDF file that offers some insights. The human body is wonderfully made–and the choices we make (physical, mental and inter-personal) impact every other part of the body. I’d love to dialog about the things you see as you look over the page and consider its implications in your own life.