Tag Archives: dogs

What’s Holding You Back?

A while after our beloved standard poodle, Margaux, passed away, we knew it was time for another dog. However, we just didn’t have it in us to train up another puppy. An opportunity presented itself for us to rescue a four-year-old male standard poodle. And so, Remy entered our lives. When he came to live with us, we immediately noticed a lack of muscle tone and instability at times. Remy was also unable to stand on his hind legs when we supported his front legs on our shoulders. We learned Remy was confined for long periods during his early years.

What about us? How often do we put ourselves in chains? Or, confine and hold ourselves back?

What are the chains in your life holding you back?

  • Fear—you don’t want to appear foolish or you don’t want to fail
  • Insecurity—you allow negative thoughts or a poor self-image to dictate your actions
  • Circumstances—you’re busy with family or your job is demanding or the children are too young
  • Lack—you cave in to your perception of inadequate ability, education, or resources
  • Time pressures—or is it just plain laziness?

Those excuses also place the blame on someone or something else rather than squarely on our shoulders. And, we allow our excuses to cage us in and restrain us, not allowing the Lord to use us.

Scripture offers an alternative response which we glean from the imprisonment of the Apostle Paul. Imprisoned several times, including in Rome from approximately AD 60-62, Paul considered himself an ambassador in chains (Ephesians 6:20). Acts 28:16 informs us soldiers guarded Paul, and verse 20 states, “I am bound with this chain.” The custom at that time was to bind a short length of chain to both the wrist of the prisoner and the wrist of a soldier—thus providing no means of escape.

Shackled at the wrist to a guard, enduring beatings, along with his physical limitations, Paul did not allow these circumstances to hold him back. He used this situation to promote the gospel.

Philippians 1:12-14 (NIV) describes Paul acknowledging his chains with furthering the kingdom, “Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly.”

During that era, it was common practice to write letters with the assistance of a scribe. Envision Paul sending for a scribe, pacing in his cell while chained to his guard, with the clanging of chains, as he’s dictating his letters. During his imprisonment in Rome, Paul wrote what are known as “The Prison Epistles”—letters to the Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon. Even though Paul dictated his letters to a scribe, he wrote the final greetings, a trademark of his letters, in his own hand. Imagine the reverberating clink and clank of Paul’s chain, tethering him to a guard, as he clumsily signed his letters. Letters that would be added to the canon of Scripture.

Remy’s previous owners had held him back, and our hearts filled with joy when we watched him running in the back yard, playing fetch, and growing stronger every day. He just needed release from the captivity of a cage.

Father God, Allow me to make the most of what I have and not allow excuses to constrain me. I don’t want chains holding me back any longer. Please use me Lord. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Bible Truths:

Colossians 4:18 (NIV): “I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand. Remember my chains. Grace be with you.”

2 Timothy 1:7 (NIV): “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.”

2 Timothy 2:9a-10 (NIV): “But God’s word is not chained. Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.”

© 2017 APearlofGreatValue.org. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Archived Devotions, Summer 2017

A Sip Won’t Quench

Perched on the rim of the birdbath the little bird took tiny, delicate sips of water. Reflecting on what I was seeing, my thoughts shifted to my friend’s dog, Angus, deliberately plunging his whole head into his water bowl and delightedly slurping it all up.bucket-999973_640 lg font Angus’s technique was sloppy, but he delved in with gusto, while the bird gingerly took a meager amount of water. Is this how we approach taking in God’s Word? Are we reading just a small snippet of scripture here and there or are we drenching ourselves in the Bible?

We’ll never be able to confront the crazy world we live in if we don’t surround ourselves in His Word. “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the [woman] of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17, NIV) Life is difficult and today’s culture continually shifts what truth is. We no longer hold veracity in high esteem. Our world is blurred; borders defining right and wrong are hazy. How is a woman of faith able to take her stand and live her life admirably?

Only by saturating ourselves in God’s Word will we be able to discern truth.

Then, we can apply Godly principles and live them out.

Immersing yourself in scripture can, at times, get messy. God’s Word will penetrate our souls, which often means we will need to clean things up in our lives. “For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.” (Hebrews 4:12, NLT) When the Word infiltrates and reveals those things about ourselves we’d rather keep below the surface, it’s painful. But this is where God’s cleansing power can take place.

Researchers tell us when a dog gulps water, their tongue acts as a ladle. I imagine myself taking in God’s Word just like a dog’s tongue laps up water. Going even further, backsplash inundates dogs when they drink. It’s like a flood. I choose bathing myself in God’s Word as I go forth each day to live it to the fullest. The only way I’ll know the Word is by immersing myself in the Word.

Father God, Help me to surround myself in your Holy Word. I need to consume all the truths your Word reveals in order to go in the direction you desire for me. Please empower me to take in, absorb, and apply your Word in my life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Bible Truths:

“Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.” (Romans 10:17, NIV)

“For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.” (Romans 15:4, NIV)

“I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” (Psalm 119:11, NIV)

“Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.” (Psalm 119:105, NLT)

© 2016 APearlofGreatValue.org. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Archived Devotions, Summer 2016

In Memoriam

10520884851191CDPMargaux, our beautiful red standard poodle, passed away on Easter weekend. It was unexpected and quick. Cancer is like that. There’s a hole in our hearts, but the prayers of good friends are sustaining us. God is so gracious in providing animals for us for companionship, but it’s tough when you have to let go.

January 26, 2005 to March 26, 2016.

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Filed under Archived Blog Posts, Spring 2016

I Love My Dog

She’s an affectionate red standard poodle, and even though many describe that breed as “high maintenance” and “self-absorbed,” our dog means the world to us.10520884851181CDP We have always enjoyed long walks with her, but she is now 11 years old and we see the signs of her aging, so accordingly we’ve had to slow down our pace and shorten the walks to accommodate her. Reflecting on this, I wonder about some of the people the Lord has put in my path. Am I being too hasty with them? Do I show sensitivity and reflect concern when it comes to their emotional, physical, and spiritual needs? Sometimes I just need to slow down for others and go at their pace. I don’t want to risk running past others, or even worse, running them over.

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Filed under Archived Blog Posts, Winter 2016