Category Archives: Animals

Beware: Fierce lions in my yard

cat-2536662_1920“A man generally has two reasons for doing a thing.  One that sounds good, and a real one.”

That’s from the practical wisdom of J.P. Morgan, one of most influential bankers of the early 20th century. 

Of course, then there are those who are a bit more honest about their motivation, like Phyllis Diller:

“Housework can’t kill you, but why take a chance?”

On the one hand:

A prudent person foresees danger and takes precautions.
    The simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences.

On the other hand:

The lazy person claims, “There’s a lion out there!
    If I go outside, I might be killed!”

Why is one cautious person congratulated for being prudent while the other is vilified as a three-toed sloth?

It really all has to do with motive. 

The prudent (wise, forward-thinking) one “foresees”, meaning he’s diligently done his research and understands the probabilities (are lions endemic to this area?), and based on those probabilities, he may take his gun out with him and search the area before proceeding. 

The lazy person, by contrast, stays on the coach and opens another beer…because that’s what he really prefers to do.  Making excuses for his decision assuages his own conscience, regardless of how ridiculous those excuses seem.

In fact, humans are probably the only part of God’s creation who uses the art of rationalization, that finely tuned skill of making excuses, even deluding ourselves into thinking those excuses are true.  

Here’s interesting application: “I don’t read the Bible because I don’t understand it.”

I’m glad medical students don’t adhere to that philosophy: “I don’t read my A&P text because I don’t understand it.”  A student—a real one, that is—does something about their lack of understanding. 

And for my sake, I’m glad they do!

Proverbs 22:3,13  Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

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Teenage bedroom–hard hat required.

kids-2030268_1920When our youngest went to Peru on a month-long mission trip right before high school, I decided I would take advantage of her absence to clean her room.  Thoroughly.  As in a full-scale geological excavation. 

I found a full laundry basket, only it was stratified with layers of clean, dirty, clean, etc. I unearthed underwear from elementary school, and (if I recall rightly) a hard, green mass under the bed reputed to be petrified Jello—lime, I think.  Continue reading


Puppaccinos and Mercy

A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast: but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel. -Proverbs 12:10, KJV

Mickey loves his Puppaccino, even when he gets stuck.

I love my dogs. We even sometimes call them our “fur babies.” Sometimes I spoil them with a trip to the coffee shop that has Puppaccinos for dogs (whipped cream with dog biscuits on top). I feel bad when they do not get their regularly timed walks or step on a sharp rock or hot asphalt during those walks.

Even though I love these guys, if my wife or another human were in trouble, I would choose the human over them.

Have Mercy

Some people, however, only view animals as property, at best. Their idea of mercy on their dogs is not kicking them very hard or remembering to feed them today.

Oftentimes, these are people who tend to treat many humans similarly. Whether it is being verbally abusive, deceptive, or simply not caring, this type of person would rather record you having a problem than help you.

This thinking infects most of us in some way, ever since the beginning when Cain asked God about Abel, “Am I my brothers keeper?” In other words, “How is this my problem? What has it to do with me?”

Jesus turned this thinking on its head, most notably in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5). To be fondly and righteous means to make others’ problems our own. It means not thinking too highly of oneself, but as a servant to others. It means having compassion and showing mercy on others.

It might even mean caring about what happens to animals. (But always in regards to human life.)


Safely across to dry ground

buckley

The Mighty Wonder Buck enjoying his outing.

Buckley and I enjoy terrain hiking in a tiny semi-secluded patch of the planet belonging to the college where my husband works.  It’s private land, so I’m thinking the town’s leash laws are not in effect. It’s also one of the few places I can let him range, and he loves it!

So do I.  Not only for myself, but I get such a kick out of watching him enjoy the freedom, and I marvel at the sure-footedness of this rescue pound-puppy of ours.  Not that I can say that about myself, mind you.  No, this one carries a walking stick, wears special insoles in trail running shoes (in which I walk, not run), and even then I have to pick carefully through leaves and creek beds, using that opposable thumb to grab and hoist myself up the hills.

Buckley, the barefoot creature without the opposable thumb?  Right.  He leaves me in the dust. 

I have to be especially attentive when crossing a brook.  Picking my way safely can be challenging (it’s part of the fun), and watching for slippery moss on the rocks is imperative.  If I’m not careful, I’m all wet. 

Hold that thought for a sec.

Proverbs chapter ten is largely concerned with my words, which is a pretty good indicator of what’s in my heart.  Here is a running commentary contrasting the attitude (as shown by their words) of the wise person versus the fool.  Just a sampling—

The wise are glad to be instructed,
    but babbling fools fall flat on their faces…

People with integrity walk safely,…

This isn’t just an observation, (Solomon was quite good at that), but more importantly, a warning.  It’s easy to be drawn into a foolish argument; that is, an argument that is void of the primary foundation of wisdom—

“Fear of the Lord is the foundation of wisdom.
    Knowledge of the Holy One results in good judgment.”

Without this, the encounter can become slippery at best, treacherous at worst, causing confusion, rancor, and division (to name a few.)

Here’s another comparison—

The words of the godly are a life-giving fountain;

…but the babbling of a fool invites disaster.

Are my words giving life?  Or are my words making safe passage unattainable?

Or is it a discussion I should even enter into at this place?

When one of these conversations presents itself, the godly participant does well to stand on the shore and survey how to get across safely to the other side. 

Otherwise, you’re all wet.

Proverbs 10:8,9,11,14; 9:10 Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.


Safe In the Rock

Proverbs 30:24, 26

“There be four things which are little upon the earth, but they are exceeding wise: … The conies are but a feeble folk, yet make they their houses in the rocks;”

Conies

The conies are second in the list  “four (little) things” that are exceedingly wise. But what is a coney? Is it a hot dog found on Long Island, New York? Possibly, but only if a legless wiener is capable of wisdom. These conies in this proverb seem to have a defense against being eaten with mustard – they hide in the rocks.

HyraxThe animal described here is the hyrax, or rock badger (no relation to the kind that can chew off your arm). Found in Africa and the Middle East, these cute little critters, weighing an average of 8 lbs., are scavengers which live in groups of 8 to 10 and find refuge in the cracks and crevices of rocky terrain. Though scientists say the hyrax is a close relative to the elephant (it even has tiny little tusks – how cute!), this furry little animal is practically defenseless…at least on its own.

Their Defense System

Even though hyraxes are small, weak, and incapable of fighting off a predator, they are not on the endangered species list. Why is that? The answer lies in where they make their homes – in the rocks – and how they look out for each other.

Being small and rather slow, the hyraxes in Africa are preyed upon by other animals such as wild dogs, leopards, and Egyptian cobras. However, it seems that the conies in Israel, like the ones of which Solomon spoke, have learned how to use the rocks to their advantage, along with a “system of sentries.”

 “In Israel, the rock hyrax is reportedly rarely preyed upon by terrestrial predators, as their system of sentries and their reliable refuges provide considerable protection. Hyrax remains are almost absent from the droppings of wolves in the Judean Desert.” (Wickipedia)

Is it any wonder why Solomon called the conies (hyraxes) “exceeding wise?” Knowing the danger posed by wolves and the like, the defenseless animals band together, watch over each other, and run to the rocks any time there is a threat.

Our Defense

One would have to be blind to miss the parallels here. Why do so many fools fall victim to the ravenous wolves of the world? Their bones are found scattered across the sands of time because they ventured out alone, without the watchful eyes of others, and without the defense available in the true Rock of Ages, Jesus Christ.

Why won’t more people heed the wisdom of Proverbs? Why do so many of us continue to be eaten alive by the enemy when there is a Rock in which to run and hide?

“OH! Rock of Ages, hide thou me!”


Beyond Me

Proverbs 30:18-19

“There be three things which are too wonderful for me, yea, four which I know not: The way of an eagle in the air; the way of a serpent upon a rock; the way of a ship in the midst of the sea; and the way of a man with a maid.”

Too Wonderful?

In this modern age, there are a lot of wonders to behold. The majority of those wonders consist of man-made technologies that capture and hold our attention only as long as they are new. Once the newness is gone and another gadget or upgrade hit the market (which is about every thirty seconds), the “wonderful” suddenly becomes boring and old.

Is there anything in this world that is made by man that is “too wonderful” to understand? For some people, the answer would be “yes.” For example, I will probably never understand how a person can manage to play a whole symphony on a horn with just three valves, much less how a rocket gets to the moon and back. But anything that is made by man can be understood by man, duplicated, and marketed. And once something is fully understood, the awe is gone.

Yes, Too Wonderful!

However, there are some things, no matter how much we learn, that will still be “too wonderful,” so much so that it will elude the wisest men alive (or ever lived). Not even the writer of this proverb could figure these things out.

Some things seem simple on the surface, but wind up far more complicated and intricate once we begin to examine them more closely. But even when we figure out the mechanics of some things, we later realize that there is a “way” about them that defies explanation: the way of a soaring eagle; the grace of a serpent moving across a rock; how a little boat survives in the midst of the sea; how ugly men attract beautiful women (Seriously!).

There are some things that are just beyond me, and I’m glad.


The Stinky House Connection

Proverbs 30:10

“Accuse not a servant unto his master, lest he curse thee, and thou be found guilty.”

My Story

The following story is not a perfect example of Proverbs 30:10, but it is close. Let me tell it to you, after which I will try to make a connection.

A little more than a decade ago I was an insurance agent for a large, well-known life and health insurance company. My primary job was selling life insurance, which sometimes required I simply knock on doors in search of new clients.

One day, as I was canvassing a neighborhood, I came to a house and immediately smelled a very strong, nauseous odor, accompanied by the loud barking of dogs inside. The odor coming from inside the house was so bad it made me worry something was terribly wrong.

I left the house, continued to knock on doors close by, but inquired of neighbors if they had recently seen the homeowner coming or going. None had, which led one neighbor to tell me he’d ask another neighbor, a policeman, to go check things out. I did not stay, but went on my way, returning to my office a few hours later.

Upon arriving at my office in Nashville, Tennessee, I was immediately called into a meeting. My sales manager was very angry and began berating me for “sticking my nose where it didn’t belong.” Come to find out, the one living in the house that stunk was alive and well and very upset that the police had paid him a visit. The resident demanded that I be reprimanded for invading his privacy and causing him trouble.

After several minutes of being yelled at, I was told to go to my desk and stay out of other people’s business.

The Rescue

I went back to my cubicle feeling completely defeated. I had only tried to be a good citizen, but now I was about to lose my job! Just then I received a phone call…it was the father of the man living in the house…the father of the man who wanted me to be fired.

“Are you the one who visited the house on _______ Street?” asked the man on the phone. “Yessir,” I answered. “And did my son call your boss and get you in trouble?” he asked. “Yes, sir, he did,” I replied.

“Son, my boy has been nothing but trouble for me, and I have threatened to throw him out,” said the father. “He stays there rent-free, but he’s nearly destroyed my house, and I’m tired of those stinking dogs!” The man on the phone then told me not to worry about my job, or my manager, or about getting into trouble. “I’ll take care of it for you…you did the right thing…don’t worry,” he said.

The old man on the phone then told me, “Young man, I am a federal judge. Give me your boss’s phone number and I promise he will not give you any more problems. That’s my house, and I overrule my son.”

Ten minutes later I was called to my sales manager’s office once again. He was very nice to me, to say the least.

The Connection

Honestly, I don’t know what that powerful federal judge told my sales manager, but it was enough to make him act like a whipped pup. And I don’t know whatever happened to the son who lived in the house that smelled horrible, but my guess is he was made to move.

Were my actions appropriate? Was it right to report that house? I don’t really know.  All I do know is that when I was accused to my “master,” somebody besides me was found “guilty.”