Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Training the Dog

We've been in the process of trying to train our dog.  A dog trainer has been coming to our home and teaching us some things that we need to know if we want a well trained dog.  He's had over 40 years of experience and has trained thousands of dogs - including police dogs for tracking bombs and dogs for detecting mold.  I think he knows what he is doing.  :-)  It's been very interesting watching our dog go from a very undisciplined animal to giving us glimpses of hope that he can become an enjoyable pet to have around.

But it is also a sincere reminder that if TIME is not spent training with him everyday, that we will lose everything that we've been taught.  If our dog is not reminded everyday of how he is supposed to act and not act, we will not have a well-trained dog.  If we don't teach him daily, and go over what our dog trainer is teaching us, then we have just wasted the trainer's time and our money.  This requires discipline, time with the dog and a sacrifice on our part, if we want a well trained dog.  It's also a reminder that the dog will act how we treat him because how we treat him is how we're training him. But some of the natural instincts that he has need to be remolded and trained for better use.

This process has often made me think of the Christian walk, as well as disciplining our bodies so that they function better. So many same variables apply to living a life that honors Christ. As well as many of the same variables that apply to living more fit physically and feeling good/healthy with our bodies. For instance, if we don't spend time with the Lord each day in daily devotion, Bible reading and prayer, and getting to know who Jesus is, then how do we expect to be more and more like Him? If we do not train our bodies to act and speak in ways that Christ has taught us throughout the Gospels, then our life is spent in vain. So many things that come natural to us, need to be retrained and remolded so that our life reflects more love, kindness, forgiveness and joy therefore reflecting more of who Jesus is.  In a sense, it's no different than our physical bodies. If we want to feel good and healthy, training ourselves to eat the right foods and being active each day takes a certain amount of discipline, time and sacrifice.

Hebrews 12:11 (NLT) comes to mind..."No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening--it is painful! But afterward there will be a quiet harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way. So take a new grip with your tired hands and stand firm on your shaky legs. Mark out a straight path for your feet. Then those who follow you, though they are weak and lame, will not stumble and fall but will become strong." Disciplining ourselves--our bodies, our speech, our way of eating, our habits--is not always enjoyable but if we do, oh what good rewards there will be for us down the road. If it weren't for the diligent coaching and hard practicing boys on the basketball team, they would not have made it to HOOPLA and won bronze in their division.  That win took discipline, training and teamwork.

Disciplining our dog to be well-trained and enjoyable to have around--it's not always easy or enjoyable, but if we stick with it, we will be rewarded for years to come with a dog that we will enjoy having in our family. Disciplining our children and teaching them to walk in a way that honors God is not always easy and doesn't always come natural to us, but in the end it is extremely rewarding, and their lives are better for it. Disciplining our spiritual life by taking time to be in God's Word each day, striving to live a life of love, joy and forgiveness, again is not always easy but in the end we will be eternally rewarded.  Hebrews 13:1-5 continues on teaching us to "love each other" to not forget to "show hospitality" to "share the sorrow of those being mistreated" and to "be satisfied with what we have." Not all of these instructions come naturally to us but if we train and discipline ourselves, we can become like this.  God promises (v. 5-6) to never leave us nor forsake us and that we can say with confidence that He IS our helper so we don't need to be afraid and He will give us strength. SO, we CAN do this!!  We can re-train ourselves, our children, our animals  :-) to become better and better and more and more like Christ...but with the strength and power that comes from the empowerment of the Holy Spirit.

Kind of all fits together, doesn't it?  :-)

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