F R E E D O M T H R O U G H O B E D I E N C E
Hello friends and welcome to Monk’s message!
Someone once asked me, “What is the first and greatest concept that you teach your puppies?” In the wild dogs must have the ability to find, catch, and kill. Not a very attractive sequence of events but perhaps necessary to survive. So there is really no natural reason for a dog to want to trust me or anything or anyone else that it does not truly understand or know. That is why I do the very thing with my puppies that Jesus Christ did for us. He came, and before His children ever loved him, he demonstrated just how much he loved us. So that is the very first thing that I do with my puppies. I love on them for about two weeks. Now let’s go back to that ultimate training manual, the Bible. After Christ had demonstrated his love for us with the ultimate gift (his life), he commands a straight forward thing from us in return. We are to trust and obey the father’s words. Now my puppy must begin to see me with different eyes. He must “be still and know that I am.” Without this understanding of who he is in relationship to me, he will never be able to totally “trust and obey.” So how does this happen and how important is it?
Before I get too far in I believe it’s important for you to understand that my experience with training dogs has convinced me that champions are not born. Puppies are born and yes, some of them have more survival skills like speed, strength, and endurance. However, I believe they are all born with the following three characteristics:
1) The power to choose.
2) A natural tendency to always take the easiest path.
3) An enormous desire to serve themselves first.
It is this third idea of serving themselves that I want to address.
God tells us over and over that he alone is worthy of our worship and devotion. He just says it in different ways. He says it in the greatest of all the commandments, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, and soul.” (Matthew 22:37) He says it again in the first of the ten commandments, “ You shall have no other gods before me.” (Exodus 20:3) He then says it yet again in a voice that should make us all fall to our knees, “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10)
This is the greatest gift I can give one of my puppies: causing him to understand who he is in relation to me. In essence, he must know who I am before he can truly understand who he is. His very purpose in life is for the world to see the value of me, demonstrated through his willingness to trust and obey my commands. This will only occur when he truly understands that I can see and understand things that he cannot.
Why is this so difficult? Unfortunately, he has been born with a self serving nature; a deception that tells him that life is all about him. His please, his success, his pride, and his control. He believes that he is the very center of what is important and that the world exists only to gratify him. Sadly, most parents and many churches inadvertently teach the same concept to those they love.
When God says to me in the Bible, “Be still and know that I am God,” He is telling me to be quiet, listen, and learn. He is saying sit, stay, do not move until you come to grips with the ultimate truth about our relationship and which role you play in it. Being still does not mean not moving. It also means that while you are moving, be still in your heart, be still in your pride, be still in your purpose, and look not to yourself but to Him. When my dogs go to fetch they know when I blow the whistle, their job is to stop, be still, and turn and look to me for instructions. Only then can I instruct them further. Even if a dog stops but fails to look at me, he will still not know where to go. He must stop, be still, and know that I will instruct him. A dog can get to a certain point in hunt tests just by watching where the mark (duck) falls and retrieving it from his own memory. However, in the advanced stages the dog will see one mark fall but have to retrieve one that was hidden earlier. One that he never saw fall. It is here that my dogs have to know who I am. What do you mean know who I am? Trust that I know what I’m doing in sending them in a direction that seems contrary to what they know. I believe God calls us to this same end when he says, “Lean not on your own understanding,” and “Be still and know that I am God.” Know that I am in control. I see what you cannot see and I know what you do not know. Deny yourself and follow me by faith.
So in the same way I train my cherished puppies to be still and know who I am. I wish to impress upon this great Biblical truth to be still and know who God is. Only in this understanding will you stop worrying about succeeding according to the world’s standards and strive to truly succeed according to God’s will.
As always, in great need of His grace,
Hank and the Dogs
P.S. Monk says, “Don’t ever go so far, or so fast, that you can’t hear your master’s whistle. Without it you can only serve yourself.”