Surviving the ‘Dog Days’

31 Jul

DogDaysOfSummerI watch my dog cool down every summer as August approaches in hot San Diego. Roscoe sits on the cool wood floor and camps out in front of our revolving fan. Sometimes he turns his head toward the fan, and I laugh as his ears fly out behind him. He moves his head back and forth to catch every bit of the cool, refreshing breeze.

As August continues, I often find him panting there. And believe me, there have been days I’ve wanted to join Roscoe on the floor!

It’s always tough going during the “Dog Days” of summer – unless you’re at the beach. Or running your air condition most of the day. ($$$$$$$!!!!)

I wondered where the phrase “dog days” came from.

I discovered in the Northern Hemisphere, these days occur most often in July and August. During this time, a constellation named Orion (the Hunter) appears in the sky. It is near the constellation Canis Major (greater dog), and according to tales about the constellations, Canis Major is one of Orion’s hunting dogs.

A star in this “dog” constellation, on the front of the dog’s neck, is called Sirius (the Constellations_OrionAndCanisMajorDog Star). It’s an extremely bright, intense star. As July/early August arrives, Sirius seems to get “lost” in the sky; but the ancients knew the “Dog Star” was still there. And they felt (logically, to them) the searing, bright star added to the heat of the season.

The Romans called these days “Caniculares dies,” or “days of the dogs.” According to Wikipedia,  the Romans even sacrificed a red dog in the springtime to appease the supposed rage of Sirius. Apparently they believed the star was the sinister cause of the “hot, sultry weather.”

These are tales from ancient mythology, but the name stuck. Weather-casters still refer to the “dog days of summer.”

Spiritually, I have days when I struggle in some “heat.” It plum wears me out until I look for the place of rest.

While some “heat” comes from the circumstances of life, there’s another kind of “heat” that comes from within.

King David understood this. He spoke of a particular time when this “heat” seemed to suck the life out of him. David said in Psalm 32:4:

“For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer.”

What was David talking about? We find out in the next verse: “I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,’ and you forgave the iniquity of my sin” (v. 5).

When we hide and refuse to acknowledge our sin, it adds pressure and stress to our life like “the heat of summer.”

Sin weighs heavy on our soul. Soon, we feel depleted — our strength and vitality plummet. Suffering spiritual “heat stroke,” we suffer until we seek relief.

The marvelous blessing is, there IS relief. Sin brings guilt, but that’s a good thing!

Guilt is God’s gift to us to drive us toward His love and forgiveness.

To “survive the heat,” must come to the Lord in brokenness and repentance, baring our sins before Him; then we can sit in blessing (v. 1), covered by the cool breezes of His forgiveness.

Do you feel like your strength is “dried up” under the weight of a particular sin? Where does this psalm say you can find relief and the blessing of refreshment?

– Dawn

Constellation graphic from here.

Walking the Walk with God

25 Jul

Ashley showed Kim her new Lab puppy.WalkingPuppy

“Aaaw. He’s so cute!” Kim said. “What are you going to name him?”

“Five Miles.”

“What? Why that?”

“So,” Ashley said, “I can tell people I walk Five Miles every day.”

LOL!

I’ve been thinking about walking more lately. No, not walking outside – although, heaven knows, I need that! – but walking more with God.

Years ago, I misunderstood what “walking with God” meant. I thought it meant “asking God into my lifestyle.” I thought, “Lord, would you come along with me today?”

To be honest, I was thinking, “I hope I can get God to do something for me.”

Silly me. Presumptuous me!

No. Walking with God means aligning our lifestyle with His desires and plans. It’s walking in agreement (Amos 3:3) with Him.

It’s a fine line, but walking with God is more about being alert to walk with HIM rather than coaxing Him to walk where we want to go.

I have a choice in how I will walk.

I can either walk in the ways of the world (Ephesians 2:2) and in the “counsel” of wicked people (Psalm 1:1); or walk with the Lord by walking “in the Spirit” (Romans 8:4; Galatians 5:16).  I can walk on the narrow road of godliness, or the wide way of evil (Matthew 7:13-14).

When I walk with God, I desire to please and glorify Him (1 Corinthians 10:31) and allow the Holy Spirit to conform me to Christ. So walking with God means I have to avoid distractions and anything that will pull me away from the path He lays out for me.

Micah encourages us: “walk humbly with your God” (6:8). There’s no room for pride when we walk with Him.

Enoch and Noah (Genesis 5:24; 6:9) were described as walking with God. It’s a walk of submission and obedience. For Christians, it’s following the Shepherd (John 10:27). The Good Shepherd taught us how to walk with God; He walked in submission to His Father in heaven (John 5:19).

Walking with God has some important characteristics:

1. We will walk in Love (Ephesians 5:1-2) – beloved “children of God,” imitating Him … imitating Christ whose sacrificial love bought our salvation.

2. We will walk in the Light (1 John 1:5-7; Ephesians 5:3-14a) to have fellowship with God. The walk in Light is a walk of holiness.

3. We will walk in wisdom, according to the will of the Lord (Ephesians 5:15-17). We’re careful with how we use our time – what we do, where we go, etc. – knowing we live in an evil culture. We don’t want to be foolish “walkers.”

I can’t let pride, selfishness or foolishness control my thinking if I want to walk in submission and obedience. One of the practices of my spiritual walk is to remember that:

“God is God and I am not; so my walk must honor Him.”

A practical way I’ve found to “remember” that is to say those words when I put on my shoes or sandals!

How do YOU remember to “walk” with Him in love, light and wisdom each day?

– Dawn

Humor, adapted.

Graphic at Purina.com.au, “Introducing Puppies to Walking on a Lead.”

Picky Eating Habits

13 Jun

One of the most frustrating things about being a mom of toddlers is theChewingOnGodsWord_LOLwithGod little ones’ eating habits. A blog called Mommy Shorts posted moms’ submissions about their children’s picky eating habits. Here are my favorites:

  • Hello, my name is Julia, and tomorrow I will hate every food I liked today.
  • Hello, my name is Lexi, and I will gag at the sight of sauce, except if you call it frosting. I love pasta frosting.
  • Hello, my name is Gabe, and I will not eat scrambled eggs unless you spell my name out in ketchup next to them.
  • Hello, my name is Wyatt, and I like my milk separate from my cereal so I can treat it like a dip.
  • Hello, my name is Olivia, and I hate crust. Not just on bread and pizza. Did you know there is crust on pancakes and hot dog rolls too?
  • Hello, my name is Xander, and if I find one string on my banana, I will cry like you chopped off my leg.
  • Hello, my name is Atlee, and I like toast with butter, but not if I see you putting the butter on my toast. You must butter my toast in the pantry, in another room or outside, because if I see you put butter on it, I will not eat it. And don’t get the crazy idea that I like dry toast. I do not. I like toast with sneaky butter on it.
  • [More “picky eaters” here.]

Ah those sweet days of feeding toddlers . . .

Toddlers’ food choices can drive us crazy. Of course, those picky eaters don’t think they’re being picky. In their little minds, they’re being discerning gourmets!

I read a scripture that made me think about what I “eat” each day.

“Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by your name, O Lord, God of hosts” (Jeremiah 15:16, ESV).

It’s a choice. I can either eat the world’s foolish words—and go hungry nonetheless—or I can feast on the satisfying, wise words God has provided for me.

Chewing on God’s Word is a matter of being a discerning picky eater.

We have a choice every day about what we will read and the media we devour. Our choices will affect our lives.

If we are wise stewards of God’s time and of our minds, we will make choices that the world might consider “picky.” But that shouldn’t concern us.

If we want to model Christ to the world, we will want lives that are transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:1-2). We need to “test” literature and media—and “discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

The Psalmist said, “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (Psalm 119:103), and the patriarch, Job, said he treasured God’s words more than his actual “portion of food” (Job 23:12). They “ate” the Word and were satisfied.

We may have second thoughts about other things we’ve read, but we will never regret “chewing” on scripture.

Do you eat God’s words every day? How has He blessed and encouraged you by them?

– Dawn

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