The Tree and the Deer

The simplicity of an evergreen, a deer and snow.

Somehow the draw of the cold, early morning winters are such a delight to me. Layering my clothes, I don my very old down “puffer” black full length coat that I can’t bear to give up due to its extreme warmth. It lacks total shape or form.  At 50, I am beyond caring that I look like a black Stay Puft marshmallow topped with my bomber hat which keeps my head and ears toasty so early in the morning.  I have entered “practical” vs “fashionable” at least for outdoor wear.   People are heading to school, jobs, and the monotony of a workday starts for them.  For me, I head to my mountain with my dog Sheba, anticipating a “word” from the Lord.  My pace quickens.  The entrance to the cemetery is clogged with a thigh-high plow shaped mound of hardened snow.  The earlier storm long over, above freezing temperatures during the day created an icy layer on top that crunches so loudly in the quiet of the early morning climb.

My first thought,”I will never see a deer with this noise.”  Yet, I dismiss the thought and replace it with, “God can do anything.”  Hope returns.  I realize as we head up the first hill, that I am ill -equipped with my sneakers.  (I had forgotten that they don’t plow the cemetery in winter).  I make a mental note to wear boots next time.  The climb is icy at spots and in others, I sink ankle deep in cold moist snow, but my thoughts turn to “Seek me with all your heart, and you will find Me.”  It also returns to the “Christmas season”, “Traditions of men”, and Christmas trees.  The Lord has been destroying my “Christian ” foundation quite steadily over the last year.  When He reveals something, a fallacy or twist of His truth, it is usually a BIG one that rocks my world for weeks on end.  The latest has been Christmas, as well as other “Christian” holidays.  (warning…..this will probably offend those who are not ready for truth.  Read at your own risk.)  Two days ago, I saw a post on the history of the Christmas tree, its pagan roots and our adoption. (There are tons of YouTube videos on Christmas origins)  The woman speaking denotes a passage in Jeremiah.  Stunned, I turn to Jeremiah 10:2-4 (KJV) and read:

Thus saith the LORD, Lean not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven, for the heathen are dismayed at them.  For the customs of the people are vain, for one cutteth a tree out of the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the axe.  They deck it with silver and with gold, they fasten it with nails and with hammers, that it not move.

WHAT?? Really???  God warns about “customs of people” (Traditions of men)  which are not His ways. (Some argue it means wooden idols but what are idols but symbols of who or what we worship)   It still rings true. This has really been another eye-opener.  Consequently,  I shared the verse and post with a friend who drives the Amish.  She asked the Amish if they celebrate Christmas?  They said they gathered together.  She also asked if they had Christmas trees.  Their response was: “No, the book of Jeremiah forbids it.”  Wow!  So the Amish know what the bible says.  Now the rest of the story……. (Yes, I used to listen to Paul Harvey!)

God, true to His nature, allowed Sheba and myself to see the three deer in the field but because of the major crunching noise, they did not stick around long.  However, as we traversed the front of the mountain to make our circuitous route back down, I again was thinking about, “Seek me with all your heart….”  I look up and did a “double-take” . There up ahead, SITTING under a perfectly formed, huge fir tree was a deer.  It was not fleeing, my dog did not sense it. I stopped and tried to grab my cell phone camera.  I finally found it but with some difficulty because I had huge mittens that barely fit into my pocket.  I finally turned it on and looked up, the deer was standing now.  Looking straight at me, ears pricked.  I then saw another behind it, white tail up.  They were now on alert.  The picture you see below shows the standoff.  As I stood motionless, even Sheba stood still (only God).  The picture of the prone position of the deer under a perfect fir tree surrounded in snow, impacted me greatly.  God is everywhere but this is where He showed Himself to me, out in creation, in the cold wintry morning.  It was my third message.  Jesus was born simply, in a manger. With no fanfare, no holiday celebrations, no glitz, just quietly out with the animals, with his family.  Man has made his own traditions.  Nowhere in the Bible, does it say to celebrate Jesus birthday.  He came in humbly (not at the height of pagan holidays).  This is a hard one for me but I cannot deny what He showed me over the last few days. I leave you with two pictures.  Which one speaks of the character of God and His word?


The Dog Walker

dogwalkerOne of the most beautiful sights to see is a well-trained dog walking alongside its master.  The dog could be ugly, short, missing a leg or it could be very average or it could be beautiful.  The outside package does not matter.  When we see him in his master’s shadow with no leash – happily walking beside his master, attentive to the most subtlest of clues….We all want that relationship!!  It does not matter the breed of dog, we all stop and look. Secretly, everyone of us wishes our dog would do that.  Most of us watch a dog owner being yanked around and pulled everywhichway.  The dog in total control of its owner.  The dog will not listen because it has not been taught obedience.  Some of us will teach our dogs up to a certain point and then say “good enough.”  We know they will obey to a point, looks good to others, is impressive to most, but deep down you know you cannot trust that dog to fully obey. You just got tired of spending time training the dog.  Some owners try to circumvent the training process altogether…..they will buy an invisible fence, use “shock collars” or a pinch collar.  These dogs obey out of fear….fear of punishment if they do not obey.

I believe that this parable is so pertinent to people today.  

The Ultimate Master is God, the “owner” represents people and the “dog” is our inner selfish nature based on feelings or our soul.  There are three types of dog owners….Pre-Christian or those that do not have a knowledge of God, the “church” or professing christians, who proclaim  knowledge of God but are truly limited to Sunday attendance, good deeds or outward “signs” of piety like bumper stickers, logos, and religious adornments. Finally, there are those whose “walk” truly reflect their heart and obedience to following Jesus, laying down their own desires and wants to be obedient to a calling God has on their life.

Hosea 4:6  “My people perish for lack of knowledge…….”

The “pre-christian” is the dog dragging its owner around, it has no knowledge of its Master because they do not know the Truth.  John 14:6  “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”   This dog is in total control, leading its owner wherever it wants; pulling and dragging the owner around town. Leading by its feelings at the moment.

The “Churched” dog owner is the dog that is obedient to a point.  The owner has taken the dog manual (Bible), and pulled out what they need, when they need it, to get the dog (inner selfish soul) trained to a “good enough” point.  They are also the ones that will use shock collars and invisible fences to “force” obedience through pain.  However, what happens is that some dogs will endure a moment of pain to run through the barrier to get what it wants on the other side of the fence.  A moment of pain is worth the reward they see on the other side because their heart is not to be obedient to the Master.  “Churched” dog owners have religion and rules but no relationship with the MASTER.

Finally there are the “Dog Masters”, those that have laid down their agenda, feelings, and wants to read the whole “dog manual” (the Bible), to have a relationship with the Ultimate Master, the Father, God the Creator.  They have given their obedience to the Master through His son’s payment for our sins on the cross. They are walking in freedom that obedience to the Master brings…they walk freely next to Him with No leash, focusing all their attention on His path for them that day.  That is why we all are amazed at the obedient dog to its master.  It is a beautiful relationship that was God’s intent all along.

2 Peter 1:2  “Grace and peace be multiplied in you in the knowledge of God and in Jesus our Lord.”