+ Dog Catching

Using Our Spiritual Gifts

13 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

1 Corinthians 13:1-3 (ESV)

Our puppy, Loki, is full of mischief and chaos as his name suggests. He is a mixed breed, mountain feist and mountain cur, apparently useful in hunting small game. Since I am not a hunter, Loki will never be useful for that purpose. However, watching him use his gifts for hunting rabbits or squirrels in unproductive ways like clawing, bitting, chewing, and destroying everything in our house made me realize that he needs a new purpose and putting him in a cage just won’t do.

I can’t sling a gun, but I sure can sling a frisbee — a great joy that my sons have taken up in sport and leisure time. Now they are teaching me the fine art of throwing discs with a purpose. So, my new trainee with teeth and claws that just won’t quit has a new purpose, to run and snatch discs out of the air. After being cooped up all day it just takes Loki about 20 minutes to wear himself out after catching and fetching which entertains and pleases his master.

God has given man spiritual gifts, but we are to seek and find good purposes for those spiritual gifts given. Edification is the building up of others within the body of Christ, the church. All gifts should be used to bring joy to another’s life which pleases God, our master. Love is the supreme purpose of all. So, when it comes to using our gifts, God calls us to build up the church for the ultimate reason of love. Love seeks the interest of others and not ourselves. When we use our gifts to benefit others, the act becomes our reward in itself and not to gain something in return.

May we use our gifts to bring joy to his church.

Mark Hayne

A Child Is Born

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder, and His name shall be called ‘Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace”.

Isaiah 9:6

So, what is so different about this child? Countless children are born
around the world each day. Why is this child unique? Why do millions of people bow before Him? Why does the world pause to remember His birth?

Because, this child is different. He is no ordinary infant and His birth
was no ordinary birth. He is different because God determined that His birth would be so profoundly different from all other births that he announced it more than 700 years in advance. It was different because His mother was still a virgin, and His father was God Himself. God entrusted His infant Son to a young woman’s womb with the confidence that she would faithfully honor this sacred trust.

Born in a stable, among ordinary farm animals, this child’s birth was
announced by angels singing, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, Peace, goodwill among men.” That is why He came. That is what He was about. And that is still His mission for us…to glorify God in the highest, and bring peace and goodwill to men.

His path was not to a stable, but to a cross. The ultimate goal was to die for a lost world. His ultimate victory was to be raised from death and return to the Father who sent Him. By doing so, He brought life to all who would follow Him to the cross. After more than two thousand years, that cross still stands as the center piece of human history…the pivotal point of eternity. No wonder they called Him, “Everlasting Father”, for He truly is the Father of Eternity. Let us bow before Him and honor His birth by accepting His cross.

-Al Behel

Our Greatest Privilege

“Lord, teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1)

The disciples of Jesus had listened to his sermons, but never asked,
“Teach us to preach.” They had observed his powerful miracles, but never said, “Lord, teach us to do miracles.” The one thing they asked for Him to teach them was how to pray. Knowing how to pray effectively is far more desirable than knowing how to preach a powerful sermon. Moving heaven is much greater than moving men on earth.

Of course, there are many desirable gifts or privileges, but none
surpasses the privilege of prayer. We can train men to preach moving sermons, but powerful praying can only come out of hearts that have been touched by the Master. More is accomplished through prayer than through sermons for without prayer sermons are empty and ineffective.

Obviously the disciples had witnessed Jesus on His knees. They had seen the hand of God moved through His prayers. No one had prayed like Him. No one had talked with the Father the way Jesus did. They stood in awe as they listened to Him pray and they wanted to pray like Jesus prayed. Only Jesus could teach them to pray like that.

I’ve heard many moving prayers. Some were very short but powerful. A little boy in New York prayed, “God, I thank you for making me a human being and not a dog!” Some of the old saints knew how to pray. The key? They knew they were really talking to God and that God was listening.

Prayer is every believer’s privilege. Not everyone is called to become preachers, or elders, or teachers, but everyone is called to pray. Later, Jesus would say, “Men ought always to pray and not to lose heart” (Luke 18:1). Praying opens the doors of heaven and moves the hand of God.

Unfortunately, many Christians do not avail themselves of this privilege. Instead, there is an expectation that life moves on its own, most days are reasonably comfortable, and we maintain good health. We forget that prayer is not solely about us. It is primary about communing with our heavenly Father. It is about advancing His kingdom in a world of darkness.

We are instructed to pray for others, to pray for laborers to go into the fields to reap the harvest, and for the spread of the gospel. If prayer is really power, how foolish is it for us to rely on ourselves when we have little control over anything. We have access to our God, the “Almighty” One, who is never tired or weary. Who is “able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask of think, according to the power at work in us”. (Ephesians 3:20).

– Al Behel

Love Changes The Heart

A woman was reading a book but soon decided it was too dull to
continue reading. She laid it aside. Some time later she met a man who she came to love deeply. As their love grew they became engaged to be married. Then she remembered the book. She said to her fiance, “I have a book written by a man with the same name as yours. Isn’t that a coincidence?” He replied, “No, that’s not a coincidence. I wrote the book!”

The woman stayed up almost all night reading the book, which she now
considered to be the most thrilling and interesting book she had ever read.
Love had changed her heart. She was now in love with the author.

Is the Bible a dull book to you? Do you find it’s pages dry and it’s
message irrelevant to your life? Maybe you need to fall in love with the
Author. When you come to know God and love Him with your whole heart,
the contents become a thrilling story of His amazing work in history and His precious gift to you.

Love always changes hearts. It changes the way we live, how we treat
others, and what we count to be important. Love changes our priorities. We
desperately try to please the one we love. We subjugate our interests and our needs to those of that person.

Our love for God turns our hearts toward Him. To please Him. To
adore Him. To deny our selfish interests in favor of His universal interests. To accept His will without question and to trust His Word implicitly. Love makes the heart give its best. To give without counting the cost, or holding back. Nothing is too costly. No amount of time is too much. No request is too demanding. Our hearts are changed by His love.

When God gave the Law He gave Ten Commandments to guide the lives
of His people. Over time religious leaders broadened those ten to 613. When Jesus came He reduced those to only two commandments. The first and greatest is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength”. The second is “to love your neighbor as yourself”.

Love is at the center of our relationship with God and our relationship
with others. It is the “love of Christ (that) controls us” (2 Corinthians 5:14).
And, after giving us a long list of character traits for the Christian, the apostle Paul tells us “above all these put on love which binds everything together in perfect harmony” (Colossians 3:14).

Truly, love changes our hearts and our lives.

-Al Behel

The Runaway Bunny

Where can I go from your Spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence?
(Psalm 139:7)

Sometimes teens decide to run away from home. They want freedom.
They want to be out from under the control of their parents. They may travel
all the way across the country to get as far away as possible. Parents are frantic. They wait by the phone. They pray for their safety. They plead for their

Margaret Wise Brown has written many children’s books. Each has a
simple story. One of her books is entitled, “The Runaway Bunny.” It is
about a little bunny that tells his mother that he has decided to run away from
home. “If you run away, I will run after you. You are my little bunny.” She
tells him that if he becomes a fish she will become a fisherman and fish for
him. If he becomes a little boy, she will become a human mother and hold
him in her arms. She convinces him that no matter where he goes she will go
after him. Finally he says, “Shucks! I might as well stay where I am and be
your little bunny.”

That’s really what David was saying about us. No matter where we go,
God is there. He never leaves us or deserts us. We can’t travel beyond His
reach. “If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of
the sea, even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold

God’s love can’t let us go from His heart. No matter how far we wander away from His presence, His eye is always on us and He longs for our
return. Like the father in the parable of the Prodigal Son, God is always
watching and waiting for us to come over the hill. As Paul said, “Nothing in
all creation can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus…” (Romans
. His inseparable love is always there.

It doesn’t matter how far you have gone from God’s presence, He is still
there. His hand will always be outstretched, waiting and longing for your return. He will not force you to come back. You must want to return to Him, but
He will not stop loving you. That’s why He came down, took on our nature,
human flesh, and walked the rocky roads He had made, while being rejected
and abused by the very persons He came to rescue from the powers of death
and hell. That’s why He endured the cross. Because He loves you so.
“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love.
Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.” (1 John 4: 16).

-Al Behel