Our family is raising a sweet puppy, Lilly, for Leader Dogs for the Blind. We keep her for about a year and train her in various things. She has to learn how to sit, lay down, stand, stay, come, but most importantly how to walk on a loose leash. She is a black lab and this breed of dogs is highly motivated by food. While working with her during her training times when she does the appropriate behavior she is rewarded with food. If there is a distraction that pulls her attention away from me and her training, we know that that distraction had more value to her than the food that I am trying to entice her and treat her with.
The constant knowledge that if she does the right thing, she will be rewarded is always on her mind. Our last puppy, Ashley, tried to figure out constantly what she could do in order to earn her treat and if I did not deliver how or when she thought it was necessary she would bark at me or try all of her tricks to see if this is what it would take to get her reward. The reward of food is an ever present thought in their minds.
Some of my favorite verses are Deuteronomy 6:4-9 “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
God’s Word is so important we must do everything we can in order to remind us what it says and also remind our children what it says. These verses were inspired by God and Moses recorded them to remind the children of Israel to talk about all the things God had done for them and teach all of these things to their children so they do not forget. Just like Lilly, in the heat of the moment we forget the right behavior we are to exhibit and are distracted by the many things that Satan or our own flesh entice us with.
God says in Deuteronomy 6 we are to talk about God when we are “sitting and standing and walking by the way.” In other words, there is not a time in our life that God should not be a part of. God and His principles are not something that are good for Sunday morning only. They are to be a part of our everyday lives and we should be anxious to talk about God and His word at all times of our lives. Sometimes we need reminders, just like it says in Deuteronomy 6. “Bind them on your hands, put them on your eyes, write them on the door posts of your house and on your gates.” I took these words to heart and tried to do just that.
There are certain words or characteristics that I felt were important for our family to focus on. I took these words and hung them around our kitchen, the center of our home. These are a reminder of the characteristics that we need to practice in our everyday lives. Sometimes, many times, one of us needs a reminder and the word that is needed is pointed out. Over the next weeks these words will be the source of my weekly blog posts.
Just like my sweet puppies, we get distracted by our own selfish desires or something that seems more appealing than the reward for right behavior. We must constantly be reminded that though our treat for right behavior may not be immediate, the long term benefits of right behavior are seen as we work diligently at practicing them in our lives. When Lilly pulls too hard on her leash, she chokes herself. Yet the appeal of that distraction seems more alluring than a loose leash. So we also are drawn away by our own sinful desires and though there may be pain involved that distraction has more appeal than right behavior. Study with me over the next weeks characteristics that will help us be the people that God would have us to be so we do not “choke ourselves” on the chain of sin that so easily can entangle us.