I am not used to having a hypoallergenic dog. Growing up, I had long haired dogs. They shed a ton, but their hair did not get matted. With this puppy we have now, he's had to get shaved down twice now. I thought that brushing him once or twice a week was good enough, but no. He needs daily maintenance. Well...so many of the good gifts that God gives to us require regular maintenance for us to ensure they stay good. Marriage is good, but a good marriage takes a lot of work. Children are good, but raising them right takes so much work. The church is good, but building deep and spiritual relationships takes more than a passing "hello" on a Sunday. God has blessed us with good things, but are we putting in the work to keep them that way?
What if I told you that God could be seen in the most ordinary things every day?
What if I told you that everyday, ordinary events could teach us extraordinary eternal truths?
Would you believe me?
Hi, I’m BJ Sipe – and you’re listening to the Set Your Mind Above Podcast.
I am a Christian, a preacher, a husband, and a father.
Thanks for tuning in!
Do y’all remember that episode way back in the middle of season 2 called, “The crazy things we do for our children?” If you don’t remember it, it was episode 48 if you wanted to go back and listen, but that was where I discussed our family trip all the way up to Northern Ohio to pick up this little puppy that was for sale from some breeders. It was an insane whirlwind of a trip, and all for this little puppy the kids named “Ollie” who was no bigger than maybe 5 pounds. Well, the puppy is full grown now, and he might at the most be pushing 15 pounds. His breed, a miniature golden doodle, is small by nature, but we happened to get an extra small one. In fact, maybe a little bit too small. He’s just at the right height to still be able to squeeze underneath the frame of our bed where he hides his many “treasures” that he steals from all of us. On a weekly basis, things go missing until I have the time to fish them out from underneath. He’s also small enough to squeeze under parts of the fence outback and keeps escaping. In fact, I had the track him across the neighborhood again today – then proceeded to lay more pieces of wood across the bottom line of our fence in places he might have gotten out. He’ll have to be “hound-ini” to get out again at this point. Needless to say, I realize more with every passing day just how crazy we actually were to get a puppy when we did. Little puppies take a lot of energy and a lot of work – which I knew, growing up in a dog home. However, I never grew up caring for a dog with the kind of hair that Ollie has. Growing up, I had dogs like an Australian shepherd/greyhound mix, and then early in our marriage Kylie and I had a black lab puppy. These dogs were long haired, so naturally they would shed, but they were fairly easy to tend to and care for aside from dealing with all the hair. Not the case with a miniature golden-doodle. These dogs are hypoallergenic, meaning that they do not shed their hair like long haired dogs do. Seriously, we don’t deal with any clean-up of dog hair in our house, which was one of the driving factors with getting a dog of his breed. We wanted a dog that took little to no maintenance…or so we thought. A few months ago, we took Ollie in to get groomed for the first time – expecting to see a cleaned up cut but still a very teddy bear looking puppy. However, that’s not what we picked up. What we picked up was something akin to a large rodent. Apparently, his hair had become so matted under the surface in many places, that they had to shave him almost down to the skin. They explained to us that this breed of dog needs brushed regularly to keep their hair from getting matted. So, I took their word for it. So a couple of times a week over the past couple months, I would get the brush out and give him a quick once over. I was sure this was good enough, especially in comparison with the amount of brushing I was doing now in comparison to past dogs I have raised. Fast forward now to last week when we took Ollie in for his second grooming appointment. We dropped him off early in the morning, went about our business through the day, and then picked him up around 5. Once again…he was shaved down nearly to the skin. The poor dog looked absolutely pathetic and even smaller than he already does. I asked them why he had to get shaven down, that I had been brushing him and didn’t think he was matted like before. Well, apparently he was. They explained to me that when they said he needed more regular brushing, they meant every single day he was going to need attention – especially with his adult fur coming in and replacing his puppy fur. I didn’t realize the kind of maintenance this little rascal was going to take. So, it’s now become a part of my daily routine just like any of my personal self-care. Brush my teeth, brush my hair, brush the dog. It will take some getting used to, but that’s just the nature of life – for good things to remain that way, they take a lot of routine maintenance & work.
Well, before I go off to groom my dog and hit the hay, I think there is an important spiritual lesson in this new regiment that I wanted to share. In James 1:17, we read the following, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” I want us to stop and consider all of the wonderful gifts that God has given to us in this life. Time would fail us to mention them all, but let me just elaborate on a few of them. Marriage is a gift from God. Children are a gift from God. The church, specifically our fellow brothers & sisters in Christ, is a gift from God. The list is endless, and each of these things that we have just mentioned are not just good – they are very good. However, for good things to remain good, they take a lot of routine maintenance and work. Let’s just consider each one of these examples for a few moments, but please don’t limit the lesson to just these. To whatever extent you want to make the application to your life, do it. For now, let’s begin with marriage. Proverbs 18:22 says, “A man who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord.” Marriage is a gift from God, and when it is carried out in a godly way, it is a very good thing. However, a good marriage does not just happen – it takes an incredible amount of regular maintenance and work. Life gets busy between work, kids, responsibilities, bills, and before we knew it, our marriages can get neglected. Far too often, two individuals that were once drawing closer together and closer to God find themselves drifting away from both. If we do not give our marriages priority to spend time daily to connect, share, confess, and encourage – pretty soon we will find huge knots deeply embedded with the one whom we tied the knot with. What about our children? Psalm 127:3 states, “Behold, children are a gift of the Lord, The fruit of the womb is a reward.” All of us recognize I am sure how much of a gift our children are to us. However, if we are to do it right, raising children takes an incredible amount of not just daily, but hourly maintenance and work. If you take a hands-off approach to raising children, we will find ourselves guilty of not only being poor stewards of such an incredible gift, but we can set our children up to fail in so many ways due to our negligence. As parents, our children are our responsibility, first and foremost! It is not the job of a school to educate them, the job of the church to teach them about God, or the job of anyone else for that matter to raise, love, and prepare our children. It is our job as parents, and to do that job right, we must be hands on in every aspect of their lives every single day. What about the relationships that we have with our brothers and sisters in Christ, the church? Jesus would describe the incredible gift that the church would be as our spiritual family in Mark 10:29-30, “Jesus said, “Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel’s sake, but that he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life.” What an incredible thing the Lord has promised us – that in the church we will receive a hundred-fold fathers, mothers, brothers, and sisters. But my friends, those close relationships do not merely just happen. If the most time we spend with our fellow Christians is once a week at worship, as we awkwardly exchange pleasantries on our way in and out, and that’s it – we will not have the kind of relationships that Jesus described. When you open up the book of Acts, how often was the church together? How often were Christians building relationships with each other through prayer, study, socialization, and such? Wasn’t it daily? The relationships we can build with one another in the church can be so incredibly good – but they take a great amount of care and work. My friends, this is the point – God has given us so many good gifts in this life; gifts that far too often we simply neglect. May the Lord revive us again, and give us the discipline to put as much effort into these things as God did in providing them for us. Good things are waiting for you – but are you ready to put in the work?
Thank you for tuning in for this week’s episode, and I would invite you back every Wednesday for a brand-new episode each week. If you haven’t already, be sure to find us on Facebook for future announcements or even some special video sessions. If you have benefited from this podcast, share it with someone else that you think would benefit from it also. Until next time, know that I love you, that God loves you, and may we all each & every day set our minds above.