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  • Baptist Beacon

Barking dogs

by Tim Patterson

PLYMOUTH, MI – Many years ago, the Patterson household possessed two dogs and one cat. Or should I say they possessed us?

Our oldest dog, TEX, was given to us just after we moved to Florida by a friend in our church. At this particular time, he had been with us for more than eight years, while our newest canine addition was still learning the layout of the land. NAPPY was the name that came with the short four-legged mop that was claiming the Patterson’s as family. She was a Yorkie but only in body. Inside she was a Great Dane with an attitude. If your name was NAPPY, you would have an attitude too!

TEX on the other hand was a big black Lab-Shepherd mix that would scare the willies out of you with his yellow eyes and ominous bark. But the fact of the matter was that he was a big baby. A genuine lap dog. And yet he was a great watchdog and was very protective of his domain. He survived several car wrecks where he left the scene of the accident with less damage to him than the automobile that was involved.

Our cat had been with us for several years as well, and was the same midnight color as TEX. The major difference between her and TEX, besides being of a different species, was that she did not have a loving disposition. In fact, she didn’t like anyone but me, and that was only because I fed her. Or it could have been because I was the one that took her in after someone dropped her off at the church.

Most of us believe that cats and dogs are not compatible, but for the most part TEX and PRISSY got along just fine, as long as TEX stayed out of her way. Now NAPPY and PRISSY was all-together a different matter. A bad attitude has a way of driving a wedge between relationships.

The cat was fat, lazy and unconcerned with few things but sleeping and eating. She usually stayed perched on the back of the sofa or on an elevated place on the porch where she could oversee and direct the affairs of the house.

TEX didn’t stay in any one place very long at all. He was usually yapping, barking and terrorizing every squirrel in the county. He was also a great tormentor of “other” cats.

With all the noise and racket our dog made, the cat maintained her position. She was totally unconcerned with the barking of the dogs. The cat knew that she could "take out" both dogs with one swipe, but for some odd reason she chose not to. She just found herself a higher place to rest and ignored that yappy NAPPY. Could it be that she knew that it wouldn’t last forever and that soon everything would be at peace?

In the midst of today's “wild west social media”, I sometimes feel like my old cat, and that I have been treed by the dogs of this world. All the noise they make in their immoral protests, the bantering for their rights to have no social controls are barked at me and the rest of society almost endlessly. Their vile and abusive attitude for evangelical Christianity is without question. If it is not the ACLU, it is the Americans for the Separation of Church and State trying to force the presence or even the mention of God from the public square. They are adamant that we do not have “freedom of religion but freedom from religion.”

Most of them remind me of a pack of stray dogs roaming about looking for their next victim. Turning over the filthy garbage cans of the indecent discards of corrupt humanity and spreading its abhorrent contents across our communities. They do so with the willing and willful help of most forms of media and those that control it.

The filth that now covers the passageways of our cities because of these hellish hounds makes it almost impossible to walk at times and that is why we must seek higher ground. We do not seek higher ground by running from this world but running to our Lord. That is why we must have faith in the "Most High" and believe that He will lift us up.

Taking the Higher Ground is a choice. It is choosing to be kind and willing to show more grace than is deserved. It means not entering into the “cat and dog fights” that are all around us but by staying elevated from the fray.

Garrison Keillor, the former host of the National Public Radio program, "A Prairie Home Companion", and author of several best selling books was quoted in Leadership magazine.

"A little faith will see you through. What else will do except faith in such a cynical, corrupt time? When the country goes temporarily to the dogs, cats must learn to be circumspect, walk on fences, sleep in trees, and have faith that all this woofing is not the last word."

During this wonderful season of Christmas, may I encourage you to take the high ground and enter into His peace. A peace that goes beyond all understanding.

My friends, don't let the dogs of this world bother you too much. Their barking will cease and we will enter into His final and everlasting peace. Besides, most of those barking dogs are headed for the pound anyway.



Tim Patterson is Executive Director/Treasurer of the Baptist State Convention of Michigan. Elected unanimously in May of 2015, Patterson formerly served for 9 years as pastor of Hillcrest Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla. He also served as trustee chair and national mobilizer for the North American Mission Board.


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