April 26, 2013
There’s something special about the connection between man and dogs.
But “man’s best friend” is more than just a good friend.
In this special message, Ed Young takes a look at some lessons we call learn from our canine companions. And when we learn to apply these K9 Commandments, we discover how to get the most out of the life God has given us.
What’s up, Dog Days? How’re y’all doing? I want you guys to meet one of our dogs. This is our Doberman (remain standing), Dutch. Everybody give a wave to Dutch, a bark to Dutch <barking sounds>. Hey Dutch, here’s his trick. Dutch, sit. Oh yeah, isn’t that incredible? Yeah! Dutch is the man, I’m telling you!
Today’s message is gonna be for Dutch. It’s gonna be for every dog here because there’s some stuff we can learn from our dogs. Dutch, many times, will sleep while I’m studying for the messages. Sometimes I will, like, practice the different sermons and he’ll actually sleep while I’m talking. Then he wakes up when I’m done, kinda like some people here. I’m kidding you. Anyway, let’s give it up for Dutch. Today’s message will be about dogs (please be seated) but to humans. They’re about dogs, yeah they’re to dogs, but also to humans.
I heard about a t-shirt this guy was wearing a while back that on the front said, “Lord, help me to be the kind of person my dog thinks I am.” Isn’t that funny? It’s so true. That’s a good prayer. Lord, help me to be the kind of person my dog thinks I am. Because, you know, Dutch thinks I’m all that. And I know your dog thinks you’re all that.
You have in your hand a sheet, and this sheet is the sheet that I believe can really help you where you are. As we observe our animals, as I have observed Dutch for the last six years of his life… we got Dutch from a Doberman breeder in Arkansas. Anybody from Arkansas here? No one. Well, we got Dutch from Arkansas and I’ve observed him so I have come up with my very own K9ments. Not the commandments, I’m not gonna be that arrogant. Because Moses got those right from Sinai. But I’ve come up with the K9ments. You get it? Yeah. Say it with me, K9ments. I’m gonna fly through these things because these are some directives, some dogmatic directives that all of us need.
God has created everything. We know that. God has created everything and this stuff didn’t just happen. It was made by a designer. I’m a unique design, so are you. Look at our animals. Our animals are unique. We can learn from everything and God has put things in our lives, even the animals, to teach us some incredible stuff. So let’s go to the K9ments. Are you ready? All right.
K9ment #1, and I’m talking to Dutch, I’m thinking about Dutch: Be fiercely loyal. <bark> #1 – Be fiercely loyal. Dogs are loyal. And that’s one of the reasons why I love Dutch so much. He’s a loyal dog. I believe he would give his life for our family, he’s that loyal. Loyalty seems to be something on the endangered character quality list. Don’t you agree? It seems like many people in our world today loathe loyalty as opposed to leaning into loyalty. God is a loyal God. He’s in your corner and my corner when everyone else bolts. God is loyal to you and to me. Think about how loyal God has been to you. Think back. All the smack, all the junk, all the funk, all of the mistakes, all of the turnovers, all of the mulligans he’s given you. And God is still loyal to you and to me. We’re made in God’s image so God can give us the ability, the loyalty, to have that sort of commitment in every facet of our lives.
I’m talking about marriages. I’m talking about single parents, the loyalty. I’m talking about being loyal to your calling, loyal to the plan that God has for you, loyal to the church he’s placed you in. We need to be loyal. Friends. The Bible says in Proverbs 17:17 a friend is always loyal.
When I see Dutch, although his tail has been docked, it’s pretty small, when I see Dutch he wags his tail, not his tongue. And I like to hang out with people (don’t you?) who don’t wag their tongues. People who are loyal. People who will speak truth and love and kindness and support and encouragement in your life, and the best place to meet those people is right here where we are at church. We can learn this from our dog. Just look at the dog, look at the dog, look at the dog. When it comes to loyalty, the more I know about dogs the more I respect dogs. And the more I know about dogs the less I think of some of the people I’ve met in my life.
Let’s go to the second one (that was funny). <bark> #2 – Shake it off. Dutch, my Doberman, you give him a bath and he comes out of the bath. He can shake, and I’ve read this, it’s a dog stat that’s interesting. It’ll make you go Hmmm??? Dutch can shake 70% of the water off of his fur in 4 seconds. Your dog can do the same. I mean, it’s like <whoomp-whoomp!> shake it off. Do that with me <whoomp-whoomp!>. Shake it off.
We can shake off the hurt and the dirt and the sin in our lives. Once we establish a personal relationship with God we realize God has chosen us and we have the opportunity to choose him. Once we choose him he comes into our lives. We have a relationship with God that can’t be broken. He’s that loyal. Well, once that relationship has been established sometimes we do things, right, to break and to impede the fellowship, the communicative process. Well those of us who are followers of Christ, the Bible says we can what? <whoomp-whoomp!> Shake it off.
So I want you to hear a word from the apostle, Paul. Yes, we’ve been learning from the apostles of Alpo today but let’s look at (thank you again), let’s look at the apostle Paul. Philippians 3:13-14 he talks about <whoomp-whoomp!> shaking it off. “No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it yet…” Here’s Paul saying I haven’t arrived yet. “… but I’ve focused on this one thing. Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God through Christ Jesus is calling us.” A dog feels the weight of the dirt, a weight maybe of the water and they <whoomp-whoomp!> shake it off and it frees them up to run and to do what dogs do.
In your life and mine, what are doing carrying around the hurt and the dirt and the sin every day? Our souls can be power-washed. We can <whoomp-whoomp!> shake it off and achieve what God wants us to achieve. What do you need to shake off? What’s holding you down? What’s tripping you up?
The third K9ment <bark-bark-bark> That’s #3 – Know who you are. Know your name. We took Dutch to obedience training at a local pet store. One of the first things they taught us, name recognition. Name recognition. Name recognition. Give your Doberman a name, one syllable, boom! That’s it. And when I say, “Dutch! Dutch! Dutch!” Hopefully Dutch responds. And most of the time he does. He responds. It’s important to talk and to give your dog a name they can understand, to use their name in hallowed tones.
The Bible says that God has called you and me by name. The Bible says God knows the number of hairs on our head, even though for some of us guys that number is diminishing. God knows it. The Bible also says in the book of Psalms that God knows the number of tears that we shed and he’s placed them in a bottle. He’s that awesome. He’s that amazing. The Bible also goes on to say that God knew us when we were being formed in our mother’s womb. Even as a developing baby God had a plan for your life and for mine. He has chosen us and it’s his design for us to choose him. And once we become followers of Christ our name changes. I mean, we don’t change it but in God’s eyes. It’s now Ed Young Christian. It’s Dean Atronis Christian. It’s John Nolan Christian. It’s Roderick Wilson Christian. Isn’t that cool? We’re part of God’s family. We go to the vet… “Dutch Young, are you here?”
<bark-bark-bark-bark> The fourth one, #4 – Bark when something’s wrong. Dog barks are very interesting. Some of them <muffled barking> … we have a bullmastiff, this giant, Boca did not make the trip because he’s a little bit dog aggressive. And he just has one bark. <Arrroum!> one bark, that’s all he needs. Now and then <Arrroum!> Dogs are barking! I like this. Dogs are “amen”-ing me right now. I like that! So bark when something is wrong.
Dutch, as a Doberman, is so, so attentive. It is amazing how he has that sense that we just don’t have. He will bark or he will growl. And Dobermans have this aggressive, initiative-taking bark. It’s like <barking effects> it’s very whoa!!! Yaaaaa! Like that. And he has this growl that will scare you. Bark.
Here’s what we can learn. Bark when something’s wrong. Bark, confess, the Bible says. Confess your sins. Confess the stuff that’s keeping you from being the kind of person God wants you to be. Because revealing your feeling is the beginning of healing. We’re only as sick as our secrets. Say that with me. We’re only as sick as our secrets. And some of us think, OK, if I reveal what I’m really struggling with people would laugh at me, they would roll their eyes, they wouldn’t want to hang out with me, they would run from me… and just the opposite is true. Because the enemy knows the power of the bark.
I didn’t say whine. You don’t wanna hang around with whiners, you know.. <whimpering/whining sounds> No, no, no. But I mean bark when something is wrong. And bark at and to the right people. Who is that? Bark so your master hears your voice. Bark so those people that God has placed you around in his church can hear it. In 1 John 1: 8-10 if we claim to have no sin we’re only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. But if we confess our sins to him (and the word confess simply means I agree with God… bark, you could say) he is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins and cleanse us from all wickedness.
You know, back in the day I used to say this. I used to say this back in the day, I would go, “Our culture has gone to the dogs.” Now I stopped saying that out of respect for the dogs.
So, #5 – <bark-bark-bark-bark-bark> Sniff it out. Dogs can smell. Dogs have 200-250 scent receptors in their nose. 200-250 million scent receptors in their nose! 200-250 million scent receptors in their nose. How many do I have? Well, I got 5 million. Some of you might have 4 million, maybe some 6, but we average 5 million. So Dutch, my boy Dutch, has 200 conservatively million scent receptors. He can smell where other dogs have been. He can smell their diet, their health, their sex, their mental state, whether they’re aggressive, friendly, or submissive, just by <sniff-sniff> smelling. A dog’s nose is always working, right?
If my wife, Lisa, who is an awesome cook, she has written these great cookbooks, if she’s making gumbo, for example. How many people like gumbo? I love gumbo. Gumbo is God’s food. I love it. If Lisa’s making gumbo – you’ve not made that in a while, you need to make that… I’m kidding. No I’m not. – If I walk into the house and I go <sniff-sniff> whoa! Oh man! Lisa is cooking some gumbo. Somebody call somebody! I can’t wait! My stomach starts growling, I think about the crawfish and think about the different elements in the gumbo, maybe some okra, maybe some tomatoes, think about everything, that roux and everything, and think about, oh yeah some crackers with it. Oh man, it’s goo-ooood! That’s what I think about when I smell gumbo. I think, “Oh, I smell gumbo.”
Dutch, when he smells gumbo, he smells every aspect of it. Every detail of it. Oh I smell the crawfish, individually. And I also smell the tomatoes individually. And I also smell and smell and smell and smell and smell. He has a 3-D profile of odor. My dog, Dutch, has great discernment. What kind of discernment do you have? What kind of discernment do you have? What kind of discernment do I have? When I see a dog’s nose moving I have to think, OK, I should sniff it out. Sniff out that business deal. Sniff out that potential friendship. Maybe you’re single and you’re dating. Sniff out that person. We have to make a lot of decisions. We negotiate the maze of life. We have to sniff it out. The Bible says in James 1:5, “If any of you lacks wisdom you should ask God.” So part of sniffing it out is asking the right people the right questions and get the right answers. First of all, ask God. Secondly, ask people who are walking with him. To ask a question you’ve got to be vulnerable. Are you sniffing stuff out?
#6 – <bark-bark-bark-bark-bark-bark> Attitude is everything. I love Dutch’s attitude. When I come through the door after work he’s happy to see me. He’s so happy to see me sometimes I want to leave and re-enter through the front door because the greeting is so off the chain. Our dogs love to greet us. They have this happy attitude. They live in the moment. I want to live in the moment. I want to learn from Dutch. I want to learn from my dog. Are you learning from your dog? Dogs don’t think, “Oh man, I got a hard day tomorrow. Oohhhhh! It’s gonna be awful!” They don’t say, “Man, I wish I lived in another house.” No, no, no. They’re just happy to be happy. They just live in the moment. That’s why Jesus said, “I will give you just enough grace, just enough octane, just enough stuff for today.”
#7 – I’ll change my bark <ruff-ruff-ruff-ruff-ruff-ruff-ruff> – Take a nap. Does your dog snore? Dutch will snore! Sometimes he keeps us up at night. He sleeps in our bedroom just, <snort, groan, moan> making all these noises. “Dutch! Shhhh!!!!” <snort, groan> He snores. Dogs can take naps. Some dogs sleep 18 hours a day. Doesn’t that sound great? Anybody here like to take power naps? I do. This is a whole ‘nother message but you know some of the geniuses were incredible at taking short naps? You have your most creative thoughts (this is nothing to do with the message) usually right before you go to sleep or right when you wake up. I think I wrote about that in my book on creativity but anyway… It just kinda hit me and I said it.
But what am I talking about, take a nap? I’m talking about Exodus 20:8, this is one of the 10 commandments. We’re not talking about a K9ment here but let me read a commandment. “Remember (the Bible says) to observe the Sabbath.” What’s the Sabbath? That’s the worship day. We’re made to work 6 days then to worship. You’ve heard me do the beat before, 6 and 1… <boom-boom-boom-boom-boom-boom-tssch! … boom-boom-boom-boom-boom-boom-tssch! boom-boom-boom-boom-boom-boom-tssch! boom-boom-boom-boom-boom-boom-tssch! boom-boom-boom-boom-boom-boom-tssch! boom-boom-boom-boom-boom-boom-tssch!> OK, that’s the rhythm that God has for you and me. Six and one.
Six and one. We’re to work. God has given us work, we’re to work, but also we’re to rest. When are we to rest? The first day of the week. The first day of the week is Sunday. That’s the resurrection day. That’s why we worship on Sunday. We also have Saturday night services so that’s, you can make Saturday that day, too, but Sunday is our rest day. We’re to worship God corporately. This is what the Bible commands us to do. You’re doing (give yourselves a round right here, a round of applause), you’re doing what God has commanded you to do. You give the first day of the week to God and guess what? He will bless the rest.
Let me say that again. Give the first day of the week to God and he will what? Bless the rest. I give the first part of my day to God, it can be 5 minutes, maybe 20 minutes, praying, listening, reading his word, and guess what? He blesses the rest. I give, you think about the tithe and people talk about tithing. The word tithe simply means first. I give my first income to his house, the first 10%. God blesses the rest. So we see the power of it.
We’ve got to be in one of the stressful and anxiety-ridden times in the history of our world. We’re educating and paying for terrorists to walk all over our beautiful land. We’re saying it’s OK to take the lives of developing babies, yet we want to protect the nesting sea turtles? It doesn’t make sense. What’s wrong is right, what’s right is wrong. We’ve gotten away from giving God the first. And I want to challenge you to give God the first, to build your life around this rhythm. To build your life around the church. To build your life around working and resting. And when you rest do like Dutch does. Unplug, disengage, turn off your iPad, your iPhone, just have that day of worship, of rest, with God and those close to you. And I’m gonna tell you something. You talking about longevity? You talk about health? You talking about stress flying off of you like when Dutch shakes it off? You won’t believe it what’ll happen!
#8 <bark-bark-bark-bark-bark-bark-bark-bark> We’re almost there. Say, we’re almost there. Always obey your master. Hey Dutch, always obey your master. Dutch I’m your master. Obey your master. When Dutch obeys me, because I know more than my Doberman, don’t I? Yes. You know more than your poodle, don’t you? Yes. You know more than your lab, don’t you? Well I hope so. Obey your master. Obey him. Come. Sit. Stay. No. When they obey, life is better. We lead them on a leash. We follow the leader and follow the lead of the leash.
So often I have Dutch on a leash and he wants to go to the left, maybe in a busy intersection, or maybe he wants to go into the water. And I don’t want him to go into an intersection or the water, what do I do? I just bring him back. I do a little pop on the chain, a little <bink!> and then he just jumps back in line.
God has this great path, this great purpose for all of our lives and we’re leashed up to him. We have freedom as we walk with him. He wants us to walk in concert with him but sometimes if we get near that freeway, sometimes we can hear that water, he will just kinda pop-pop-pop us and we follow him. So we don’t go where we want to go, God takes us where we need to go. Yet, on our own we don’t know where we’re supposed to go. God, though, knows where we’re supposed to go. Learn from the dogs! Learn from your dog! Always obey your master.
John 14:15, here’s what Jesus said, “If you love me, obey my commandments.” So the secret of living the ultimate life is simply obedience. Yet, our world tells us: go with your feelings. Go with your emotions. We need to turn from our emotions and first of all get into our devotions, and then when we’re devoted then the emotions will follow. But the most important things in life are not feelings-based. And sadly so many leaders in our country, in our world today, are feelings-based. So many things we read, so many things we study, feelings-based.
“Oh it’s just genetic. It’s just your emotions. You can’t help yourself.” The Bible says yes you can. We’re responsible before God. God has chosen us, we’re responsible to choose him and to obey him.
The last one, I like this last one. This is gonna be so positive it’ll knock your socks off. #9 <bark-bark-bark-bark-bark-bark-bark-bark-bark> I’ll end it with a sneeze because of my allergies… wait a minute… <sneeze…sneeze…> I usually sneeze three times, like my grandmother. God bless Memaw, she’s with the Lord, but I didn’t do it. Maybe because I’m up here, kinda nervous.
Anyway, the 9th one – a little praise goes a long way. You praise your dog. <happy doggy sounds> They’re happy. You praise your dog, say the dog’s name and “good boy! / Good girl!” and their name again. Praise your dog! Dogs love to be praised. I like to be praised, don’t you? You know it takes words of praise to knock away one negative comment? Whoa. Are you praising your spouse? Praising your kids? Praising your coworkers? We praise our dogs. How about the others? It starts, though, with praising God. Expressing our love to him. Proverbs 15:30, “A cheerful look brings joy to the heart.” Good makes for good health. You show me someone who is walking and engaged in encouragement and I will show you somebody who is healthy and is living a prosperous life.
So I just want to run through these 9 K9ments. Take these with you. Post them somewhere that’s obvious. Maybe on your dog’s crate, maybe on the fridge, I don’t know. Maybe in your car, somewhere on the mirror in your bathroom. Read them, study your dog, think about your dog, and know that God made your dog and God has used your dog and my dog as an object lesson for us to achieve and to live the kind of life that he desires. Is that cool?
The K9ments. Let’s bow for prayer together.
[Ed leads in closing prayer.]